Pan Fried Okra

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Pan Fried Okra is a southern side dish that’s crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It’s dredged in buttermilk and cornmeal mix for a crunchy summer treat!

fried okra in a black cast iron skillet with a green towel in background.
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Why You’ll Love This Recipe

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, or honey mustard dressing.

There are several ways to prepare it, but this classic recipe is battered and stir fried in a cast iron skillet (ad). Instead of deep frying each piece, 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 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 pan fried okra 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
  • buttermilk – helps the cornmeal stick to the okra
  • cornmeal mix – pre-mixed and ready to use
  • Texas Pete Dry Dust seasoning – an optional spice that provides a nice ‘kick’
  • salt – use as a dusting as soon as okra is removed from skillet

Ingredient quantities are listed in the recipe card.

ingredients needed for pan fried okra.
Ingredients needed for Fried Okra recipe

How to Fry Okra

1 – Start by preparing a dredging station with one bowl of buttermilk and one bowl of cornmeal mix. Add a sprinkle of Texas Pete dry dust seasoning to the cornmeal mix and whisk together.

2 – Cut off the ends and slice fresh okra into 1/4 inch chunks. Dip it into buttermilk, then dredge into cornmeal mix. Place dredged okra into a bowl until oil is ready.

3 – Pour oil into the bottom of a cast iron skillet (ad) or frying pan until it just covers the bottom. Heat on medium to 325 degrees. Add okra a few slices at a time until bottom of pan is covered. 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.

4 – Drain okra onto a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool slightly. Dust with salt and serve hot as a side dish or appetizer.

Top Tips

  • 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.

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 1/2 cup self rising flour and 1/2 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.

Serving Suggestions

I like to serve skillet fried okra with a variety of dips because there’s just something about this crunchy vegetable that tastes amazing when dunked. My favorite dip is honey mustard mixed with a little Texas Pete Dry Dust (ad) and garlic powder.

Some folks like to fry okra in bacon grease and chop bacon into it. I have to say that this method is mighty good. Bacon makes everything a little better, doesn’t it?

If you love this recipe, you’ll go crazy over these other southern favorites…

Recipe Card

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

Pan Fried Okra

Pan Fried Okra is a southern side dish that's crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It's dredged in buttermilk and cornmeal mix for a crunchy summer treat!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 428kcal

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

Equipment

  • mixing bowls and spoons
  • skillet

Ingredients

Fried Okra

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

Honey Mustard Dip

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ Tablespoon stone ground mustard (not the dry powder)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • teaspoon Texas Pete Dust (seasoning)
  • teaspoon garlic powder

Instructions

Fried Okra

  • Prepare a dredging station with one bowl of buttermilk and a large bowl of cornmeal mix.
  • Add seasoning to the cornmeal mix and whisk together. Garlic salt can be substituted for Texas Pete if desired.
  • Wash okra and pat dry. Cut off the ends and slice fresh okra into 1/4 inch chunks. 
  • With hands, dip okra into buttermilk, the dredge into cornmeal mix. Place dredged okra into a bowl until oil is ready to use.
  • Pour 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.
  • 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.

Honey Mustard Dip

  • Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve with fried okra. Makes 1/2 cup.

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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