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Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it!

Okra is as southern as it gets and here in Louisiana, we like to put okra in our soups/gumbo, pickle it in jars, stew it with tomatoes, or fry it crispy! For me, crispy, cornmeal-fried okra is my favorite way to have this green vegetable. I will show you how to make the BEST Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it! So that you can have a true “Southern spread” on the table in no time!

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When I was growing up, we always had okra growing in the garden. There were also plenty of other vegetables that we grew that made their way to my plate happily but none of them quite compared to crispy, fried okra. This fried vegetable was hands down my favorite as a kid and still remains that way today!

We prepared it simply in our house. Our Southern fried okra recipe was just a little bit of yellow cornmeal for the perfect crunch and a watchful eye while it was in the fryer. Absolutely no flour or breading mixture here! I would actually be quite disappointed when I would order fried okra in restaurants and every single time, I would be served a pile of deep-fried flour nuggets!

Let’s learn a little something about the history of OKRA!

That’s what they looked like to me. There was so much breading on the okra pieces that I couldn’t even distinguish what vegetable it was. The breading with flour is thick and heavy and, in my opinion, lacks any real flavor. For this reason, I stick with a simple dusting of that yellow cornmeal and when it’s taken out of the fryer a good pinch of salt. That’s all it really takes for the best crispy, cornmeal fried okra this side of the Mississippi!

Do you prefer cornmeal battered okra or flour?

Tell me in the comments below which type of crust or batter you prefer on your okra and why.

A close-up photo of Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it!

Let me tell you why I prefer cornmeal only.

  • In my humble opinion, cornmeal offers the best texture when it comes to fried okra. (And fried fish, but that’s a different conversation for a different day.) The best breading on fried items is a breading that is used to enhance the flavor and texture of the ingredients, not hide them.
  • Frying okra with cornmeal also prevents that slimy texture that so many people don’t enjoy. Breaded okra can tend to keep that sliminess on the inside and once you bite into it, you are hit with that rather unpleasant texture.
  • Cornmeal gives a crispy coating without being too heavy. Okra itself is already small and delicate and doesn’t need to be smothered by a thick, gluey coating that weighs it down.

How to grow okra in your garden!

Planting:

This needs to happen after the last frost in the Spring. Here in Louisiana that usually happens around Easter. Easter, one of my favorite holidays, lands at the end of March or the beginning to middle of April.

A person planting okra seed into the dirt.

You put 3 to 4 seeds in a hill (a hole), cover the seeds up with about 1/2 inch of dirt, and separate them by 1 foot per hill (hole.) If you are planting the seeds when the dirt is dry, pour a little water inside the hole and let it soak into the dirt before you put the seed in. If the soil is already moist, there is no need to add water to the hole when planting.

Growing:

They will start growing within a week of planting if you have the correct moisture. They will continue to grow and produce okra until frost. This happens for us in November.

A mature okra plant with okra growing on it.

Harvesting:

You want to pick the okra when they are about 3 – 4 inches long. The okra should produce enough to be picked every day or every other day. Try to notlet the okra get too large because it will be hard, not as delicious, and it will hinder the production of the plant.

A close up picture of okra growing on a plant.

Useful Information:

Okra is a very simple vegetable to grow. It’s not high maintenance and doesn’t require a lot of time or attention. If the soil happens to get really dry, you may want to water it once a week.

Be Sure To Pin It For Later!

Tips for Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it!:

  • Place the fried okra on a paper towel-lined wood cutting board instead of a plate. There will be fewer dishes and the wood absorbs the oil.

Make Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra with me on YouTube!

Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of thinly sliced pieces of okra.
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (yellow is best!)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • salt to taste

Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it! Instructions:

  • First, slice the okra very thinly.
A thinly sliced piece of okra to make Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it!
  • Second, put the sliced okra in a strainer and run water over it to get the individual slices wet.
A strainer with okra in it.
  • Third, place 1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal in a large bowl and put the damp okra in the cornmeal.
A picture showing the raw okra in a strainer to make Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it!
  • Next, shake the okra in the cornmeal so that the individual slices of okra don’t stick together in the cornmeal mixture.
Cornmeal dusted raw okra in a bowl.
  • Then, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat.
  • Sift the thin slices of okra with your fingers before dropping them into the hot oil in small batches.
Cornmeal-Crusted okra frying in a skillet of oil.
  • Take the fried okra out of the hot oil with a slotted spoon when it turns golden brown and drain the excess oil on a paper towel-lined plate or cutting board.
Okra frying and turning brown in a skillet with oil.
  • Finally, lightly sprinkle with salt and enjoy!
Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it! The fried okra is sitting on a paper towel.

What can I serve with my Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra?

  • Use it as a crunchy side with some of your Southern favorites like:
    • Red beans & rice – A true staple of Southern cooking, this main dish has spicy sausage, and seasoned beans that are tender and cooked down in a Cajun sauce that is perfectly served over rice!
    • Chicken & dumplings – Tender boiled chicken is cooked in a creamy gravy with homemade dumplings. This is one of my FAVORITE Southern dishes of all time. Crispy okra served beside these fluffy dumplings would be a great side dish for contrasting textures.
    • Black-eyed peas & cornbread – When you have fresh vegetables and a pan of cornbread you don’t even need meat to make a meal! This used to be our dinner growing up. Delicious peas or collard greens from the garden cooked down in spicy seasonings and poured over fresh cornbread with all of the juices. Top it generously with crispy, fried okra for the absolute best bite!
    • Cajun cornbread – This is a family favorite of ours to make. (Recipe coming soon) Cornbread is layered with whole kernel corn, cheese, seasoned ground beef, and jalapeno peppers for a SUPER FLAVORFUL MEAL! A pan of beans on the side and some fried okra complete this Southern Spread.
  • Use Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra as a topping for creamy soups and gumbos for additional flavor and texture.
  • Eat it alongside a sandwich instead of chips! (Hawaiian Roll Ham/Provolone Sliders)

Storage for Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra:

  • Leftover fried okra can be stored in an airtight container or a Ziploc bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Place into an air fryer or on a baking sheet in the oven to reheat okra so that it becomes crispy once again.

Can I freeze Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra?

You most certainly can! I put my okra in the freezer three different ways:

  • The first way I put okra in the freezer is to take fresh okra, slice it very thinly, and put it into freezer bags. This okra can be used for soups, frying, or stewing.
  • The second way I put okra in the freezer is to take fresh okra, slice it very thinly, dust it with cornmeal, and then put it into freezer bags. This okra will be used just for frying. Maybe on this particular occasion, I didn’t have time to put the okra into the fryer but I wanted it to be prepped and ready to go for a weeknight meal.
  • The third way I like to put okra in the freezer is actually fried! Once I have sliced my fresh okra very thinly, dusted it with cornmeal, and fried it to perfection, I let it cool and then put it into freezer bags. This is an excellent thing to do when you have fried too much okra and you don’t want it to go to waste, or when you know that you are going to have a busy week and you would like to get all of the fryings out of the way ahead of time and take the okra out when you want to use it. Warming the okra back up so that it’s crispy (as if you just fried it), can be done in two different ways. You can either place it on a sheet pan in the oven at 400 degrees and warm it up until its crunch has returned or you can just pop it into your air fryer at 370 degrees until it’s just right!

What are the Macros for Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra?

Makes 4 servings (Nutritional information below is for 1 serving = 1/2 cup)

  • Calories – 70.75
  • Protein – 2.2 grams
  • Carbs – 12.6 grams (net)
  • Fat – .6 grams

Check out some of my other Southern Favorites!

Cajun-French Roast Chicken

Better Than Cracker Barrel Meatloaf

Deer Steak Wrapped in Bacon

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Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra on a paper towel.

Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra

Jessie Thompson
Okra is as southern as it gets and here in Louisiana, we like to put okra in our soups/gumbo, pickle it in jars, stew it with tomatoes, or fry it crispy! For me, crispy, cornmeal-fried okra is my favorite way to have this green vegetable. I will show you how to make the BEST Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra and what to serve with it so that you can have a true "Southern spread" on the table in no time!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Louisiana
Servings 4 servings
Calories 70.75 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 pot or pan for frying

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups of thinly sliced pieces of okra.
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal yellow is best!
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • First, slice the okra very thinly.
  • Second, put the sliced okra in a strainer and run a little bit of water over it to get the individual slices wet.
  • Third, place 1/2 cup of yellow cornmeal in a large bowl and put in the damp okra.
  • Next, shake the okra in the cornmeal making sure that the individual slices of the okra don’t stick together in the cornmeal mixture.
  • Then, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees over medium-high heat.
  • Sift the thin slices of okra in your fingers before dropping them into the hot oil in small batches.
  • Take the fried okra out of the hot oil with a slotted spoon when it begins to turn golden brown and drain the excess oil on a paper towel-lined plate or cutting board.
  • Finally, lightly sprinkle with salt and enjoy!

Video

Notes

What are the Macros for Cornmeal-Crusted Fried Okra?
Makes 4 servings (Nutritional information below is for 1 serving = 1/2 cup)
Calories – 70.75
Protein – 2.2 grams
Carbs – 12.6 grams (net)
Fat – .6 grams
Keyword cornmeal, crispy, crunchy, fried, okra, vegetable

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