There’s nothing quite like the taste of crispy, golden brown pan-fried okra with cornmeal, a beloved Southern side dish that you can enjoy year-round. Thousands of readers agree that my Granny’s recipe is the BEST!

Thanks for the simple recipe. It was a hit to the 20ish people I cooked for.

A plate of fried okra with a small bowl of dipping sauce in the center, placed on a wooden trivet. Fresh parsley and whole okra are on the side, and a red and white towel is partially visible.

This is not the deep-fried and flour-coated okra you find in restaurants. It’s a classic skillet-fried okra made with cornmeal and lightly fried. This recipe for Southern fried okra is quick, easy, and absolutely delicious, making it a great option for busy parents.

We’ll walk you through the steps, and you’ll soon be making the best fried okra you’ve ever tasted!

A white plate is filled with golden brown, pan fried okra served on a white paper towel. Fresh green herbs are in the background.

Fried okra has become one of those trendy foods that almost every restaurant features on its appetizer menu. And most of them are the same: chunks of heavily battered deep-fried okra, with often more batter than okra.

My Southern 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. You can even omit the flour completely. The batter is cornmeal-based, and we fry the okra in a skillet with minimal oil.

Why you’ll love this recipe:

EASY – My family’s pan-fried okra recipe with cornmeal is much easier than dipping and battering chunks of okra in flour and then deep-frying. You don’t need anything fancy, just a good skillet. It takes just a few minutes to dredge the okra through the cornmeal mixture and fry it in the skillet.

TASTE – Of course, we think this is the best pan-fried okra recipe! And I bet you will too! You actually taste the okra, not just the breading. And it’s crispier than deep-fried okra 👌🏻

SERVING SUGGESTIONS – You can serve fried okra with just about anything. It’s great with pulled pork, roasted chicken, fried chicken, or our favorite, homemade meatloaf.

If okra is served at home for a meal, there’s usually not 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.

I hope you’ll try this Southern fried okra recipe at home. Generations of our family have loved it, and I think you will too!


A fork holds a piece of fried okra dipped in a comeback sauce, with the focus on the food and a blurred background.

What you’ll need for pan-fried okra

Top-down view of ingredients on a white surface including okra, milk, cornmeal, flour, cooking oil, butter, salt, and pepper.

Fresh okra – try to find smaller pieces of okra, as they will be more tender

Corn meal – use a good quality Southern corn meal like this one

Crisco – use shortening with a high smoke point

Bacon grease or butter – for additional flavor when frying

Salt and pepper – be generous with the salt

Flour (optional) – a little all-purpose flour is all you need if you want to add some

Close-up of several pieces of skillet fried okra on a paper towel, with one piece cut in half showing the inside texture. An uncut okra and a dipping sauce cup are partially visible in the background.


Look for okra at a farmer’s market and choose smaller, bright green pods. Don’t buy hard or overgrown pods. Fresh okra is also almost always available in Asian markets.

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4.64 from 25 votes

Pan Fried Okra

Fried okra with a light and crispy cornmeal batter is a tasty side dish for any of your favorite Southern meals.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 8
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  • 1-2 lbs. fresh okra (3-4 cups sliced)
  • 1 cup corn meal
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup Crisco shortening
  • 4 tablespoons bacon grease or butter
  • ¼ cup flour (optional)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (optional)


  • Slice okra into small pieces, 1/4-1/2-inch. Wash the pieces and place in a strainer. You want the okra to stay slightly wet so the cornmeal will stick.
  • Mix together cornmeal, salt, and pepper. If you want to add a little flour, you can do so now.
  • Optional:
    Dip okra in buttermilk then place in strainer before dredging in cornmeal mixture. (This is if you want a thicker batter but it not really recommended for skillet fried okra.)
  • Dredge okra in cornmeal and shake off excess.
  • Melt shortening and bacon grease or butter in skillet on medium to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (add one piece of okra and see if it sizzles), add some of the okra and cook on one side until nicely browned, then flip to the other side. Don't crowd the pan!
  • Continue cooking and stirring around a little until okra is nicely browned on all sides. Watch it because it will burn quickly!
  • Repeat until all the okra is fried. Add additional shortening and bacon grease as needed but be sure you allow it to heat before adding more okra.
  • Remove okra from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain.


Serving: 1g, Calories: 191kcal, Carbohydrates: 17g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 95mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 3g
Course: Sides
Cuisine: American
Calories: 191
Keyword: fried okra, how to make fried okra, skillet fried okra
Love this recipe?Mention @southernfoodandfun or tag #southernfoodandfun!

Update Notes: This pan-fried okra post was originally published on September 22, 2010, and was updated on June 9, 2024, with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, or new tips.

How to fry okra

Step 1. Prepare the okra. Slice okra into small pieces, 1/4-1/2-inch thick. Wash the pieces and place them in a strainer. You want the okra to stay slightly wet so the cornmeal will stick.

Sliced and whole okra on a dark wooden cutting board with a blue cloth in the background. Some okra pieces have seeds visible.

Step 2. Prepare coating. Stir together cornmeal, flour (if using), salt, and pepper, and dredge okra, shaking off excess.

Cook’s Note: If you want a thicker batter, you can dip the okra in buttermilk before dredging it through the cornmeal. If you do, then dip it in buttermilk and place it in a strainer to drain off the excess. This is really only if you want a thicker batter and is not something we typically do for pan-fried okra.

Step 3. Fry okra. Meanwhile, melt Crisco shortening and about 4 tablespoons of bacon grease or butter in a skillet on medium to medium-high. You want enough oil to come up the sides of the okra a bit but not cover it.

A white skillet on a wooden trivet contains sautéed, breaded okra pieces. Nearby, there are whole okra pods and a blue cloth on a marble surface.

When the oil is hot, add the okra and cook on one side until nicely browned, then flip to the other side.

Continue cooking and stirring until the okra is nicely browned on all sides.

Watch it because it will burn quickly!

Remove the okra from the skillet with a slotted spoon and place it on paper towels to drain. Then, generously sprinkle the fried okra with salt.

A plate of Southern fried okra with a dipping sauce in a small bowl at the center. The plate is placed on a wooden surface, with a red and white striped cloth on the side.

Questions and tips for fried okra

How to fry okra in a skillet?

We use a skillet because it’s the traditional Southern way to cook fried okra. You heat the skillet on medium-high and use an oil with a high smoke point.

How do you fry okra without it being slimy?

The key to reducing the sliminess of okra is to cook it quickly at a high temperature. When you fry the okra quickly in a skillet, the natural sugars don’t have time to release and create the sliminess that can occur.

Does okra need to be soaked before cooking?

Nope, not with this recipe. We’re frying okra with cornmeal in a skillet on relatively high heat and that’s all that’s needed.

Can I use frozen okra?

You can use frozen okra for this recipe. Thaw the okra and drain well. I don’t love frozen okra for pan-frying, but it will work in a pinch.

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About the author

Hi, I’m Lucy! I’m a home cook, writer, food and wine fanatic, and recipe developer. I’ve created and tested hundreds of recipes so that I can bring you the best tried and true favorites.

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4.64 from 25 votes (19 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    First fried okra recipe I’ve looked at and it’s the same way my mama makes! I bought okra and corn meal today to try this tonight. Ooohhhh girl I can taste this already. And I’ve got homegrown tomatoes to go with it. So excited

  2. 5 stars
    This looks more like my Mom’s. Most everyone else seems to have a thick buttermilk and flour batter that I don’t like at all. Thanks for posting.

  3. Can’t wait to try this! I’m in Canada and didn’t grow up eating okra at all. I’ve tried it fried in restaurants in the Southern US, and now see how easy it’ll be to make at home. Thank you.