This Southern Fried Okra Recipe is made with fresh okra coated in buttermilk and dredged in a flavorful mixture of flour, cornmeal, and seasonings. Deep-fried until crispy and golden brown, enjoy this delicious Southern classic as an appetizer or side dish.
Southern Fried Okra
Perfectly golden and bite-size, few things are better than southern fried okra. A delicious summer appetizer or snack, this quintessential Southern comfort food has a crispy crust and is tender inside with no slime in sight!
What is Okra?
Okra, also known as “ladies’ fingers” or “gumbo,” is derived from the flowering plant Hibiscus esculentus and is known for its edible, star-shaped, green seed pods. For culinary purposes, the pods are harvested while they are young and tender. Okra has a mild, earthy, and somewhat grassy flavor and produces a viscous (slimy) juice, a key characteristic that may be used to thicken soups and stews (like gumbo).
Find the printable recipe with measurements in the recipe card below.
To make this southern fried okra recipe, you will need – vegetable oil, fresh okra, all-purpose flour, yellow cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, paprika, buttermilk, one egg, and hot sauce.
Can I Use Frozen Okra?
Yes, although I find that fresh okra offers better texture and flavor. Remember to thaw and completely dry the okra before coating.
How to Pick Fresh Okra for Frying
Here are some tips for picking the perfect okra for frying:
- Look for smaller pods, approximately 2-4 inches in length.
- Fresh okra should be bright and vibrant green without any significant signs of discoloration.
- The pods should be clean and dry, with no signs of damage, sliminess, or mold.
- The pods should be tender and snap cleanly when bent.
How to Make Fried Okra
1. Prepare the okra for frying: Begin by rinsing the okra pods under cold water to remove any dirt or residue, then dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel or paper towel. Trim the stems and slice the remaining pods into 1-inch pieces.
2. Heat enough oil in a deep skillet or frying pan to cover the bottom by at least 2-3 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 360 degrees Fahrenheit. You can test if the oil is ready by dropping a single water droplet into the oil. If it’s ready, the water will sizzle and pop (always use this method cautiously as it can splatter and cause burns). The most accurate method is to check the temperature with a deep-fry thermometer.
3. Next, toss the okra with one cup of all-purpose flour in a large bowl until coated. Then, use a spoon to transfer the okra to a fine-mesh strainer. Set the strainer over the bowl that was holding the okra and shake to remove excess flour.
4. Discard the excess flour left behind in the bowl and add the remaining half cup of flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and paprika. Whisk until combined.
5. Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and hot sauce in a large bowl.
6. Add half of the okra to the buttermilk mixture, coating it completely. Use a spoon to transfer the okra to a spider strainer or fine mesh strainer to drain excess buttermilk.
7. Add the buttermilk-coated pieces of okra to the cornmeal mixture and toss to coat. Use a spoon to transfer the okra to a spider strainer or fine mesh strainer to shake off the excess coating.
8. Carefully spoon the okra pieces into the oil and fry for 8-10 minutes, turning them a few times so they cook evenly. (The okra should be golden but not too dark as they will continue to darken as they cool.) Strain from the oil and set aside on the cooling rack.
9. Allow the oil to heat to temperature again before repeating the coating and frying process with the remaining half of the okra. Let the okra cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe Tips for Perfect Fried Okra
- Prepare using fresh, small to medium-sized okra that are firm and bright green.
- Rinse the okra under cold water and dry thoroughly. Okra that isn’t dried properly may cause the oil to splatter and prevent the coating from sticking correctly.
- Heat the oil to the correct temperature, between 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). The easiest way to monitor the temperature of the oil is with a deep-fry thermometer. If the oil is not hot enough, the okra will absorb too much oil and become soggy; if it’s too hot, the outside will burn before the inside is cooked.
- Fry the okra in batches. Overcrowding can lower the oil’s temperature too quickly, resulting in soggy okra.
- Stir occasionally for even cooking and to prevent them from sticking together.
- Use a spider strainer to shake the excess coating from the okra before frying and to remove the fried okra from the hot oil.
Storing Leftover Fried Okra
Allow leftover fried okra to cool to room temperature before transferring to a paper-towel-lined airtight container in a single layer. Place in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
To return some of its crispiness, your best bet is to reheat leftovers in the oven or an air fryer—using the microwave results in soggy leftovers. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) or your air fryer to 375°F (190°C). Spread the okra in a single layer on a baking sheet or in the air fryer basket and reheat for 5-10 minutes or until heated through and crispy (the air fryer will cook faster).
Can You Freeze Fried Okra?
Freezing leftover fried okra is not recommended, as it will significantly affect the texture, making it soggy when reheated.
More Southern Classics
- Southern Collard Greens Recipe
- Chicken Fried Chicken Recipe
- Sweet Cornbread Recipe
- Pimento Cheese Recipe
- Sweet Potato Pie Recipe
- Nashville Hot Chicken
If you try making this Fried Okra Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
Fried Okra Recipe
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 ½ pounds fresh okra - stem trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour - divided
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoon hot sauce
- Heat enough oil in a large 12-inch deep skillet or frying pan to cover the bottom by at least 2-3 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, place a large cooling rack over a large baking sheet and set it aside for later.
- Coat the okra with one cup of all-purpose flour in a large bowl. Then, use a spoon to transfer the okra to a fine-mesh strainer. Shake to remove any excess flour.
- Discard any excess flour left behind in the bowl and add the remaining half cup of flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and paprika. Whisk until combined. Set aside.
- Then, in a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and hot sauce.
- Add half of the okra to the buttermilk mixture, coating it completely. Use a spoon to transfer the okra to a spider strainer or fine mesh strainer to drain excess buttermilk.
- Place the okra in the cornmeal mixture and toss to coat. Use a spoon to transfer the okra to a spider strainer or fine mesh strainer to shake off the excess coating.
- Carefully add the breaded okra to the oil and fry for 8-10 minutes, turning them a few times so they cook evenly. (The okra should be golden but not too dark as they will continue to darken as they cool.) Strain from the oil and set aside on the prepared cooling rack or a paper-towel-lined plate.
- Allow the oil to heat back to temperature again before repeating the coating and frying process with the remaining half of the okra. Let the okra cool for 5 minutes before serving.
For the Dipping Sauce (optional)
- Mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Storage: Keep leftovers stored in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 3 days. Freezing is not recommended. Reheat in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven or 375°F (190°C) air fryer until crisp and reheated (about 10 minutes in the oven and 5 minutes in the air fryer).
- Variations: Feel free to add a little Cajun flair by adding your favorite Cajun seasoning to the cornflour mixture, or add some heat with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)