These Cajun Stuffed Plantains Are a Delicious Ode to My Heritage

published Oct 7, 2021
Cajun Stuffed Plantains Recipe

These flavor-packed plantains are stuffed with a mix of shrimp, crab, beef, cheese, and seasonings.

Serves6 to 8

Prep40 minutes to 45 minutes

Cook1 hour 35 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Overhead photo of wood oval platter on countertop with 7 roasted plantains stuffed with seafood and seasonings
Credit: Photo: Amber Gress; Food Styling: Krystal Rack; Prop Styling: Vanessa Vazquez

As an adult, I am constantly conflicted about what type of cuisine I love to cook. I grew up in different parts of Southern Louisiana, so I tend to lean on Cajun/Creole recipes, but as a first-generation American born into a Honduran immigrant family I also feel a responsibility to represent that cuisine that ties me to my roots. 

This dish — Cajun stuffed plantains — is an ode to that fusion and a delicious way to showcase my cultural background. Plantains (plátanos) are essential in every Honduran meal, so there is no way I could leave them out! The banana trade was big business in my family’s hometown of Puerto Cortes, Honduras, where growers delivered their fruit to the coastal steamers for export. There’s also a Louisiana connection: The Vaccaro Brothers of New Orleans, who founded The Standard Fruit and Steamship Company (which is now Dole), dominated the banana trade. For me, the plantains represent what people see on the outside, but what you get on the inside is pure New Orleans.

Credit: Photo: Amber Gress; Food Styling: Krystal Rack; Prop Styling: Vanessa Vazquez

In Louisiana we stuff the hell out of everything: stuffed shrimp, stuffed crab, stuffed bell peppers, stuffed mirliton, you name it! Here, I stuff the savory-sweet plantains with a mixture of beef, crab, and shrimp. I start by making a quick shrimp stock with the shells and heads of the shrimp, plus some aromatics. This is a great way to make the most of those tasty bits, and the delicious shrimp stock helps flavor the filling and is poured into the pan with the plantains as they bake.

For the filling, I start with the classic New Orleans trio of onions, bell pepper, and celery, then add seasonings (Creole seasoning is key here) and the proteins. That mixture gets tucked into the plantains, then I brush them with a little honey to add some shine and a little extra sweetness. This recipe makes a lot, but the leftovers freeze well, so you can have Cajun stuffed plantains for lunch or dinner when you’re not in the mood to cook.

Cajun Stuffed Plantains Recipe

These flavor-packed plantains are stuffed with a mix of shrimp, crab, beef, cheese, and seasonings.

Prep time 40 minutes to 45 minutes

Cook time 1 hour 35 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info


For the shrimp stock:

  • Head and shells from 8 ounces uncooked shrimp (from filling below)

  • Trimmings from green bell pepper (from filling below)

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 1 medium stalk


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    vegetable oil

  • 4 cups


For the plantains and filling:

  • 8 ounces

    uncooked, head-on, shell-on shrimp

  • 1/2

    medium green bell pepper

  • 6

    very ripe plantains (about 12 ounces each)

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion

  • 1 medium stalk


  • 2 cloves


  • 1 tablespoon

    vegetable oil

  • 8 ounces

    lean ground beef (80 to 90% lean)

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 sprig

    fresh thyme

  • 4 ounces

    lump crab meat

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    garlic powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    onion powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    Creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • Pinch celery seeds

  • 1/2 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons fine, dry breadcrumbs, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    maple syrup or honey

  • 1/2 cup

    low-moisture, skim shredded mozzarella cheese

  • 2

    medium scallions


Make the shrimp stock:

  1. Peel and devein the 8 ounces shrimp for the filling. Reserve the heads and shells. Cut the shrimp into 1/3-inch pieces and refrigerate until ready to use in the filling.

  2. Trim the 1/2 medium green bell pepper for the filling. Discard the seeds but reserve the trimmings. Dice the bell pepper, place in a medium bowl, and set aside for the filling. Peel and cut 1/2 medium yellow onion in half. Cut 1 medium stalk celery in half crosswise.

  3. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp heads and shells and sauté until bright red in color, about 3 minutes.

  4. Add the bell pepper trimmings, onion, celery, and 4 cups water. Bring to a simmer, then continue to simmer until the liquid is reduced to 2 cups, 45 to 50 minutes.

  5. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium heatproof bowl. Discard the contents of the strainer. You should now have 2 cups shrimp stock.

Make the plantains:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, peel 6 plantains.

  2. Working in 2 batches, add the plantains to the boiling water and boil for 5 minutes, until they are dull yellow in color. Transfer the plantains to the baking sheet.

  3. When cool enough to handle, cut a slit lengthwise down each plantain, starting and ending about 1 inch from either end, and going about halfway through the plantain (do not cut all the way through). Arrange 4 of the plantains slit-side up in a 9x13-inch baking dish, and the remaining 2 in a smaller baking dish where they will sit snugly.

Make the filling:

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400ºF. Meanwhile, cook the filling.

  2. Prepare the following, adding them to the reserved bowl of bell pepper: Dice 1/2 medium yellow onion and 1 medium celery stalk, finely chop 2 garlic cloves.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add 8 ounces lean ground beef and cook, breaking the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Drain the beef through a colander or fine-mesh strainer and discard the fat.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter to the same frying pan (no need to wash) and melt over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, strip the leaves from 1 fresh thyme sprig. Drain 4 ounces crab meat if needed.

  5. Return the ground beef to the pan. Add the thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, 3/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and a pinch of celery seeds. Stir to combine.

  6. Add the reserved shrimp and sauté until just cooked through and pink, about 3 minutes. Add the crab meat and stir to combine.

  7. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup dry, fine breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the shrimp stock, and stir to combine. Let cool for 15 minutes.

  8. Divide the filling between the plantains, stuffing it into the slits and mounding it on top (heaping 3/4 cup per plantain). Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in the microwave or on the stovetop. Add 1/2 teaspoon honey or maple syrup and stir to combine. Brush onto the plantains and stuffing.

  9. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs. Pour the remaining shrimp stock around the plantains. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.

  10. Bake until the plantains and filling are heated through and the cheese is melted, 30 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile, thinly slice 3 medium scallions on a slight diagonal. Sprinkle the plantains with the scallions before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make-ahead: The shrimp stock can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 1 week.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.