Crispy Southern Fried Okra Recipe

Fresh Okra soaked in buttermilk, dredged in a cornmeal batter and fried till golden brown. Crispy Southern Fried Okra is a summertime treat and is served as an appetizer or side dish for many meals in the South. It’s crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. Delicious!

Southern fried okra in a serving bowl with text overlay.

What is Okra?

Okra is a fuzzy green vegetable grown in the summer with edible green seed pods and can be quite delicious when cooked just right. It can be itchy when touching it on the plant, and I always find it helpful to wear gloves when cutting off the stalk. When boiled, okra tends to develop a slight sliminess, making it a popular choice as a thickener in soups and stews. However, a preferred method is frying. When okra is fried to a golden brown, it goes through a process, and it loses all its slimy texture and offers a satisfying crunch.

Using Okra from the Freezer

I put as much fresh okra into my freezer during the summer months as possible. We have a garden every year, and we always plant more than enough okra to eat and then some for the freezer. When fresh Okra isn’t available during winter, I always have a stash in my freezer.

Freezing Okra is very easy to do. Check out my post on How to Freeze Okra for some simple tips. You will always have an excellent supply waiting for you in the freezer. If using frozen okra, you can just toss it into the dishes you are cooking. If frying okra, thaw first by placing the okra into a bowl and covering it with warm water until the okra has thawed. Then, continue with the recipe.

 Where To Find Okra

Don’t have a garden or okra in the freezer, no worries.  Just visit your local grocery store and pick up a bag in the freezer section. There are some really good brands of frozen Okra that taste almost like they’ve been freshly picked from the garden.
You may also visit your local farmer’s market during the summer and grab some fresh okra. Fresh Okra is amazing and easy to find during the hot summer months in my area. Grab extra and put some in your freezer.

Crispy Fried Okra

The trick to having Crispy fried Okra is the buttermilk and breading. The buttermilk gives it a nice thick coating before dunking it into the cornmeal and flour mix. The oil temperature plays an important role in crispy okra. Make sure the oil is hot and at the correct temperature before dropping the okra to fry.

Southern Fried Okra in a serving bowl with text overlay.

Why This Recipe Is Fabulous

Making this crispy fried okra recipe promises a delightful experience with its southern charm, ease of preparation, and a burst of flavor and texture. You’ll have a straightforward and stress-free cooking experience. This makes a perfect side dish and is my favorite way to enjoy a southern staple.

Ease of Preparation: This recipe is designed with simplicity in mind, making it an easy recipe for cooks of all levels.

Crunchy Texture: Achieve a satisfying crunch as this okra is fried to a golden brown. 

Versatile Serving: Whether served as a side dish, appetizer, or snack, this crispy breaded okra complements a wide range of main courses.

Crowd-Pleasing Recipe: This recipe appeals to various tastes and will elevate any meal.

How To Choose Okra For Frying

Selecting the right okra is crucial for achieving the right results when frying. Here are a few tips for choosing okra: Choose smaller okra over larger okra pods. The large okra tends to be tough and not suitable for eating. Also, look for okra with a vibrant dark green color and avoid okra with dark or black spots. Okra is generally in season from summer to late fall, and you will likely find fresh okra then at grocery stores or farmers’ markets. Frozen okra also works great for this recipe. You can find frozen okra at your local grocery store. The quality of okra influences the final okra.

Ingredients Needed for Crispy Fried Okra

You can create a delicious side dish of southern fried okra with these selected ingredients. This is a flavorful dish and only requires a few simple pantry staples and frozen or fresh okra pods.

Ingredients shown for making fried okra. Text overlay.

Okra – This is the star of the show. Okra is sliced into rounds, dipped in buttermilk, and then fried to a golden brown. Some may call this Southern popcorn because it can easily be popped into your mouth.

Oil – A neutral oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or even peanut oil, would be a good choice for frying okra.

Buttermilk – Buttermilk is used to adhere the batter to each slice. It is thick, has a tangy flavor, and helps the batter stick nicely.

Flour – Flour is part of the breading for fried okra and helps to provide a smooth exterior. I have used self-rising and all-purpose flour, and they both work for this recipe. 

Cornmeal – Corn meal is part of the breading process. The cornmeal mixture provides a crispy coating when deep frying. White or yellow cornmeal is fine.

Salt & Pepper – Salt and black pepper are the seasoning used in this recipe. Feel free to add a few of your favorites, such as onion powder and garlic powder.

Cayenne Pepper – Cayenne pepper is an optional ingredient but adds a bit of kick to the fried okra.

How to Cook Fried Okra

First– Prepare Okra by washing and slicing it into rounds. If you are using store-bought frozen okra, you can skip this step.  I usually slice my okra into 1/2-inch pieces.
Next– Soak the okra in buttermilk. This can be a quick dip or soak for several minutes. Make sure all the pieces get a nice bath in the buttermilk.
Then– -Toss the sliced okra in the cornmeal mix. I find it easier to place the breading mixture in a zip-top bag and shake gently until coated. Toss well, making sure each piece is coated well.
Finally– Carefully drop each piece into the hot oil and let fry until golden brown. Cook in small batches, and do not overcrowd the pan. You can use a deep fryer or deep cast-iron skillet. Remove the okra with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Cool slightly and enjoy.

How to Store and Reheat Fried Okra

Allow okra to cool to room temperature and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The best way to reheat fried okra for the best results is in the oven. Allow the okra to cool slightly to crisp up again. I do not recommend reheating in the microwave. This will cause the okra to become soggy.

What to Serve with Fried Okra

Southern Fried Okra pairs well with a variety of side dishes and compliments the main dish.  I like to eat it as a snack/appetizer but mainly as a side dish. Here are a few of my favorite dishes to serve with okra.

Chicken, Fried Pork Chops, Barbecue, Grilled Meats, Fish. Feel free to mix and match these suggestions to suit your taste preferences and to create a southern-inspired meal for your family or guests. 

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tenders are chicken strips grilled and then dipped in a sweet and spicy homemade buffalo wing sauce. A side serving of Crispy Southern Fried okra is quite delicious with these tenders.
I have served a big platter of Crispy Fried Okra with a Slow Cooked Pulled Pork Sandwich many times. I have never had any complaints.
Pan Cooked Sticky Chicken is awesome and served with a side of okra.
Creamy Pork Chops or Classic Meatloaf are two main dishes that would welcome okra as a side.
The choices are endless, and I like Crispy okra with just about any main dish, including pasta.

Fried okra in a serving bowl with white salt and pepper shakers in the background with text overlay.

Dipping Sauce for Fried Okra

Feel free to explore and find the perfect dipping sauce and balance to suit your preference. Find one to enhance your overall enjoyment of your Crispy Fried Okra.

Ranch Dressing – Ranch dressing is a cool and creamy accompaniment to each bite.

Remoulade Sauce – Provides a bold and tangy flavor to each bite of fried okra.

Honey Mustard – The sweet and tangy honey mustard contrasts nicely with the okra.

Hot Sauce Mayo – Mix your favorite hot sauce with mayo for a creamy dipping sauce.

Tips for Perfect Crispy Southern Fried Okra

  • Soak Okra in buttermilk for a few minutes before breading.
  • If using frozen okra, thaw it first before adding it to the buttermilk.
  • Coat each piece of okra well with the buttermilk and breading.
  • Feel free to add a little heat by adding some cayenne pepper to the cornmeal mix.
  • Make sure oil is hot before dropping okra into the fryer.
  • Brown for 3-4 minutes or until all pieces are golden brown.
  • Stir slightly while frying to make sure the pieces are cooking evenly and not sticking together.
  • Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Dip in Ranch Dressing if so desired.
  • Let sit for a few minutes before popping into your mouth. Take it from me–It’s HOT!
Okra shown soaking in a bowl of buttermilk and then cooked with a text overlay.
Crispy Southern Fried Okra

Recipe Variations

Experiment with these variations to create a batch of okra to suit your preferences. Whether you prefer the classic recipe or want to change it, I’m sure the outcome will be delicious. 

  • Add some extra spice to the recipe. Use more cayenne for a kick of heat.
  • Add some grated parmesan and herbs to the breading mixture. 
  • Add some garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika to the breading mixture before coating the okra.

Recipe FAQs

How Do I Make My Okra Less Greasy?

Drain the fried okra on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Additionally, make sure the oil is at the right temperature to avoid excess oil absorption.

Can I Fry Okra Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can fry the okra and reheat it before serving. Although fried okra is best served immediately, it can be cooked and reheated.

Crispy Southern Fried Okra in a bowl with text overlay.
Crispy Southern Fried Okra

How To Freeze Other Foods From The Garden

How To Freeze Strawberries

How To Freeze Onions

How to Freeze Okra

How To Freeze Peaches

More Southern Fried Dishes

Southern Fried Green Beans

Southern Fried Yellow Squash

Fried Green Tomatoes

Other Traditional Southern Side Dishes

Fried Potatoes and Onions
Cabbage and Onions
Southern BBQ Baked Beans
Southern Cornbread Salad

Crispy Southern Fried Okra

Crispy Southern Fried Okra

Gina Abernathy
Crispy Southern Fried Okra is served as a side dish or appetizer in the south. It's crispy, crunchy and fried till golden brown. Delicious!
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings


  • 1 pound okra sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
  • oil for frying


  • Wash okra and cut off ends. Slice into 1/2 inch rounds.
  • In a small bowl, add buttermilk and okra. Allow to soak for a few minutes.
  • In a shallow dish, mix together flour, cornmeal, and seasonings.
  • In a deep fryer, preheat oil. (see notes below)
  • Working in batches, drain okra and transfer to the cornmeal mix, coating well.
  • Place okra in the hot oil and fry until golden brown. This usually takes 3-4 minutes per batch. Do not overcrowd your fryer. **Tip–You will know your oil is ready when you drop a piece of okra into the oil. If it sizzles, it's ready.
  • Once okra is golden brown, remove it from the fryer to a paper towel-lined plate. Add more salt if desired. Let cool for a few minutes before eating.


You will know your oil is ready when you drop a piece of okra into the oil. If it sizzles, it’s ready.
Keyword Crispy Southern Fried Okra, fried okra, okra
Crispy Southern Fried Okra shown with text overlay.
Crispy Southern Fried Okra


  1. 5 stars
    Yum yum yum! This fried okra is delicious. For me, okras taste better fried than cooked. Because you’re right, okras are slimy when they’re cooked.
    I also love okra pickles; it’s so good!
    It’s hard to find fresh okras here in Arizona; I’m going to have to use frozen okras like you guys do too. Thanks for the tips!

  2. 5 stars
    Loved this recipe! Okra has been so underrated for years, but that’s probably because people don’t know how to cook it well. Your recipe was superb! The coating turned out extra crispy and the okra was super nice and tender inside!

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