How to Cook Okra

Okra lovers, look no further! We'll show you how to braise or fry this favorite Southern veggie to perfection.


A mainstay of Southern cooking, okra was brought to the United States by Ethiopian slaves. The oblong green pods are often served fried or braised, and when added to soups and stews, such as gumbo, the veggie imparts a viscous juice that acts as a thickener. The pods have a mild taste that's sometimes compared to the flavor of eggplant. We'll show you how to serve okra cooked in liquid (either on the stovetop or in the microwave) and fried, then point you to other recipes that use this vegetable.

Selecting and Storing Okra

  • The peak season for fresh okra is May through September, though you can usually find it year-round throughout the southern United States. Look for small, crisp, brightly colored pods without brown spots or blemishes. Avoid shriveled pods.  
  • To store fresh okra, refrigerate the pods, tightly wrapped, for up to three days.

How to Braise Fresh Okra

This recipe will yield four side-dish servings.

1. Prep the Okra

  • Wash 8 ounces okra with cool, clear tap water. Drain well.
  • Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the stems. Cut the pods crosswise into 1/2-inch slices (you should have 2 cups sliced okra).

2. Cook the Okra

  • Bring a small amount of lightly salted water to boiling in a saucepan. Add the okra.
  • Cover the pan and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.
  • Drain well and toss with a little butter, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

How to Microwave Fresh Okra

This recipe will yield four side-dish servings. 

1. Prep the Okra

  • Wash 8 ounces okra with cool, clear tap water. Drain well.
  • Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the stems. Cut the pods crosswise into 1/2-inch slices (you should have 2 cups sliced okra).

2. Microwave the Okra

  • Place the okra and 2 tablespoons water in a microwave-safe casserole.
  • Cover the casserole and microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 4 to 6 minutes or until tender, stirring once.
  • Drain well and toss with a little butter, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

How to Fry Okra

To fry okra, a deep fryer is ideal, because it allows you to set and regulate an exact frying temperature. However, you can also use a large heavy pan and a frying thermometer. This recipe makes six side-dish servings.

1. Gather the Ingredients

You'll need:

  • 1 pound fresh okra (about 45 small to medium)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • • 2 tablespoons milk
  • • Cooking oil for deep- frying

2. Prep the Okra

  • Wash the okra with cool, clear tap water. Drain well.
  • Trim the stem ends of the okra, and slice the okra into bite-size pieces. Set the okra aside.

3. Prepare the Coating

  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Mix well with a fork or wire whisk.
  • In a shallow bowl beat together the egg and milk.

4. Fry the Okra

  • Heat the oil in a deep fryer or large heavy pan or to 365 degrees F. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Tip: To use a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature of the oil, be sure to place it so the bulb does not touch the pan. Carefully control the temperature of the oil by adjusting the heat.

  • Dip the okra into the milk mixture and then into the cornmeal mixture. Coat well.
  • Fry about one-third of the okra at a time in the hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.
  • Remove the okra from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain the okra on paper towels.
  • Transfer the okra from paper towels to a shallow baking pan. Set the pan in the oven to keep the okra warm while frying the remaining okra.

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