Pan Roasted Okra, an easy pan fried okra recipe that's seared in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. No deep frying, no heavy breading — just a simple cornmeal dusted crunchy okra recipe that's healthy and tasty!

A cast iron skillet with okra.

UPDATE: This recipe was originally posted in September 2018 and the text was updated with new information in January 2021.

Are you an ok lover? We are too! However, okra was a vegetable that we loved only when deep fried or cooked into gumbo, and was never something we made at home.

However, that all changed when we realized you can make deliciously crunchy okra without heavy breading or deep frying. In fact, it can be made in a skillet on the stovetop!

👉 Here are three reasons you should be pan searing okra:

  • It's easy. No messy breading or heavy oils, this simple skillet okra has simple ingredients you likely already have on hand.
  • It's tasty. The spiced cornmeal crusting provides a crunchy mouthfeel and a burst of spicy flavor.
  • It's healthy(ish). Forget deep fried okra, this recipe pan fries in a small amount of oil and uses cornmeal to add a crunchy fried texture.

Ready to learn how to make okra on the stovetop? Let’s do it!

A dark plate with green okra on a white table.

🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)

1️⃣ Step One: Soak okra in vinegar and water to reduce slime

The first step is to soak okra in a vinegar and water wash to reduce the slimy mouthfeel that okra has when cooked (see the next section for further information about why okra gets soft when cooking).

To do this, fill a large mixing bowl with water and about 1/2 cup white vinegar. Soak okra for 20-30 minutes.

After the okra has soaked, drain the vinegar water, rinse the okra and pat them dry before cooking.

Assorted okra pods on white marble.
Soak okra in vinegar and water, then pat dry

2️⃣ Step Two: Make the spice cornmeal topping

While the okra is soaking, make the paprika-spiced cornmeal that we will use to coat the okra after it is cooked and provide a crunchy mouthfeel.

To do this, mix together cornmeal, paprika, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper in a small mixing bowl and then set aside until after the okra is cooked.

A bowl of cornmeal with paprkia and a cast iron skillet with okra.
Mix together spiced cornmeal topping

3️⃣ Step Three: Cook the okra

The final step is to cook the okra and add the cornmeal topping.

To do this, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat (we use and love a cast iron skillet for pan fried okra).

When the pan is heated, add the dried okra and sauté for about 12-15 minutes. Using a skillet, gently flip the okra every few minutes to make sure it is browned on all sides.

When the okra is browned and almost done, squeeze lemon juice onto the okra and then sprinkle the reserved spiced cornmeal powder into the pan and toss the okra until it is completely coated in the cornmeal.

Then remove the okra to a plate and eat immediately for best flavor.

Okra with cormeal breading in a cast iron skillet.
Cook okra then toss with cornmeal

👩‍🍳 How to cook okra without the slime

When okra is cooked its seeds create a gelatinous substance, which makes it a great addition to soups and stews because it is a natural thickener (think gumbo).

When it is cooked on its own the slimy mouthfeel is a turnoff for some people. This is why okra is often fried, which make it crispy (but also makes it generally unhealthy).

👉 However, it’s super simple to cook okra without the slime if you follow these steps:

  1. Add water to a large mixing bowl and add about ¼ cup vinegar, mixing to combine
  2. Soak okra in vinegar water for 30 minutes
  3. Remove okra, rinse, and prepare without the slime!

By doing these simple steps you’ll be able to roast okra without the frying oil and unhealthy breading. The okra will still be on the softer side as it is a naturally soft vegetable, but you’ll remove the slimy mouthfeel.

Pan fried okra on a blue plate with a silver fork.

❓ Recipe + ingredient questions

What is okra and where is it from?

Okra is a plant in the mallow family that is revered for its edible green pods. Much debate has happened about the origin of okra, but it is generally thought to have first been cultivated in India and Southeast Asia and was eventually brought to portions of West Africa. From there the small pods were brought to the American South by slave traders and it became a staple of United States’ southern cuisine.

Do you wash okra before frying?

You should wash and completely dry okra before cooking or frying. Washing okra will remove excess dirt and debris and will help to clean the vegetable to make cooking or frying easier. To wash okra, simply run it under water or soak it in a bowl of water and then either pat dry or lay flat to dry before cooking.

How do I make pan fried okra without cornmeal?

Pan fried okra can be made without cornmeal by simply frying the okra in a small amount of oil in a skillet. Typically cornmeal is used to coat the okra to create a crunchy texture, however you can omit the conrmeal and eat the okra without a topping (though it won't be as crunchy, as it is a naturally soft vegetable when cooked).

How do I make okra that isn't slimy?

Okra can taste slimy because the seeds inside the okra pod become gelatinous when heated. To make okra that isn't slimy, choose okra pods that are small and firm as they'll have less mature seeds that will become soft. Then simply soak okra in a vinegar and water mixture in a large bowl for 20-30 minutes before cooking. The vinegar will reduce the amount of get produced by the okra seeds.

Okra on a plate on a white and blue table.

🌱 More pan-fried vegetable dishes

Looking for more simple vegetables cooked in a skillet? We've got you covered:

Yield: 2 servings

Pan Roasted Okra Recipe

A cast iron skillet with okra.

Pan Roasted Okra, an easy pan seared okra recipe that's seared in a cast iron skillet on the stovetop. No deep frying, no heavy breading — just a simple cornmeal dusted crunchy okra recipe that's healthy and tasty!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • ⅛ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 pound (450g) fresh okra, stemmed

Instructions

  1. Prepare okra: Fill a large mixing bowl with water and about 1/2 cup white vinegar. Soak okra for 20-30 minutes. After the okra has soaked, drain the vinegar water, rinse the okra and pat them dry before cooking.
  2. Make cornmeal topping: Mix together cornmeal, paprika, garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper in a small mixing bowl and then set aside until after the okra is cooked.
  3. Cook okra in a pan: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the pan is heated, add the dried okra and sauté for about 12-15 minutes. Using a skillet, gently flip the okra every few minutes to make sure it is browned on all sides.
  4. Add cornmeal: When the okra is browned and almost done, squeeze lemon juice onto the okra and then sprinkle the reserved spiced cornmeal powder into the pan and toss the okra until it is completely coated in the cornmeal.

Notes

  • Recipe notes: Cooking okra on medium heat for longer will allow it to brown but will also prevent the slimy mouthfeel that often comes with the vegetable. If you prefer to serve with a dipping sauce, try a vegan aioli or other vegan dipping sauce.
  • Leftovers & Storage: For best results, eat the okra immediately after cooking. Because okra gets soft and mushy easily, it will soften during refrigeration and reheating. Do not freeze as okra does not thaw well.
  • Nutrition notes: This simple vegan pan roasted okra recipe is a light and fresh side dish is low in fat, low in sodium, and high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

2

Serving Size:

1 serving (1 cup)

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 73Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 537mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 2g