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The vegetable side dish of the summer! Dredged in cornmeal and fried on the stovetop until golden brown, this crispy Southern fried okra recipe is an easy and delicious way to enjoy fresh produce this season.

Close overhead shot of a bowl of crispy fried okra.
Table of Contents
  1. Is fried okra good for you?
  2. Ingredients for Southern Fried Okra
  3. How to Fry Okra
  4. Serving Suggestions
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Southern Fried Okra Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Fried Okra Recipe
  8. Southern Fried Okra Recipe

Okra is a classic Southern staple! From okra and tomatoes to gumbo and Kentucky burgoo, you’ll find this ingredient in so many of our favorite dishes. If you’ve never tasted fried okra, then you’re seriously missing out! It’s the best way to enjoy seasonal vegetables, and your kids are bound to agree.

With just a touch of Cajun seasoning, the mild green vegetable tastes a bit like eggplant. And forget about any rumored “slimy” texture — you won’t find any of that here!

Close up front shot of crispy Southern fried okra in a blue and white bowl.

Is fried okra good for you?

Okra is a podded green vegetable that came to America from Africa during the slave trade. While frying vegetables is not the optimal way to prepare them for health, the okra in this dish does offer a variety of nutritional benefits.

It is rich in soluble fiber, which promotes healthy cholesterol levels, and insoluble fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive tract. Okra is also high in folic acid and vitamin B-6, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and iron. One half-cup of okra contains 25 calories, 2 g of fiber and 1.52 g of protein (source).

Soaking okra in milk

Ingredients for Southern Fried Okra

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of our favorite fried okra recipe. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Fresh okra: while frozen okra works well in soups, stews, and gumbo, fresh okra yields the best texture here.
  • Milk or buttermilk: helps the breading adhere to the vegetables.
  • Self-rising cornmeal mix: use either white or yellow self-rising cornmeal mix. I prefer White Lily brand. This is not plain yellow cornmeal! Instead, self-rising cornmeal mix is a convenient blend of cornmeal, all purpose flour, leavening agents (like baking soda), and salt.
  • Self-rising flour: a common pantry staple in most Southern households, self-rising flour is simply flour with the leavening and salt already added. I White Lily brand.
  • Salt and ground black pepper: to enhance the other flavors in the dish.
  • Creole or Cajun seasoning: these two spice blends are not the same, but either will work fine in this recipe. Creole seasoning tends to be a bit more mild than Cajun seasoning, since Cajun seasoning features an array of ground peppers (such as black, white, and cayenne), while Creole seasoning is more herbal (with oregano, thyme, rosemary, and paprika). Use whatever you prefer!
  • Vegetable oil: a neutral oil with a high smoke point that’s perfect for frying. You can sub with canola oil, peanut oil, or shortening if you like.
Small pieces of okra dredged in cornmeal

How to Fry Okra

This simple, down-home comfort food is well worth a little bit of time, effort, and grease on the stovetop! I’ve included the detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  • Trim and slice the okra.
  • Soak the okra in milk or buttermilk (there’s no egg necessary for this recipe).
  • Whisk together the breading.
  • Dredge the okra in the cornmeal mixture.
  • Fry the okra in batches in hot oil.
  • Drain on paper towels, season, and serve warm!
Process shot of frying okra in a Dutch oven

Serving Suggestions

The crispy fried okra pairs nicely with just about any of your favorite Southern entrees. Here are some ideas:

Dipping Sauce for Fried Okra

Kids love to dip the okra in ketchup, but it’s also great with a rémoulade sauce, tartar sauce, or a creamy lemon-herb sauce (like the one in this post).

Fried okra on paper towels

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Leftover fried okra will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It’s best served immediately; however, as it tends to lose some of its crispy texture as it sits in the fridge.
  • Do not freeze the fried okra, or it will likely have a mushy, watery texture when thawed.
  • To Reheat: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the okra on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Warm in the oven just until heated through (5-10 minutes).
Square side shot of a bowl of crispy southern fried okra.

Southern Fried Okra Recipe Variations

  • Fresh okra yields the best texture in this recipe. That said, if you want to prepare this recipe using frozen okra, simply thaw before soaking and breading.
  • The cornmeal dredge is a classic coating for okra; however, you could probably create a tasty fried okra with bread crumbs, too. Let me know if you give it a try!
  • Make it spicier by adding some cayenne pepper to the cornmeal mixture.
  • Cooking just for two? Cut all of the ingredients in half. The cooking instructions remain the same!

Tips for the Best Fried Okra Recipe

  • Make sure that you use self-rising cornmeal mix and self-rising flour (not regular cornmeal or regular flour). The leavening in the self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal helps the coating “puff up” when it’s fried, giving the okra that crispy, light-as-air texture.
  • To avoid any “slimy” texture, cut the okra just before you’re ready to soak and dredge it. Don’t let it sit out for too long. The quick cooking method (frying) also helps to prevent any gooey feel.
  • Season the fried okra with salt and pepper, to taste, while the okra is still warm! This is when the extra seasoning will adhere best to the vegetables and breading.
Overhead shot of crispy Southern fried okra in a blue and white enamelware bowl.

More Okra Recipes to Try

Square side shot of a bowl of crispy southern fried okra.

Southern Fried Okra

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 206 kcal
Dredged in cornmeal and fried on the stovetop until golden brown, this crispy fried okra is a Southern classic!

Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • Cut the tips and stems off of the okra, and slice okra into ½-inch long pieces. Place cut okra in a large bowl.
    Cut fresh okra in a stainless steel bowl
  • Pour milk over okra and let stand for at least 10 minutes, but not more than 30 minutes.
    Soaking okra in milk
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper and Creole seasoning.
    Cornmeal coating for fried okra with a whisk
  • Drain milk from the bowl of okra. Place small batches of okra into the cornmeal mixture, tossing to coat.
    Small pieces of okra dredged in cornmeal
  • Pour oil into a large cast iron skillet or Dutch oven to about 1 inch deep. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Place breaded okra into the hot oil, working in small batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry the okra until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
    Process shot of frying okra in a Dutch oven
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove okra from the oil; place on paper towels to drain. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste, while the okra is still warm.
    Fried okra on paper towels

Notes

  • Make sure that you use self-rising cornmeal mix and self-rising flour (not regular cornmeal or regular flour). The leavening in the self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal helps the coating “puff up” when it’s fried, giving the okra that crispy, light-as-air texture.
  • To avoid any “slimy” texture, cut the okra just before you’re ready to soak and dredge it. Don’t let it sit out for too long. The quick cooking method (frying) also helps to prevent any gooey feel.
  • Season the fried okra with salt and pepper, to taste, while the okra is still warm! This is when the extra seasoning will adhere best to the vegetables and breading.
  • It’s practically impossible to calculate the exact nutrition information for this recipe, since the nutrition facts will vary greatly depending on how much oil your okra absorbs and how much breading actually sticks to each bite of okra. The nutrition facts provided are just an estimate.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1/4 of the recipeCalories: 206kcalCarbohydrates: 39gProtein: 6gFat: 3gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 888mgPotassium: 487mgFiber: 7gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 835IUVitamin C: 26.1mgCalcium: 110mgIron: 1.9mg
    Keyword: crispy fried okra, fried okra, fried okra recipe, okra recipe, southern fried okra
    Course: Side, Side Dish
    Cuisine: Southern
    Author: Blair Lonergan
    blair

    Hey, I’m Blair!

    Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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    Comments

    1. Kerry S says:

      5 stars
      This is the way my mom always made delicious crispy fried okra. We only use maybe half an inch of oil. Be sure not to crowd the skillet. We also finely chop sweet onion and tomatoes and serve the hot okra on top. So good!!

      1. Blair Lonergan says:

        So good, right?! I love the idea of serving the hot okra over sweet onion and tomatoes. YUM! 🙂

      2. Vrushali Kelkar says:

        5 stars
        It came out so crispy and tasty! I made fried okra of 1 lbs and took it for my cooking club lunch party, it got over in no time!! Thanks Blair for the recipe!

        1. The Seasoned Mom says:

          We’re so glad it was a hit! Thank you for trying it out and sharing with others, Vrushali.

    2. Billy says:

      5 stars
      Great recipe. My wife did not like any kind of okra before I made this and now fried okra is delicious.

      1. The Seasoned Mom says:

        We’re so glad you enjoyed it, Billy! Thank you for trying it out.