Plantain vs Banana: Is There a Difference?

Written by August Croft
Published: July 28, 2022
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While they may look strikingly similar upon first glance, there are a number of differences between a plantain vs banana. These popular fruits are related to one another, and in fact belong to the same family known as Musa. But in what ways are plantains and bananas similar to one another, and what separates them from each other as well? 

In this article, we will compare and contrast everything you need to know about bananas and plantains so that you can learn how to tell them apart. We will give you some of their common uses along with their popularity, as well as their physical descriptions. If you have always wanted to learn all of the differences between plantains and bananas, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Plantain vs Banana

Plantain vs Banana
Plantain fruits typically grow larger and slightly straighter compared to the smaller and curved banana.
PlantainBanana
ClassificationMusa balbisianaMusa acuminata
DescriptionLarger and slightly straighter compared to the average banana. Tough skin that doesn’t peel well; comes in green, yellow, or dark brown colors, depending on level of ripeness. Some varieties have seeds inside, making this fruit ideal for cooking rather than eating raw. Has a starchy texture and a less sweet flavor compared to bananasCurved outer peel is tough when unripe, but peels easily as it ripens. Starts off green, but turns yellow and brown as it ages. Soft fruit without seeds; more sweet than starchy, especially as it ages. Can be easily mashed at just about any stage of development, but may need boiling if the banana is particularly green
UsesOften referred to as a cooking banana; ideally used in savory dishes and certain culinary applications including chips, mashed plantain, and more. More starchy than sweet!Used raw in a variety of applications including smoothies, baking, and eating as-is. More sweet than starchy, and only gets softer as it ages!
PopularityExtremely popular in Latin America, Africa, and Caribbean savory dishes, but not as popular as the banana overallExtremely popular around the world and used in a variety of ways, including raw and cooked
Special FeaturesPlantains are the ancestors of modern bananas!Bananas are one of the most commonly consumed fruits in the entire world!

Key Differences Between Plantain vs Banana

Plantain vs Banana

Plantains have seeds within the fruit, depending on the variety, while bananas do not have noticeable seeds within their fruit.

©iStock.com/Sarno Markosasi

There are a number of subtle but key differences between plantains and bananas. For example, plantain fruits typically grow larger and slightly straighter compared to the smaller and curved banana. The skin of the plantain is much tougher than the skin of the banana. Additionally, many plantain varieties contain seeds within their fruit, something that bananas do not have. 

But this is just the beginning of all of their differences. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know now. 

Plantain vs Banana: Classification

While plantains and bananas belong to the same plant family, they are technically different species and have different classification names. Plantains are often considered the ancestor of the modern-day banana, which makes sense when you consider that they are indeed related. If you are looking for the proper scientific name of the plantain, it is Musa balbisiana, while the scientific name of the average banana is Musa acuminata

Plantain vs Banana: Description

Plantain vs Banana

Bananas are primarily eaten raw when they are sweetest, while plantains require some level of preparation in order to avoid their starchy texture.

©Billion Photos/Shutterstock.com

Unless you have a plantain and banana lying side-by-side, you likely can’t tell them apart upon first glance. They both have a slightly curved appearance, though the average plantain is straighter compared to the average banana. In addition, they both have tough skin that changes color from green to brown as they age, though the skin of the plantain is much tougher compared to the skin of the average banana. 

Speaking of the average banana, they are much sweeter compared to the flavor of the average plantain. Plantains also have seeds within the fruit, depending on the variety, while bananas do not have noticeable seeds within their fruit. Finally, the plantain is full of more starch compared to the average banana, making the texture less mushy and more firm compared to bananas. 

Plantain vs Banana: Uses

Plantain vs Banana

Bananas are used around the world in a variety of applications, while plantains are primarily used in Latin American cuisine as well as Caribbean and African cuisine.

©iStock.com/bdspn

Despite their similarities and relation to one another, bananas and plantains are not used in many of the same capacities. For example, plantains are often considered a cooking banana, which means they are used in more savory dishes compared to the average banana. In fact, bananas are primarily eaten raw when they are sweetest, while plantains require some level of preparation in order to avoid their starchy texture. 

Plantain vs Banana: Popularity

When it comes to their uses, there is a clear winner in terms of whether plantains or bananas are more popular. For example, bananas are used around the world in a variety of applications, while plantains are primarily used in Latin American cuisine as well as Caribbean and African cuisine

Plantains are not nearly as popular as bananas are, despite their multiple uses and delicious flavor! You can fry plantains or cook with them in a variety of ways, similar to mashed potatoes, but this is extremely different from eating a banana raw. Both have their delicious cuisines and they also both have similar nutritional qualities, but bananas are simply more popular at the end of the day compared to plantains. 

Plantain vs Banana: Special Features

Plantain vs Banana

Plantains are not nearly as popular as bananas are, despite their multiple uses and delicious flavor!

©Yuri Dondish/Shutterstock.com

Both plantains and bananas are delicious and versatile, but did you know that bananas are one of the most commonly consumed fruits in the entire world compared to the relatively unused plantain? While this is no fault of the plantain, bananas are simply more popular, despite their ancestor fruit giving them their delicious taste in the first place

If you’ve never had a plantain, it’s never too late to give it a try. Just know that you likely can’t eat it raw out of the peel like you would a banana! 

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/bdspn


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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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