Nana’s Fried Okra Recipe

I really feel quite silly authoring a post on “Fried Okra.”  Southern cooks learn how to make this dish usually the same way that their Mamas made it. Goodness gracious, there are a lot of ways and opinions on cooking this famous vegetable!

My Mama was a great cook, she denied it to all, but that is the way we are here in the South. If someone compliments your cooking, the next sentence from you is, “It is not fit to eat!”  I prefer the easy way of cooking okra: I boil it until it is tender, put a pat of butter on it and salt and pepper.  I think it is nectar of the Gods.

But I am posting on “Fried Okra,” so here goes:

Nana’s Fried Okra


  1. Okra – the amount depends on how many folks you are going to feed, or how much you are craving fried okra. For 4-6 people, I would suggest 1 ½ lbs of fresh okra
  2. Oil – whatever your have, it doesn’t have to be fancy stuff; about 3 T. in a skillet
  3. ½ – ¾ cup self-rising corn meal – I use White Lilly, the brand most Southerners were raised on.
  4. Salt & Pepper


  1. In a colander, rinse the fresh okra thoroughly.
  2. Slice off the top (it is a little cap) and the pointy end of each piece of okra.
  3. Then slice away, make your slices as fat or skinny as you prefer.
  4. Put the cornmeal in a plastic bag, throw in a couple of handfuls of okra and shake to coat the okra.
  5. The oil should be heated, throw in one piece of okra to see if it starts to cook if you can’t figure out how hot the oil has gotten.
  6. Sift the coated okra between your fingers to knock off the excess cornmeal and carefully ease (don’t drop it in the hot oil, you will burn yourself) it into the skillet.
  7. The time-consuming part of the cooking is that you need to turn each piece of okra over individually to make sure it has browned evenly. Cook on stove top on medium-high heat for approximately 5-8 minutes. An iron skillet is best but use what you have.
  8. Drain on a plate with a paper towel to catch excess oil.
  9. Salt and pepper.

Prep time: less than 10 minutes

Cook time: 5-8 minutes

★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Copyright 2012 © Hodgepodge
Recipe by Nana.

And there you go…such a good, economical and really Southern way to serve up one of our finest vegetables!  It’ll make you want to slap somebody, it is so good!

Fast Food for Slow Sundays note: I made this on a Saturday afternoon, refrigerated it. After church Sunday, I heated it up in a 350 degree oven for approximately 10 minutes. It was crispy and delicious.

For more Sunday lunch ideas – that can be enjoyed any day of the week, see the other recipes posted here in the Fast Food for Slow Sundays category or Fast Food for Slow Sundays at Habits for a Happy Home.

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  1. 1

    Maggie Hogan says

    My mama is from GA and my dad, TN. Probably the only thing mama did NOT fry was okra. So sad! I love fried okra! But she also used it in succotash – sorry but gag me with a spoon! Ick. Anyway, I had NO IDEA you could reheat it it to still be crispy. That is life changing! Love this post – and you :-). Maggie

  2. 2


    Most people I know in California think okra is a slimy mess of a vegetable but that is because they don’t know how to prepare it. Although I have never had it just boiled and with butter, I have had it fried up similar to what you do. My mom is from Texas and she cooks a lot of “southern” dishes so I did grow up with her famous corn, okra, and tomatoes as a side dish.
    My dad grows okra in his garden because it isn’t really a popular vegetable and I don’t think I have even seen it at our local farmers market (probably because of the general prejudice against its sliminess.). I have used frozen okra and successfully fried it up and it hardly ever gets to the dinner table because my children eat it as fast as I can prepare it. :)
    I will have to try your recipe when I can locate some fresh okra this summer.

  3. 4


    I am so glad you posted this. My mother used to make fried okra when I was young, but I never learned how to make it because I did not like it then. Now, I do, but I didn’t know how to make it. I hope they have White Lilly in TN. I have never seen it here in the North, but I hear so much about it in Southern cooking recipes.

  4. 5


    Okay, so I made fried okra last night but I wanted to come back and comment on something that my hubby and I chuckled over in your recipe.
    Self-rising white cornmeal? It must be a southern product because I have never seen anything like that at the store. We have two things on the shelf at the grocery….yellow cornmeal and masa (which is a corn flour that you make Mexican dishes with).
    So put grits and self-rising white cornmeal on the shopping list when I come a calling.
    Oh, the okra was pretty good even though I had to use frozen. I dipped it in buttermilk and then dredged it with a cornmeal/flour coating, salted and peppered it to taste. (The younger crowd dipped it in ranch dressing before it hit the table.)
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. 6


    Yep, you make it exactly how I do which is the way my mom taught me and her mom taught her. White Lily? Nah. we’re Martha White fans here in West TN.

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