Don't let that slime intimidate you. 

By Sarra Sedghi
July 16, 2019

We’ve reached some of the year’s hottest days, and that means okra season is in full swing. Fresh, in-season okra is one of the most eye-catching veggies around, but that appearance doesn’t always translate to ease. Those pretty little pods can be intimidating (or just plain annoying) thanks to all that slime that’s packed inside. 

Whether you’re looking to make okra without creating a slimy mess, make a foolproof batch of gumbo, or fry it just like they do at your favorite meat and three, these methods and recipes all take the anxiety out of cooking with okra. 

Fry it

We don’t make the rules—breading and frying fresh veggies makes them delicious. And with okra, nothing accents that squishiness better than frying’s crisp. For a homemade touch, coat your okra sliced with cornmeal instead of bread crumbs. 

Get the recipe: Pan-Fried Okra with Cornmeal

Char it

Jen Causey; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey; Prop Styling Kay Clarke

Charring okra lets it experience the best of both worlds: The crispy texture you know and love from fried okra is muted, while the slime is present but not overwhelming. The key to achieving this lies in how the okra is cut: long and thin. Char your okra in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until the slices are golden brown. 

Get the recipe: Charred Okra-And-Tomato Masala

Pickle it

Photo: Kelsey Hansen; Food Styling: Margaret Dickey and Ivy Odom; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Fresh okra has such a nice crunch, so capitalize on that by pickling it. This recipe packs pickled okra with the perfect balance of tang, sweetness, and heat thanks to its use of Fresno chiles. Don’t fret if you can’t wait 24 hours. Just quick pickle your okra instead. 

Get the recipe: Sweet-Heat Pickled Okra

Air-fry it 

If you’d like to enjoy crispy okra but cut the grease (or just need to use your air fryer), try this lighter method. Feel free to experiment (and up the flavor) with the cornmeal coating here by adding spices and seasonings. 

Get the recipe: Air Fryer Fried Okra

Make gumbo 

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Rather than cast it off as a side dish, make your okra part of the main attraction and whip up some gumbo. Shrimp, rice, sausage, and spices make a perfect environment where okra can contribute without taking over. 

Get the recipe: Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

Pair it with tomatoes 

Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Stewed okra and tomatoes are a classic dish for a reason: Their contrasting flavor profiles and differing textures perfectly complement one another. 

Get the recipe: Okra and Chickpeas in Fresh Tomato Sauce

Roast it

Photo: Hector Sanchez; Styling: Caroline M. Cunningham

Another way to cut down on slime is by roasting the pods whole. Simply season your okra and spread it out on a rimmed baking sheet or jelly roll pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the okra reaches your preferred doneness. 

Get the recipe: Roasted Potato-And-Okra Salad

Grill it

Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Claire Spollen

Want to add some smokiness to your okra? Throw it on the grill, which, as an added bonus, helps cut down on slime. Stick your okra pods on a skewer so they won’t fall through the slats. 

Get the recipe: Prosciutto-Wrapped Grilled Okra

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