Whether cooking okra in the oven, on the stovetop, or on the grill, the secret is to turn up the heat and cook it quickly. We'll show you how to cook okra fast to make this summer treat the best it can be.

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Okra lovers (an enlightened minority!) adore the veggie for its eggplant-like flavor and meaty texture. For vegetarians, this summery vegetable makes a hearty anchor to meatless cooking; for omnivores, okra is a versatile side dish just to about any meat, especially one hot off the grill. What? You don’t love okra? Sounds to us like you either haven’t really tried it or you’ve never had it cooked the right way. Once you learn our secrets to preparing okra, we’re pretty sure you’ll become an okra convert, too.

Test Kitchen Tip: Wondering how to cook okra without the slime? It’s true, when you cut into fresh okra, the inside has a thick, shiny liquid that might seem “iffy” to the uninitiated. Cooking okra fast and hot gets rid that viscosity (aka slime). That’s why our methods here—such as grilling, roasting, and cooking quickly on the stovetop—are all about speed.

How to Prepare Okra for Cooking

No matter what method you use for cooking okra, be sure to wash it first:

  • Place fresh okra in a colander and rinse it with cool tap water.
  • Drain well.
  • Slice the okra only if your recipe calls for doing so.

How to cut okra: Using a sharp paring knife such as this colored paring knife set ($34.95, Williams Sonoma), cut off and discard the stems. Cut each okra pod crosswise into ½-inch slices (or as specified in your recipe). Note that 8 ounces of fresh okra will yield about 2 cups sliced okra.

How to Cook Okra on the Stovetop

Wash and slice the okra as directed above. Then follow these steps for how long to cook fresh okra on the stovetop:

  • Place okra in a saucepan; add enough water to cover the okra and salt to taste; bring the water to boil.
  • Cover the pan and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until the okra is tender.
  • Drain well and, if desired, toss with a little butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

Test Kitchen Tip: Conveniently, okra season stretches into fresh tomato season, and the two marry beautifully on the plate. Find out how to cook okra and tomatoes in this classic stovetop recipe for Smothered Okra.

How to Cook Fresh Okra in the Microwave

Wash and slice the okra as directed above. Then follow these steps for cooking okra in the microwave:

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

Test Kitchen Tip: Wondering how to cook frozen okra? Just follow the package directions. Frozen okra is especially good for soups and stews, its vicious interior liquid helps thicken the dish. For a true-to-Louisiana way to enjoy frozen okra, try this Chicken and Sausage Gumbo recipe.

Fried Okra
Credit: Steven Mark Needham

How to Cook Fried Okra

Remember what we told you about cooking okra over high heat? It’s absolutely the best way to cook okra! And when it comes to heat, deep-frying is definitely hot! A deep fryer such as this Cuisinart deep fryer ($79.95, Williams Sonoma) is ideal for frying okra because it allows you to set and regulate an exact frying temperature. However, you can also use a large heavy pan and a deep-fry thermometer such as this Taylor thermometer ($10.99, Target) to make fried okra. Learn how to cook fried okra with this classic recipe for Deep-Fried Okra. Also try this Jambalaya Fried Okra with a great Creole-inspired shrimp dip.

Get the Fried Okra Recipe

The general steps to frying okra are:

  • Wash as above and cut into bite-size pieces.
  • Prepare a coating. Cornmeal and spices are a common coating for okra.
  • Prepare an egg wash (aka a beaten egg and 1 Tbsp. milk or water).
  • Preheat your oil to 365°F.
  • Dip okra pieces in egg wash and then your desired coating.
  • Fry, in batches, 3 to 4 minutes or until tender.
  • Remove the okra from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

Test Kitchen Tip: Preheat your oven to 300°F and keep already-fried okra in the oven while you fry up the other batches.

Our fried okra recipes call for fresh okra because frozen okra has a softer texture than fresh. We prefer to use frozen okra in okra recipes for soups and stews, including, of course, gumbo.

Sheet Pan Succotash
Credit: Andy Lyons

How to Cook Okra in the Oven

We love roasting vegetables, and okra is no exception. Here’s how to cook okra in the oven:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with foil; set aside. • Wash 1 pound whole fresh okra as directed above; do not slice. • In a large bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 clove minced garlic. Add okra; toss to combine. • Arrange okra in a single layer in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and ground black pepper, or desired spices to taste. • Roast, 15 minutes or until okra is light brown, shaking the pan once. • Transfer okra to a serving platter and serve.
Get the Sheet Pan Succotash Recipe

Test Kitchen Tip: Can you grill okra? You bet! Remember, when it comes to preparing okra, high heat is this veggie’s best friend. Grill up some okra for these Grilled Okra Tacos.

Okra in person's hand
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Okra FAQs

We know, okra is not the most common vegetable out there, here are answers to some of your okra questions.

What Is Okra? A member of the mallow family of plants and a mainstay of Southern cooking, okra was brought to the United States by Ethiopian slaves. The oblong green okra pod is the edible part of the plant.

What’s the Best Way to Cook Okra? Okra tastes great in so many ways! Fried is probably the most common, but any high-heat cooking method is great.

What is the Nutritional Value of Okra? One-half cup of raw okra contains 16 calories, 0 grams fat, 2 grams dietary fiber, 41 milligrams calcium, and 150 milligrams potassium.

When Is Okra in Season? The peak season for fresh okra is May through September, though you can usually find it year-round throughout the southern United States. When selecting okra, look for small, crisp, brightly colored pods without brown spots or blemishes. Avoid any okra pod that is shriveled.

How to Store Fresh Okra? To store fresh okra, refrigerate the pods, tightly wrapped, for up to three days.

So, okra lovers, we’ve set you up with our secrets to preparing okra, along with plenty of ways to enjoy this cherished vegetable. As for any skeptics still out there, we’re hoping to make a fan of you yet! Give one of our tried-and-true methods for cooking okra a go, and we’re willing to bet you’ll be impressed.


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