This veggie jibarito burger has tostones (twice-fried green plantains) for buns and is topped with all of the classic fixins! It’s a take on the vegan jibarito, and also happens to be gluten free depending on the veggie burger you use.
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If you’re not familiar with the jibarito, it’s a Chicago sandwich with roots in Puerto Rico. The story has it that it was created by Juan C. Figueroa at Borinquen Lounge in the ’90s. He’d heard about a sandwich served on the island made with plantain bread, and decided to create his own version at the restaurant. The sandwich had thinly-sliced steak, garlic mayo, lettuce, and tomato, and was served between two tender tostones twice fried to perfection. It started selling like garlicky plantain hotcakes with a line out the door on a regular basis.
Competitors took notice and started making their own versions of the jibarito. Sometimes the same as the original version, sometimes with different meats or cheeses. Over the past two and a half decades, the jibarito figuratively exploded—you can find dozens of variations on the classic sandwich, including several vegan versions. If you ever find yourself in Chicago, you can order a vegan jibarito made with jackfruit or seitan at Puerto Rican restaurant Casi Yari, which has an expansive vegan menu, as well as a grilled vegetable version at The Jibarito Stop, and a seitan jibarito at Ground Control.
If this sandwich sounds right up your alley, you can make your own at home with this recipe! This version is a jibarito burger rather than a sandwich, but has all of the jibarito fixins: garlic mayo, lettuce, tomato, and chopped fresh cilantro. Since it’s a burger, I also added some cheese, grilled onions and vegan bacon, but you can do it up however you’d like. Use any kind of veggie burger you like, or make your own. The result is a flavorful, melt-in-your-mouth burger enveloped in creamy garlic mayo.
Serve it with arroz con gandules (which is super easy to make) and a side salad for a complete meal.
How to make tostones
The tostones (singular “tostón”, a.k.a. twice-fried green plantains) are the foundation for your jibarito burger. Undercook them and they’ll be dry, tasteless, and mealy; overcook them and your sandwich will fall apart. Tostones are typically deep fried, but if you’re not a fan of deep frying in your home kitchen, you can pan fry (my preferred method) or air fry them.
Pick the perfect plantains
For tostones, you’ll want to get unripe plantains, which are bright green and firm to the touch. The ripe plantains, also called maduros, will be yellow with brown spots and very sweet. While delightful pan fried with garlic as a side dish, your sandwiches will fall apart if you make them with maduros.
Peeling and slicing the plantains
The best way to peel a plantain is to take a sharp knife and make a cut down the peel lengthwise on two sides, then peel off the sides. Then you’ll want to evenly cut the plantain lengthwise, then widthwise so you have 4 equally-sized flat pieces.
Avoid peeling a green plantain like a banana. The peel will be too tough and the stem will just break off. You can peel a ripe plantain with this method though.
There are a few different ways to get your tostones cooked. No matter which method you use, you’ll want to use them right away before they begin to dry out.
If you have a deep fryer or want to deep fry using a pot, this method will make the tastiest tostones. You’ll want to fry the plantain pieces for 5-7 minutes for the first frying. Then fry 5 more minutes after smashing, flipping partway through.
Understandably, lots of people avoid deep frying at home since it uses so much oil and can make your house smell like grease, so there are a couple other ways to make them.
Pan frying is my preferred method for making tostones. You get the crispy edges and tender texture without the deep frying, and cleanup is easy. This is the method that the recipe instructs.
If you have an air fryer, give it a shot for the tostones. You can follow these instructions.
Once you have your burgers prepped, you’ll want to serve them right away. All of the burger components are best served fresh, especially the tostones. Get your arroz con gandules plated ahead of time so you can dig in to your jibarito burgers as soon as they’re ready.
For the plantain buns:
- 1 large green plantain (unripe)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- Salt to taste
For the burger:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 small onion sliced into rings
- 4 strips vegan bacon optional
- 2 veggie burgers
- 2 slices vegan mozzarella cheese
- 2 cloves roasted garlic smashed
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise
- 2 leaves lettuce
- 2 slices tomato
- 1/2 avocado sliced
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
For the plantain buns:
- Peel the plantain, then evenly slice it in half lengthwise, and then slice in half widthwise so you have 4 flat pieces.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Pan fry each of the plantain slices, 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Smash each plantain between the undersides of two flat plates to make each slice of “bread” for your sandwiches.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the plan, then add the smashed plantains and sprinkle with salt.
- Pan fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, adding more oil or salt as needed, or to taste.
For the burger:
- Add the olive oil to the same pan over medium heat.
- Add the onions and sauté for 10 minutes until golden, salting to taste. Transfer to a plate.
- Pan fry the vegan bacon (if using) for 1-2 minutes on each side, adding more oil if necessary.
- Push the bacon to the side of the pan, then pan fry the veggie burgers 3-4 minutes on one side.
- Flip the burgers, then add 2 pieces vegan bacon to each burger.
- Place a slice of vegan cheese atop each burger. Cook for 3-4 minutes, placing a lid over your pan if your cheese needs help melting.
- Meanwhile, mix together the roasted garlic and the mayonnaise to make garlic mayo.
- To assemble each burger, spread half of the garlic mayo on each piece of plantain. Add the lettuce, tomato, and avocado to each bottom piece, then place the burgers on top. Add the sautéed onion slices and cilantro, then top with the other pieces of plantain.
- You can also deep fry or air fry the plantains.
- You can use any kind of veggie burger you like. I used the Upton's Naturals Burger.
- Serve with arroz con gandules and salad.
- Nutritional information may vary depending on the type of cheese, veggie burgers, and vegan bacon you use.