Try my grandma's classic Southern Fried Okra recipe and you won't be disappointed. You can even add a little creole seasoning to kick the flavors up a notch.
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When I was a kid, I tiptoed around okra - that is, until I had it fried. My Grandma Edra (pronounced EE-druh - unique, huh?) was born in Louisiana and raised in Mississippi, and she sure knew how to make fried okra. Ever since I had her southern fried okra recipe, I've enjoyed okra in all kinds of dishes. I especially love it in gumbo, but I have to say that Grandma's southern fried okra is still my favorite.
Is it hard to make Southern Fried Okra?
Not at all. The ingredients are basic, and it just takes a little bit of time - 10 minutes - to mix up the batter.
Can you use frozen okra?
Yep! You can use fresh or frozen okra for Southern Fried Okra. I found in the Midwest that the fresh okra at the supermarket didn't always look so nice, so I'd often buy the frozen cut variety. If you opt for frozen, be sure to let it thaw completely. Spreading it out on paper towels to thaw helps absorb the excess water from thawing.
Dry the okra after it's thawed by blotting it with more paper towels, so it looks nice and dry. This is important, because if you leave the excess water on the okra, the batter won't adhere to it very well.
Choosing fresh okra at the store
There are several varieties of okra, and the most popular (and common) is Clemson Spineless. It's the variety you'll find most often at produce sections of supermarkets. Look for small okra, no more than four inches long from the base of the stem to the tip of the okra fruit. Any longer than that and you run the risk of getting "woody" okra - which is absolutely not appetizing to bite into. Choose okra that's nice and plump. If it appears shriveled (the ribs are too visible), then it's drying out and you should pass it by and use frozen instead.
Prepping okra - fresh or frozen
As mentioned above, frozen okra should be thawed before frying and blotted with paper towels before coating it with batter. The batter won't stick to wet okra.
Wash and air dry fresh okra (or blot with paper towels) before cutting. Cut the stem portion off and discard.
If you need to slice whole okra (fresh or frozen), slice it into ½- to ¾-inch slices.
Can't stand okra slime?
When okra is cooked, it produces a slick liquid on the inside called "mucilage." It's actually very good for you, packed with soluble fiber, and it's used as a thickening agent in gumbo and other dishes. If you can't stomach the thought of eating it (pun intended), before preparing this recipe for Southern Fried Okra, soak the okra in vinegar for 30 minutes to help break it and dissolve it. After soaking, it put it in a colander and gently shake it to remove excess moisture and vinegar. Be sure to then dry off the outside of the pods before dipping them in the batter.
Storing Southern Fried Okra
If you actually have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat them, I do not recommend using the microwave - you'll end up with soggy fried okra (ugh). Instead, place them in a skillet on a low heat, and heat until hot throughout - turning them to re-crisp both sides. You can also put them in toaster oven on a low heat, as well.
Like Southern Fried Okra? Here's More Mouth-Watering Southern Recipes
Southern Fried Okra
- 12 ounces fresh okra, chopped into roughly ⅓-inch slices or 12 ounces frozen okra
- 2 eggs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1¼ cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup corn meal
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika not smoked
- 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere Creole Seasoning (original recipe) or ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Cooking oil for frying, about 1 inch depth
- Salt and pepper the okra in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
- Beat the eggs until fully blended, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients until well-incorporated.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet to about 325℉.
- Put the beaten egg into the bowl with the okra. Toss lightly but thoroughly.
- I find using my hands for this next step works best: In small handfuls, remove some okra from the bowl and let the excess egg drip back into the bowl, then put the okra in the bowl with the flour mixture. Do this until all the okra is in the flour mixture.
- Toss the okra in the flour mixture lightly but thoroughly.
- In small handfuls, remove the okra from the flour mixture and shake off excess flour - I find a wire spider works great for this. Then add it to the pan of oil.
- Working quickly, continue the above step until all the okra is in the hot oil.
- Use a rubber or silicon spatula to separate the okra pieces so they don't clump together - they'll want to clump until they've fried a few seconds.
- Fry about 4-5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally to brown the okra evenly.
- Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels or a wire rack. Salt and pepper them lightly, serve hot and enjoy!