If you’ve always wondered how to cook okra, but haven’t yet tried, you’ll love learning about it below. Okra is one of the most underrated vegetables around. It’s also one of my all-time favorites, although admittedly, I don’t cook it very often, making it a couple of times a year.
How to Cook Okra Super Easily
Okra is believed to have originated in Africa or Southeast Asia, it did not come to the United States until the early 18th century. This healthy vegetable is a staple in the American South where it is often fried, grilled, and pickled. Okra is also commonly used in the cuisines of Africa, the Middle East, and India. I learned all about okra back in the early 1990’s when I took my multi-year Ayurvedic training.
There are 3 types of okra -green, red, and purple. Truth be told, I have only cooked green okra. Please leave a comment if you’ve cooked with other colors of okra as I’d love to hear all about it!
When to Buy Okra
Okra is in season from mid to late summer in the United States, approximately July to September. Okra grows best in the hot, humid climates described above.
How to Buy Fresh Okra
When you buy okra you’ll want to choose smooth, unblemished pods. It’s very important to select okra that does not have brown spots or shriveled dried ends. One trick we learned in our Ayurvedic training was that if the tips are not healthy and robust looking the okra will be tough, fibrous, and impossible to chew. If you get home and you can’t snap the end off of a pod you won’t want to stir-fry it. I toss those in the compost bin to cut my losses. I recently purchased frozen organic okra at our local health food store and it worked in this recipe too!
How to Cook Raw Okra
My favorite way to cook raw okra is in a stir-fry with onions. If you can eat nightshades, okra is also fantastic with tomatoes, a natural pairing since okra and tomatoes are part of the same late summer crop.
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How to Cook Okra
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pound okra, ends and tops trimmed, then chopped into 1 inch pieces
- ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
- In a large cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat
- Carmelize onion, sautéing 10-15 minutes until golden brown
- Add okra, water, and salt
- Cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until water has evaporated and okra is tender
Is Okra Slimy?
Some people think that okra is slimy. And this definitely bothers those people. I love both the flavor and texture of okra and while I wouldn’t call it slimy, I would say that it does have a unique texture. Nevertheless, I love okra!
Is Okra Low-Carb?
Okra is a low-carb vegetable, containing around 5 grams of carbohydrates in a cup. If you are on a low-carb diet, check out my Keto Diet Recipes page, all of those recipes are sugar-free.
Have you ever cooked okra? What’s your favorite way to prepare okra? Leave a comment and let me know!
Jennifer Landis says
By mistake of the local farm and garden center… Sold me red okra seeds. To my surprise when the pods were forming they were red and not green! In my opinion they give you more okra for the money. They grow longer and still tender pods where the green is at its best very small. I will say if you boil it like in a soup it turns green! So my bag of okra seeds was a true find. Same taste. The local farm and garden center didn’t order any red seeds and came by mistake. I say it wasn’t ❤️
Jennifer, I’m guessing not only more okra for the money but more nutrients in the form of those colorful polyphenols. Love hearing about your new discovery and thanks so much for sharing it here :-)
My favorite way to eat okra is to steam it whole for two or three minutes, don’t let it get soft, it should be crunchy when you bite into it. Just trim the stems.
Odilia, that sound amazing!
Veronika Singh says
Muge Cole says
Okra also can be cooked on a stew base. (Onion, tomato base and salt; cooked chickpeas add an incredible taste to it also.) Small sizes should be used and the heads should be skinned into the cone shapes without cutting in to the Okra; this should prevent the slimy texture coming out. This is a Turkish recipe for okra. lemon juice added on top as it is served. Some add cut pieces of lemon while cooking but it should be peeled so the bitter taste of the lemon skin does not blend in the stew.
Muge, thanks for your comment and for sharing your knowledge here! This sounds absolutely amazing :-)
Robbie Gardiner says
The “slime” in Okra is what gives it that delicious, unique flavor!
My southern family would throw a whole pod into a pot of peas or beans
as they cooked and the okra imparted a wonderful flavor. I live in the north
now and have found some great frozen okra. Hard to find fresh okra
in PA markets.
Robbie, thank you so much! I’m so glad someone said this, the slime is my favorite thing about okra :-)
alan tyndell says
I found that soaking Okra in a pan of water and vinegar for an hour reduces the slim
Okra originated in Africa. It was brought to the United States by enslaved Africans.
Sunci Prats says
Thank you! It has been a very enlightning experience to read your article. I have only cooked green Okra. I have never seen red or purple. I don’t even know if these two varieties are planted here in Cuba. I’ll try to find out. Best regards!
Sunci, thanks for joining the okra conversation from Cuba!
Ella J Miller says
Can you save the top part of the okra and cook down ,maybe blender it. Is it edible? The part you cut off when cutting up.is this doable?
Ella, thanks for your question, the stem is pretty tough so not sure that would be so great.
Sweety Curtis says
No, the cap of the okra shd never be eaten, it’s not only tough it’s also very fibrous. My grandmother wld always instruct the family cook in our home to top n tail the okra.
To tell if the okra is young n tender…. perfect for cooking, one should snap the tail end with the thumb n if it has a nice crisp snap you know its the perfect one. Hope this helps.
Thanks so much Sweety.
Laura Hardin says
Great way to fix okra is to wash, trim ends, and split lengthwise. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle with your favorite spicy seasoning followed by a drizzle of avocado oil. Roast for around 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. While this cooks, take Greek plain yogurt and add spicy seasoning to taste. Use this as a dip for your okra.
Laura, yes to this!!!