Fried Okra with a Kick

They're crispy, spicy, and excellent for snacking

May 21, 2014

When frying okra pods whole, I usually soak them in buttermilk (about 1½ cups to 1 cup seasoned cornmeal) to give their coating a fighting chance of hanging on. For quick-frying sliced okra, the natural sticking power of the okra will help keep the meal on board, especially if you’ve let them sit out for about an hour. This crispy, spicy version shared by Joy Kirksey makes for excellent snacks and delightful salad croutons.

  • 2 pounds fresh okra (about 4 cups sliced)
  • 2 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal or corn flour (may substitute 1 cup cornmeal and 1 cup all-purpose flour)
  • ½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (plus more to taste, optional)
  • 5 cups peanut oil

Rinse the whole okra pods under cold water, drain, pat dry, trim tops, and cut into ¼-inch pieces on the bias. Set aside, salt lightly, and let stand at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. The salt will bring out the “goo” in the okra, allowing the cornmeal to adhere even better—making the crust just a bit crispier.


Place the cornmeal, ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and cayenne into a resealable zip-top plastic bag. Add the okra and shake to coat thoroughly. Return the okra to a dry colander and shake off excess cornmeal.

Add enough peanut oil to a 12-inch stainless steel sauté pan to completely cover the bottom of the pan about ⅓ inch deep. Place over medium-high heat and bring the oil to 375°F. Add the okra and fry until golden brown, turning once and replenishing oil as needed, approximately 5 minutes.


Remove the okra from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula to paper towels to drain. Season with more salt, if desired, and allow to cool for 1 to 2 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

Photography by Robert M. Peacock
Originally published in Organic Gardening magazine, June/July 2014