Oven Roasted Okra Fries

Like every good southerner, I grew up in a household where fried okra was a staple of the summertime dinner table. My mother absolutely loves fried okra. I, however, cannot stand it. Granted, I haven’t even tried to eat it since…um, since I was a little kid, but I remember how awful it was. Slimy. And then that cornmeal crust? Pass. Thankfully, fried okra was among the foods my mother prepared that she happily let me skip because it’s not terribly healthy. And that left more for her.

However, in the last year, I’ve grown some as an epicure and okrafficianado. Thanks to The Wild Hare, I discovered that I like pickled okra. Thanks to Smoke Et Al, I discovered that I like fried pickled okra. But I’m still not ready to try those little stumps of fried okra that I remember from childhood. I just know I won’t like them.

A little green okra, a little purple okra. They taste the same when roasted.

However, I have discovered another way to enjoy okra and it’s an easy and healthy one at that: roasted okra. Or, what I like to call them: oven roasted okra fries. Why? Well, they’re:

  1. Roasted
  2. In the oven
  3. They are made of okra
  4. They give me the feeling that I’m eating oven fries

Now, I’ve seen a lot of recipes for okra fries. Most call for breading of some sort. Some frying, even. But these require neither. You just wash and dry some fresh okra, cut it in half, arrange it seed-side up on a tray or cookie sheet (I use my toaster oven) and bake at 400F until they brown to your liking. I finish mine off with some smoked sea salt. They are a perfect savory snack. Healthy, low-calorie, and a helluva lot more satisfying and better-tasting than kale chips.

A roasted okra “fry.” Not as yummy as a potato, but better for you and actually pretty tasty, particularly when topped with a good salt.

Why does this work? I think we all know the worst thing about okra is the slime. When you cut the okra in half and cook it seed side up, the slime bakes off. The longer you cook it, the drier and crisper it is. If you stop at the point that they’re just turning brown, the texture will be close to a traditional oven fry; that is, a little crispy on the ends, but kinda chewy. This is how I like them. Very satisfying to eat. But cook a little longer and you can get a crisper fry.

A couple of things to note, though. The okra will lose a lot of moisture in this process and the pieces will cook down to about 2/3 the size. Maybe even half the size. So plan accordingly. Also, you can grease your pan or lightly coat the okra if you still want to get the roasted taste, but want it to retain some of its slime. I mean, “moisture.” But why would you do that? You’re just adding unnecessary fat and calories. Just try it out dry. It’s pretty good. And this is coming from a dedicated fry lover and okra hater.

Oven-Roasted Okra Fries
serves 2-4

20-30 pods (no longer than 4 inches long), sliced in half, lengthwise
salt to taste

Place the cut okra pods seed side up on a cookie sheet or oven-safe tray. Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes or until browned and crisped. Add salt to taste and serve warm.

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17 Responses to Oven Roasted Okra Fries

  1. Lacey says:

    I love roasting okra. Admittedly, I like okra in all forms: fried, pickled, roasted, in gumbo. MMMM. Have you seen what Bianca does over at vegan crunk? I love the idea of roasting with hot sauce. Or just dipping roasted okra in hot sauce. Man, I need some. Did you get it at the farmer’s market?

    • Lesley says:

      I did! Mr. Eats also brought some home that one of his customers grew. Love having the combo of purple and green okra. Though I can’t tell a difference in the taste.

  2. i’m intrigued by this recipe. i actually like fried okra if it’s done right. admittedly, when it’s done wrong it can be gnarly. i’ll have to give this a try + see what I think!

    • Lesley says:

      If you have a toaster oven, it’s so easy just to slice and roast a few to see what you think. Takes less time than in the big oven. And do NOT undercook them. Overcooked is actually better to me. Undercooked = slime. Yuck.

  3. amanda says:

    hrm. i hate – like, truly hate – okra. all ways. it’s probably the only fried thing i won’t eat. i’m giving you the Honest Toddler side eyes right now. but if you tell me it’s not slimy, i’ll give it a try. if i can get my kids to eat it, i’ll give you a kiss and all the chocolate.

  4. Christy Shulman says:

    I LOVE okra, even boiled and deliciously slimy. Yum.

    When I was a kid, my Mawmaw called it “okrey” and so I was very confused when I finally saw the spelling of okra. I’ll admit that, in my head, I still call it okrey.

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. Wonder if my stinky kids will give it a try?

  5. Crystal says:

    I like okra. I love fried okra. I will tolerate boiled okra, but object when it’s hidden in green beans with new potatoes (country style). I would eat my weight in roasted okra. All of the taste and texture, none of the slime. Go as dry or as moist as you personally like. Next time I’m definitely adding hot sauce before roasting. yum.

  6. This is perfect! I’ve got a bowl full of fresh okra from the farmers’ market sitting on my counter, and I was pining for a new way to prepare it. I love okra, in all its slimy glory, in all forms. Can’t wait to try this!

  7. Mr Eats says:

    This was a great idea for our family. I personally enjoy fried okra, but it’s not all Taft healthy. Lesleyeats makes this a lot now which is alright by me. I told her we should also do a roasted okra in some cooked tomatoes a la succotash style, but she won’t have any of that.

  8. Sarah says:

    Looks very interesting. I am always on the lookout for new easy ways to use the veggies that are common in grocery stores! Thanks.

  9. I’ve roasted okra, but never sliced, and never without a drizzle of oil. Intriguing!

  10. Holly berry says:

    Tried this last night and they are truly slime-free! I’ve roasted them whole before and was unimpresed. I sprayed a mist of olive oil and sprinkled a healthy layer of pink himalayan sea salt. Even my two-year-old gobbled them down!

  11. @txmere says:

    I made this last night. I loooove okra and this was ridiculously easy. Thanks for the tip!

  12. Pingback: Better than French Fries... - Page 2 | Mark's Daily Apple Health and Fitness Forum page 2

  13. Erica Johnson says:

    My favorite own recipe is frozen sliced okra-spread it on a spray-greased cookie sheet, generously sprinkle with parmesan cheese (from the plastic container, not fresh), and bake at 450 for about 20 minutes. It tastes like fried without all the starch, fat, or work!