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How to Make the Best Old-Fashioned Southern Fried Okra

Christy has traveled to Disney World with her family several times, and each visit gives her something new to discover.

There's nothing better than fried okra!

There's nothing better than fried okra!

My Grandmother's Fried Okra

I am fortunate to live in close proximity to my family. They live in a rural area and have large vegetable gardens every year. In the summer, I greatly benefit from the surplus in their gardens and receive several pounds of fresh-cut okra each year.

As per our reputation, here in the Deep South we fry basically everything. Ever since I was a young child, I loved fried okra. I remember my grandmother frying it in her black cast iron skillet on her gas stove when we would go for a visit. There was nothing better! We would all sneak nibbles of its crispy goodness as the okra sat cooling on the plate.

When I go to a restaurant or even try to buy okra in the store, it is always the kind with a thick layer of batter all around. Even though this is certainly edible, it is nothing compared to the way my grandmother and mother make their fried okra. Their okra was thin, lightly breaded with cornmeal, and fried to make mouthwatering crunchy bites. In my opinion, the more commercially produced fried okra just doesn't even come close!

Thankfully, my grandmother, mother, and aunts have passed down their great okra frying wisdom to me. While I am not an exceptional cook by any means, if you ask my husband if I have any dishes that I make especially well, he will say without hesitation that I do know how to fry some great okra!

My parent's garden contains a variety of veggies, including okra

My parent's garden contains a variety of veggies, including okra

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Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 pounds fresh-cut okra
  • 6 cups cornmeal (approximate)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 gallon vegetable or canola oil (approximate)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, and salt and pepper. Mix until blended.
  2. Wash the okra and then slice it thinly. Discard head and tips.
  3. Place sliced okra in a bowl and toss to coat with cornmeal mixture.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet or pan on the stovetop.
  5. Add okra to the heated oil. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until okra is well browned and has reached the desired level of crispiness. It usually takes me about 30-45 minutes to fry up a large batch.
  6. When the okra is ready, remove it with a large slotted spoon to drain grease and place it on paper towels to drain and cool.
Cornmeal mixture

Cornmeal mixture

Slicing okra

Slicing okra

Cooking Notes

  • Prep time: Slicing two to three pounds of okra can be time-consuming. Sometimes it takes me between 15 to 30 minutes. Just be aware of this so you don't underestimate your cooking prep time.
  • Okra texture: Okra is very slimy after you wash it—just something to be aware of—but this helps it to better hold the cornmeal mixture coating.
  • Amount of oil: Make sure you have enough oil in the pan to cover the okra. I usually fill the pan about one-third full with oil.
  • Oil temperature: Do not put the okra into the skillet until the oil is hot. If the okra cooks too long it will not maintain its crispy quality.
  • Caution: Be careful when placing okra in the oil and when taking it out. Do not let the hot oil splash out and burn you.
  • Yield: 6-8 servings

Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this fried okra recipe. The amount of oil and cornmeal will vary with the amount of okra you use. If you find there is not enough cornmeal to coat the okra then just add more. Happy frying!

My daughter learning to slice the okra.

My daughter learning to slice the okra.

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