Fried okra with a light and crispy cornmeal batter is a tasty side dish for any of your favorite Southern meals. And it’s easy to make!
Fried okra has become one of those trendy items that almost every restaurant features on their appetizer menu. And most of them are all the same: chunks of heavily battered okra deep fried, with oftentimes more batter than okra.
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My fried okra recipe is the way my Mama makes it and my Granny made it and pretty much anyone I encountered growing up. There’s very little flour involved. The batter is cornmeal-based and the okra is fried in the skillet.
If okra is served at home for a meal, there’s not usually a fancy dipping sauce like you get in restaurants. But if you’re into that sort of thing, I recommend my Comeback Sauce as the perfect choice.
How to fry okra
Step 1. Prepare the okra
Slice okra into 1/2-inch pieces. Wash the pieces and place in strainer. You want the okra to stay moist so the cornmeal will stick.
Cook’s Note: You can dip the okra in buttermilk before dredging through the cornmeal if you want a slightly thicker batter. If you do then dip in buttermilk and then place in strainer to drain off the excess.
Step 2. Prepare batter
Stir together cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper, and dredge okra, shaking off excess.
Step 3. Fry okra
Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter and about 4 tablespoons oil in skillet on medium-high. You want enough oil to come up the sides of the okra a bit, but not cover it.
When the oil is hot, add the okra and cook on one side until nicely browned, then flip to the other side.
Turn the heat down a little and continue cooking and stirring around a little until okra is nicely browned on all sides.
Watch it because it will brown quickly!
Remove from skillet with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle your fried okra generously with salt.
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- 1-2 lbs. fresh okra
- 1 cup corn meal
- ¼ cup flour
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup buttermilk (optional)
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup canola oil
- Wash okra and pat dry, then slice into 1/2-inch pieces, discarding the tops.
- Mix together cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper.
- Optional: Dip okra in buttermilk then place in strainer before dredging in cornmeal mixture. (This is if you want a thicker batter.)
- Dredge okra in cornmeal and shake off excess.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter and about 4 tablespoons oil in skillet on medium-high. When the oil is hot, add some of the okra and cook on one side until nicely browned, then flip to the other side. Don’t crowd the pan!
- Turn the heat down a little and continue cooking and stirring around a little until okra is nicely browned on all sides. Watch it because it will brown quickly!
- Repeat until all the okra is fried. Add oil and butter as needed.
- Remove from skillet with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.
Update Notes: This Fried Okra post was originally published September 22, 2010, and on June 23, 2020, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.
For a different twist on okra, try these Crispy Oven Baked Okra Chips. They are so good!