How to Cook Okra

Okra-lovers, look no further! Whether you’re looking for a recipe for fried okra or okra gumbo—or prefer this favorite Southern veggie roasted, grilled, or cooked on the stove top—we’ll show you how to cook fresh okra your way!

Grilled Okra and Tomatoes

How to Cook Fresh Okra on the Stove Top

This recipe will yield four side-dish servings.

1. Prep the Okra

  • Wash 8 ounces fresh okra with cool, clear tap water. Drain well.
  • Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the stems. Cut each okra pod 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.
  • How long to cook fresh okra: Cover the pan and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender.
  • Drain well and, if desired, toss with a little butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

How to Cook Okra and Tomatoes

Sheet Pan Succotash

Conveniently, okra season stretches into fresh tomato season, and the two marry beautifully on the plate. These recipes show you how long to cook okra and tomatoes—whether you grill, skillet-cook, or roast them.

Skillet Tomatoes and Okra

Smothered Okra

How to Cook Fresh Okra in the Microwave

 

This recipe will yield four side-dish servings.

1. Prep the Okra

  • Wash 8 ounces fresh okra with cool, clear tap water. Drain well.
  • Using a sharp paring knife, cut off the stems. Cut each okra pod 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.
  • How long to cook okra in the microwave: Cover the casserole and microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 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.

How to Cook Fried Okra

A deep fryer 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 to make fried okra. 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 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 each okra pod and slice 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 egg and milk.

4. Fry the Okra

  • Heat the oil in a deep fryer or large heavy pan to 365°F. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
  • Tip: To use a deep-fry 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 each okra pod well.
  • How long to cook fried okra: 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.

FAQ: Can you make fried okra from frozen okra?
Answer: 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, okra gumbo.

Okra 101

What Is Okra? 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, and the pods are often served fried or braised. When added to soups and stews, such as okra gumbo, the veggie imparts a viscous juice that acts as a natural thickener, adding richness to recipes.

What Does Okra Taste Like? An okra pod has a mild taste that's sometimes compared to the flavor of eggplant.

What’s the Best Way to Cook Okra? Okra tastes great in so many ways! We'll show you how to serve okra cooked in liquid (either on the stove top or in the microwave) and fried. We’ll also point you to other okra recipes.

How to Cook Okra Without the Slime? Cooking okra fast and hot helps get rid of the slime! Therefore, look for okra recipes that call for quick cooking, such as grilling, roasting at high heat, or sautéing. But don’t forget: Sometimes slime is good! That viscous okra juice helps thicken soups, stews, and okra gumbo. (Of course, for completely slime-free okra, why not try dried okra chips? These savory delights are popping up in trendy markets all over.)

Is Okra a Nightshade? According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, okra is a member of the mallow family—not the nightshade family. Some online sources claim that plants from the nightshade family can trigger inflammation; however, research on this is inconclusive.

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.

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