Puerto Rican Piononos (Sweet Plantain Cups)

Puerto Rican piononos are the perfect mix of sweet and savory. These stuffed sweet plantain cups are made with perfectly ripe plantains and a flavorful ground beef mixture known as picadillo

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Puerto Rican piononos are the perfect mix of sweet and savory. These stuffed sweet plantain cups are made with perfectly ripe plantains and a flavorful ground beef mixture known as picadillo

Puerto Rican Piononos (Sweet Plantain Cups)

When it comes to exploring the vibrant and diverse culinary landscape of Puerto Rico, one simply cannot ignore the delightful creation known as piononos. These delicious rolled delicacies have become a staple in Puerto Rican cuisine, celebrated for their unique combination of flavors and textures.

The word “pionono” is said to have originated from Pope Pius IX, whose name was given to a sweet pastry created in Spain in the 19th century. However, the Puerto Rican version of piononos has evolved into a distinctly unique dish with influences from Spanish, African, and Indigenous Taino cuisines.

The key ingredients in Puerto Rican piononos include ripe plantains, ground meat (often beef), garlic, onions, bell peppers, olives, and a variety of spices. These ingredients come together to create a symphony of flavors, combining the sweetness of ripe plantains with the savory filling. It’s the perfect dish for anyone who loves mixing savory and sweet.

Puerto Rican Piononos (Sweet Plantain Cups)

Traditionally, piononos are made with fried strips of ripe plantain. The sweet plantains are peeled, sliced lengthwise, and then fried until golden brown. Meanwhile, the ground meat is seasoned and cooked with garlic, onions, bell peppers, olives, and capers, creating a savory filling. Once the plantains are fried, they are flattened and filled with the seasoned meat mixture, similar to how you would make a lasagna roll up. The entire creation is then rolled into a cylindrical shape and secured with toothpicks.

My version makes this process easier and healthier by boiling the ripe plantains, mashing them into a paste, and forming it into cups in a muffin tin. It may not be traditional, but it’s delicious! These savory rolls are commonly enjoyed during holidays, family gatherings, and special occasions. Feel free to experiment with different fillings too, such as seafood or a vegetarian option. You can serve them alongside white rice and habichuelas guisadas for an authentic Puerto Rican meal.

Puerto Rican Piononos (Sweet Plantain Cups)

From the sweetness of ripe plantains to the savory goodness of the meat filling, every bite of a pionono tells a story of tradition, creativity, and celebration. So, the next time you find yourself exploring Puerto Rican cuisine, be sure to savor the flavors of piononos and immerse yourself in the delicious journey they offer.

Puerto Rican Piononos (Sweet Plantain Cups)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Author Delish D’Lites

Ingredients

For The Plantain Cups

  • 3-4 ripe plantains, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • cups shredded Colby Jack cheese or your favorite melting cheese
  • 1 recipe's worth of picadillo

Instructions

  1. Peel the plantains and add them to a large pot. Add 8 cups of water and 1 teaspoon of salt to the water. Once the plantains are cooked through, about 15 minutes, drain them and set them aside.
  2. Lightly mash the plantains (do not make it into a puree) with a fork or potato masher. Grease 8 non-stick muffin tins with some of the oil. Scoop 1/3 cup of the plantain mixture into each hole. Using the mortar part of a mortar and pestle (greased with oil), press into the center to form the cups.
  3. Preheat your oven to 425F. Place the muffin tin in the oven and cook until the edges of the cups turn light brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of cheese into the bottom of each the plantain cups. Scoop the picadillo into the cups and press down lightly. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes to heat the beef and melt the cheese.

  5. Loosen the edges of the cups with a knife. Carefully remove the piononos from the muffin tins, it helps to use a spoon or fork. Place the piononos on a serving tray and serve hot.

Recipe Video

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Hola

I’m Jannese, Founder of Delish D’lites

I’m a Puerto Rican girl living in paradise (Florida), and the creative mind behind Delish D’Lites. I love sharing my family recipes and travel inspired cuisine! My favorite things include collecting passport stamps, twerking to Latin music, and kissing puppies. Follow along on social.