Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes is a classic Southern dish! Flavored with bacon, onion, garlic and cider vinegar, you know these vegetables are bound to be good. Serve garden fresh okra and tomatoes during the summer months, or use canned and frozen ingredients in the off-season. Paired with a side of cornbread, this is a simple and affordable dish to enjoy year-round!

Overhead image of the best okra and tomatoes recipe in a Dutch oven

Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

Okra seems to be quite divisive: folks either love it or they hate it! This mild green fruit (yes, we treat it like a vegetable, but it’s actually a fruit) that has a unique grassy flavor — somewhat similar to eggplant or green beans — thrives in hot and humid climates, making it a staple in Southern cuisine. My mom has always loved fried okra, so I suppose that I come by my affinity for the little pods naturally! That said, I think that I might just prefer this easy stewed okra and tomatoes recipe over the breaded, fried variety. Hard to believe, right?! It’s just that good…

Maybe it’s the bacon, onion and garlic that really sets this dish apart? My local friends were laughing recently when I shared my recipe for Southern-Style Green Beans (which of course includes bacon as well) — one said that, “I was a teenager when I learned not all vegetables have meat in them or are soaked in butter,” and another said, “whhaaaaaaatttt????? “Fat back” isn’t a vegetable????” I suppose that we learned a long time ago — bacon, fatback, and ham hocks make okra and just about every other vegetable taste better!

Why This Recipe is So Delicious

This dish, which is adapted from Paula Deen’s okra and tomatoes recipe, has been a favorite around here for years. I’ve tweaked the original over time, landing on what we deem to be the best version of this Southern classic. Here’s why you’ll love it, too:

  • You can use garden fresh okra and tomatoes during the summer months when these veggies are at their peak;
  • You can use frozen okra and canned diced tomatoes in the off-season (or for a shortcut);
  • Bacon adds a rich, smoky element to the dish, which is balanced nicely by a touch of sugar, fresh herbs, and a dash of vinegar.
  • The recipe comes together quickly in a skillet or Dutch oven on the stovetop, so you don’t need to turn on your oven and you don’t have to wait for hours while the veggies simmer.
  • You can serve the versatile dish as a light lunch or dinner entrée with cornbread or biscuits, or offer it as a side dish with heartier meat-based meals.
Square side shot of a white Dutch oven with southern okra and tomatoes

How do you make okra not slimy?

Okra contains mucilage, a substance that acts as a natural thickener when heated. While this is beneficial to dishes like gumbo, it also produces the sliminess that’s often associated with okra. Honestly, I haven’t noticed that the okra has a slimy texture in this particular recipe. That said, there are a few proven methods for reducing the slime quotient of cooked okra. Some folks suggest waiting to slice the okra until right before you’re ready to cook it. Others claim that soaking it in vinegar before cooking helps minimize a slimy texture. Again, I’m not too worried about slimy okra here, as I haven’t noticed that it’s a problem.

Ingredients

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

  • Okra: fresh when it’s in season, or frozen as a great substitute. If using frozen, you don’t even need to thaw it before adding it to the pot.
  • Tomatoes: use fresh tomatoes when they’re in season; otherwise canned tomatoes are your best bet.
  • Bacon: I always use thick-cut bacon. If you’re using regular bacon, you’ll need an extra strip or two.
  • Vidalia onion: for delicious sweet and savory flavor. If you can’t find Vidalia onions, just use any other sweet onion variety.
  • Garlic, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper: for even more flavor.
  • Apple cider vinegar: a bright, acidic touch.
  • Sugar: balances the acidity in the tomatoes.
  • Worcestershire sauce: for salty, umami flavor.

How to Cook Okra and Tomatoes

Okra and tomatoes are a classic combination that takes advantage of fresh-from-the-garden late-summer produce. This simple dish comes together easily in a skillet or Dutch oven on the stovetop. When the summer heat is beating down, you don’t even have to turn on your oven!

  1. Cook bacon in a large skillet or Dutch oven for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onion and garlic, cooking for about 5 more minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, thyme, bay leaf, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the okra, cover with a lid, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the okra is tender. This takes about 10-12 minutes for fresh okra or about 7-8 minutes for frozen okra.
  6. Remove the bay leaf.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve and enjoy!
Bacon onion and garlic in a pot
Diced tomatoes in a pot with herbs
Horizontal overhead shot of skillet okra cooked with tomatoes bacon onion and garlic

What to Serve with Southern Okra and Tomatoes

If you’d like to offer the okra and tomatoes as an entrée for a light lunch or dinner, pair the dish with cornbread, corn muffins, rice, cheese biscuits, sour cream muffins, or buttermilk biscuits.

As a side dish, okra goes well with any of these easy Southern-inspired entrées:

Okra cooked with tomatoes in a Dutch oven with a silver serving spoon

Storage

Leftover okra and tomatoes will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat, just microwave until warm or transfer to a skillet and cook over low heat until warmed through.

Can you freeze stewed okra and tomatoes?

Yes, you can freeze this dish; however, the vegetables will have a mushier, more watery texture when thawed. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Recipe Variations

  • If you don’t have thick-cut bacon, increase the total amount of bacon to 4-5 regular strips.
  • For a heartier meal, add shrimp or sausage to the dish.
  • Try Creole seasoning for a Cajun twist, or a bit of cayenne to make it spicy.
  • Corn is also a nice addition to the pot. You can use fresh corn off the cob, or stir in frozen kernels instead.

Tips for the Best Okra and Tomatoes Recipe

  • Use fresh okra and fresh tomatoes in the summer when the produce is at its peak. Otherwise, frozen okra and canned tomatoes also work beautifully and offer consistent flavor and texture.
  • Frozen okra tends to soften a bit faster than fresh okra, so reduce the cooking time slightly if using frozen vegetables. You do not need to thaw the okra before adding it to the pot.
  • If using fresh tomatoes, you’ll need about 2 ½ cups of seeded and diced tomatoes. You’ll also need to add about ½ cup of liquid to replace the juice from the canned tomatoes. Water, broth, or red wine will all work well.
Close overhead shot of a pot of stewed okra and tomatoes

More Okra Recipes to Try

Overhead image of the best okra and tomatoes recipe in a Dutch oven

Okra and Tomatoes

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 people
Calories 126 kcal
Stewed Okra and Tomatoes is a classic Southern dish! Flavored with bacon, onion, garlic and cider vinegar, you know these vegetables are bound to be good.

Ingredients
  

  • 3 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 small Vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, NOT drained (see note below to use fresh tomatoes instead)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen okra, stems trimmed and cut into ½ -inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook bacon until the bacon is starting to get crispy and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the onion and garlic; saute for 5 more minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes (with their juices), sugar, thyme, bay leaf, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Use the juices from the tomatoes to deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  • Add the okra, cover with a lid, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the okra is tender (about 10-12 minutes for fresh okra or 7-8 minutes for frozen okra).
  • Remove the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Use fresh okra and fresh tomatoes in the summer when the produce is at its peak. Otherwise, frozen okra and canned tomatoes also work beautifully and offer consistent flavor and texture.
  • Frozen okra tends to soften a bit faster than fresh okra, so reduce the cooking time slightly if using frozen vegetables. You do not need to thaw the okra before adding it to the pot.
  • If using fresh tomatoes, you’ll need about 2 ½ cups of seeded and diced tomatoes. You’ll also need to add about ½ cup of liquid to replace the juice from the canned tomatoes. Water, broth, or red wine will all work well.
  • If you don’t have thick-cut bacon, increase the total amount of bacon to 4-5 regular strips.
  • For a heartier meal, add shrimp or sausage to the dish.
  • Try Creole seasoning for a Cajun twist, or a bit of cayenne to make it spicy.
  • Corn is also a nice addition to the pot. You can use fresh corn off the cob, or stir in frozen kernels instead.
  • Recipe adapted from Paula Deen.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the recipeCalories: 126kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 4gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 12mgSodium: 317mgPotassium: 419mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 401IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 76mgIron: 2mg
Keyword: okra and tomatoes, southern okra and tomatoes, stewed okra and tomatoes
Course: Side Dish, Sides
Cuisine: American, 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!

Read More

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thyme and Worcestershire sauce are not necessary and distract from the simple flavor that a classic tomato and okra stew or gumbo should have. Next time, I will not add these ingredients. Otherwise, it is a good recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    By far, the tastiest okra with tomatoes, even without the bacon (I used some Olive oil). The vinegar is a nice touch. By the way, the first time I made your recipe I added a small can of diced tomatoes with chilies. That was also a big hit with the family. Thank you.

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, and it was perfect! I used canned diced tomatoes and frozen okra. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hi, Miranda! If using the fresh tomatoes and frozen okra, the cooking instructions will be the same. You’ll need about 2 ½ cups of seeded and diced tomatoes. You’ll also need to add about ½ cup of liquid to replace the juice from the canned tomatoes. Water, broth, or red wine will all work well. Otherwise, just follow the same recipe directions. Hope you enjoy!

  4. 5 stars
    Great assortment of tastes and textures. I processed the FRESH okra first: cut off stems, salt liberally, and drizzle a few Tbs. of vinegar over all in a bowl, set aside. FRESH Big Boy tomatoes: blanch quickly and peel, thumb out seeds, save the juice and add later. Also, I added some smoked white meat chicken I’d frozen. Magnificent dish!