Southern Agrarianism and the culture of the Old South

Fried Okra

One of the very few things that will grow even during the hottest part of the summer is okra. It not only grows, it thrives. Once it starts producing, picking okra is literally a daily task. Okra must be picked before it gets too big. Large okra pods quickly toughen up into a woody texture. The trick is to pick them when they’re about the length of your longest finger – at least that’s how I do it.

Okra can be prepared in a number of ways, but unless you’re part of a very small percentage of people who enjoy a slimy texture, the key is to get rid of the “slime” that okra is well known for. My two favorite ways are fried and in a gumbo with tomatoes. The acid in the tomato cuts the “slime”, and frying also eliminates it. We’ll talk about okra gumbo another time. This post is about fried okra.

Fried okra is almost like eating popcorn or potato chips – you can just keep on eating them until you’re full. One tip that I learned is that, after cutting it up, you want to let it soak for a couple of hours in milk with an egg mixed in. That lets it work its way down through the slices.


Okra pods, sliced and soaking in milk and egg.

In the batter

With the milk and egg serving as a glue, build up a good heavy layer of batter.

Deep fry in oil until the batter turns a golden brown.

At the bottom, fried okra. At the top, eggplant cooked the same way.


  1. John Yelvington

    Sir, thanks for this post. Fried okra is one of my favorites!

  2. ralphie

    Have ya’ll tried freeze dried okra yet? Tastes like potato chips, I like the seasoned kind, is there such a thing as a moderately priced freeze dryer? The DIY projects look ifee..
    Great site! thx

  3. Stephen Clay McGehee

    Interesting – I’ve never heard of freeze dried okra. Where do you get it?

    Freeze drying is a very sophisticated project, and any sort of do-it-yourself project would still be a pretty major undertaking. It involves pulling a vacuum inside of a freezer and holding it there for days. No matter how you look at it, you’re talking about a serious investment in some very specialized equipment.

  4. Lisa Lee

    I recently had fried okra and the seeds were hard and had a bitter taste. Why would this be and should one try to remove the larger seeds?

    Thank you!

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      I am going to guess that you let them get too big. You want to pick them when they are maybe three or four inches long. When I pick them, if they have gotten longer than my fingers, they get tossed on the ground rather than in the bucket. If they get too big, they are tough and “woody”. I’ve found the most reliable way to tell if they’re going to be good is to use sharp garden shears to clip them off the plant and listen to the sound they make. If it is a quiet, as though you were cutting through something soft and green, then the okra will be great. If you can hear it cutting through the fibers of the okra stem, it may have gotten too big to eat. It’s hard to describe, but you’ll know what I’m saying when you cut them off the plant and listen and feel.

  5. Sue Nell Travis

    Okra can be dehydrated, rehydrated, and then fried. Delish. Great snack when eaten dehydrated and seasoned.

    • Stephen Clay McGehee

      Thank you, Sue! Fried and breaded okra is a favorite of mine, so any additional ways to prepare it always looks interesting to me. Do you do anything to prepare the okra before dehydrating it (other than, I assume, cutting it into thin slices)?

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