Southern Pan Fried Okra Recipe

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This Southern Pan Fried Okra recipe is a classic side dish that's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It's dredged in buttermilk and cornmeal mix, then pan-fried in a cast iron skillet for the best southern fried okra recipe you've ever tasted!

fried okra in a black cast iron skillet with a green towel in background.
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Why You'll Love It

  • Delicious: crunchy fried okra makes a great snack or the perfect side dish
  • Easy to Make: pan frying okra in a cast iron skillet is the best way to cook this southern staple
  • Quick Recipe: easy dish that's ready in just 30 minutes!
  • Simple Dish: requires only 6 ingredients easily found at the grocery store
  • Nutritional Value: good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C and potassium. While frying okra adds extra fat, it's fine to eat in moderation.

Recipe Highlights

Whether it's called 'okra' or 'okry', southerners love their pan-fried okra so much they often call it southern popcorn. It's usually eaten as a vegetable side dish, but can also be served as an appetizer with ranch, blue cheese dip, or honey mustard dressing.

There are several ways to prepare it, but this southern classic is battered and stir fried in a cast iron skillet until it has the perfect crunchy texture. Instead of deep frying each piece of okra, the old fashioned method is to scatter and stir frequently. Most folks enjoy this old school style of cooking since it uses less oil.

Even though the common way to eat fried okra is with sides like macaroni and cheese and collard greens, many southern restaurants serve it as an appetizer before a meal. When cooked from scratch in small batches, it's so good you'll have a hard time not eating it before it gets to the table!

honey mustard dip in the middle of a plate of fried okra.

Ingredients

The best fried okra recipe is made with White Lily Cornmeal Mix. (ad) It's pre-mixed and ready to use so crispy fried nuggets come out perfectly every time.

  • fresh whole okra - choose small bright green pods with only a few blemishes
  • buttermilk - helps the corn meal stick to the okra and tenderizes each piece
  • cornmeal mix - pre-mixed and ready to use
  • Texas Pete Dry Dust seasoning - an optional spice that provides a nice 'kick'
  • sea salt - use as a dusting as soon as okra is removed from skillet
  • vegetable oil - can substitute canola or olive oil if desired

Ingredient quantities are listed in the recipe card.

Equipment

  • large skillet
  • large mixing bowl
  • small mixing bowls
  • slotted spoon
ingredients needed for pan fried okra.
Ingredients needed for Pan Fried Okra

How to Choose the Best Fresh Okra

  • Be sure to choose fresh whole okra pods that are bright green in color. Some brown spots are okay because the pods tend to bruise easily.
  • When cutting pods, they should slice neatly with a knife. If they fall apart when slicing, they're not a good batch and should be replaced.
  • Smaller pods are easier to cook than the larger type and are usually more tender.

How to Make Southern Pan Fried Okra

1 - Prepare a dredging station with one bowl of buttermilk and one bowl of cornmeal mix. Add a sprinkle of Texas Pete dry dust (ad) seasoning to the cornmeal mix and whisk together.

okra sliced into chunks on a red plate.

2 - Cut off the ends and slice fresh pods into ¼ inch chunks. Dip cut pieces into buttermilk, then dredge okra into cornmeal mixture.

steps to take when dredging.

3 - Place dredged pieces into a bowl until hot oil is ready.

dredged okra in a white bowl.

4 - Pour vegetable oil into the bottom of a cast iron skillet or frying pan until it just covers the bottom. Turn stove top to medium heat (around 325 degrees). Add okra a few slices at a time in a single layer into hot oil until the bottom of the pan is covered.

okra added to skillet beginning to cook.

5 - Fry about 3 minutes until a crust forms, then turn over with a large slotted spoon and fry until golden brown, stirring from time to time.

okra mid way into frying process.

6- For best results, drain okra onto a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool slightly. You can also use a cooling rack if you don't have paper towels. Work in small batches. Dust with salt and serve hot as a side dish or appetizer.

okra finished frying

Recipe FAQS

How do I keep fresh okra from being slimy?

The fresher it is, the less slimy it will be. But, most okra has a little slime when you cut into it. Don't worry too much about the texture because once it is deep fried, it will lose its slimy appearance.

Can I use frozen okra in this recipe?

You can, but you'll need to dry it out first. The extra water that forms from the freezing process can cause problems when frying. Thaw frozen okra in a towel and dry it well, then let it air out on the counter before cutting.

Can I make my own cornmeal mix?

If you can't find cornmeal mix in your local store, simply whisk together ½ cup self rising flour and ½ cup cornmeal together to use as a substitute. To make this recipe gluten free, use only cornmeal and omit the flour.

fried okra surrounding a green dish of honey mustard sauce.

Variations

  • Some folks like to fry okra in bacon grease and add chopped bacon to the mix. Bacon has a way of making everything a little bit better!
  • Feel free to substitute the type of oil if desired. Keep in mind that oil with a higher smoke point works better.
  • For a gluten-free batter, use plain cornmeal with flour added.
  • Instead of using Texas Pete dust, add a dash of cayenne pepper or chipotle seasoning to the batter. Or, leave out the spice completely and simply use salt and pepper.

What to Serve with Fried Okra

Handy Tip: Prepare Ahead!

Set up the dredging station and chop okra before heating up the oil on the stove top. If the oil gets too hot, the batter can scorch quickly.

Storage and Freezing

Leftovers - store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Place on a sheet pan in a single layer and reheat in a 400 degree F oven for 5 to 10 minutes until crispy.

Freezing - freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 months. To reheat, place on a baking sheet in a 400ºF oven for 10 to 15 minutes until crispy, or reheat in an air fryer.

More Fried Recipes

If you love southern side dishes, you'll swoon over these additional southern favorites...

Recipe Card

fried okra in a cast iron skillet with a colorful spoon.

Southern Pan Fried Okra

This Southern Pan Fried Okra recipe is a classic side dish that's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It's dredged in buttermilk and cornmeal mix, then pan-fried for the best southern fried okra recipe you've ever tasted!
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings8
Calories: 428kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Ingredients

Fried Okra

  • 1 pound fresh okra
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups cornmeal mix
  • 1 teaspoon Texas Pete Dry Dust Seasoning
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • salt to dust

Honey Mustard Dip

Instructions

Fried Okra

  • Prepare a dredging station with buttermilk and cornmeal mix.
    1 cup buttermilk, 2 cups cornmeal mix
  • Add Texas Pete seasoning to cornmeal mix and whisk together.
    1 teaspoon Texas Pete Dry Dust Seasoning
  • Wash fresh okra and pat dry. Cut off the ends and slice fresh okra into ¼ inch chunks. 
    1 pound fresh okra
  • With hands, dip okra into buttermilk, the dredge into cornmeal mix. Place dredged okra into a bowl until oil is ready to use.
  • Pour vegetable oil into the bottom of a skillet until it just covers the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat to medium. When oil is hot, add a few okra slices at a time until bottom of pan is covered.
    1 cup vegetable oil
  • Fry okra for 3 minutes, then using a large slotted spoon, stir until the okra turns over. Continue to fry over medium heat and stir frequently until golden brown.
  • Drain grease from okra by transferring it to a paper towel lined plate. Cool slightly, then dust with salt. Serve immediately.
    salt to dust

Honey Mustard Dip

  • Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve with fried okra. Makes ½ cup.
    ½ cup mayonnaise, ½ Tablespoon stone ground mustard, 1 Tablespoon honey, ⅛ teaspoon Texas Pete Dust, ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder

Notes

  • Be sure to choose fresh whole okra that is bright green in color. Some brown spots are okay because it tends to bruise easily. However, if it has a bunch of dark spots or black stripes, it's not fresh.
  • When cutting okra, it should slice neatly with a knife. If it falls apart when slicing, it's not a good batch and should be replaced.
  • Smaller pods of okra are easier to cook than the larger type and are usually more tender.

Nutrition

Calories: 428kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 596mg | Potassium: 306mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 218mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I got excited when I saw this recipe pop up. I like the way you pan fry your okra instead of breading each piece. Seems easier and faster to me.

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