Fried okra chunks in bowl

Okra, we’ll earnestly acknowledge, is not for everyone. If you steam it or boil it, it can have a texture that’s a bit too soft — some might even call it slimy. That’s too bad, since okra has all kinds of nutritious goodness that could benefit your body, if only you could get yourself to eat it. Well, how about frying it instead?

Recipe developer Jaime Shelbert has come up with a way to cook okra that takes the slime factor out of the equation: she coats it in cornmeal and then pan-fries it. As Shelbert tells us, "With this cooking method, the okra is tender-crisp." She also points out that "pan-fried okra is a healthier variation of traditional fried okra," explaining that "it uses a lot less oil and light breading." Shelbert advises that it’s good for your health to diversify your vegetable intake and suggests "If you like green beans or zucchini, then give okra a try [as] it’s slightly similar in taste and texture."

Assemble the ingredients for pan-fried okra

ingredients for fried okra

To make this dish, you’ll obviously need okra — Shelbert says to "look for pods that are firm and bright green in color [and] free from bruises." You’ll also need either cornmeal or corn flour (not to be mistaken with corn starch). For seasoning the okra, you’ll use salt, pepper, and cayenne, and for cooking, you’ll need some oil. Shelbert uses extra virgin olive oil for frying, but you could use whatever you have on hand.

Cook the okra in a covered pan

chopped okra in frying pan

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat, then add the okra. Stir it all up until each piece of okra is coated with oil. Put a lid on the pan and cook the okra for about 8 minutes, or until it turns bright green. During the 8 minutes of cooking time, open the lid every few minutes and stir the okra.

Add the seasonings and cornmeal

okra and cornmeal in pan

Once the okra is looking green, add some salt, pepper, and cayenne to the pan and stir until the seasonings are evenly distributed. After the okra is seasoned to taste, mix in the cornmeal. Stir the contents of the pan until all of the okra is coated with cornmeal.

Stir-fry the okra until done

fried okra in pan

Pour the remaining oil into the pan, then leave the lid off as you finish up the cooking. Give the okra another 5 minutes or so on the stove, stirring occasionally. Once each piece is a nice golden brown, the okra should be done.

Shelbert suggests that "okra can be served with a mayonnaise such as an aioli," and also notes that it will pair nicely with other southern favorites. You might keep it in mind as a side dish for barbecue, Brunswick stew, or jambalaya.

This pan fried okra is the perfect snack or appetizer — even those who don’t typically like okra will enjoy this recipe!

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound fresh okra, ends trimmed and cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ⅓ cup fine-ground cornmeal or corn flour
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the okra to the pan and stir until it’s coated with oil.
  3. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 8 minutes, until the okra is bright green, removing the lid and stirring occasionally.
  4. Season the okra with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir the cornmeal and cayenne into the okra, mixing until every piece is coated.
  6. Pour the remaining oil into the pan.
  7. Fry the okra, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes, until it’s golden brown.