Oven-Fried Okra has all of the flavor and crunch of cornmeal-crusted, Southern-fried okra without all the oil from deep frying it. I love my “fried sides” but I’m always looking for healthier versions of my faves. Keep reading to find out how I get that crunchy coating to stick to the okra with a fraction of the oil.
I’m all about tradition! Fiddler on the Roof is one of my favorite plays which is all about tradition…ya ha deedle deedle bubba bubba deedle dum! (If you’re a fan of the play, you will be singing that ditti all day long, now.
Not all Southern food has to be deep fried to have that sought-after crispy, crunchy cornmeal coating traditionally achieved in a Fry Daddy… do they still make those?
What’s the secret to oven-fried okra?
Since I’m always trying to find ways to eat traditionally Southern fried food in healthier methods, I came up with this recipe. You can bake it in a cast iron skillet or a sheet pan. I coat the okra in beaten egg white, toss in cornmeal and bake it. Voila! Yummy, crunchy “fried” okra.
Here’s how to make it
Beat the egg white in a large bowl with a fork to loosen it up. Toss the sliced (or whole baby) okra in the egg white so all the okra is coated. Then, sprinkle the cornmeal and salt (salt optional) over the okra and gently toss to coat the okra.
The cornmeal will cling to the egg white on the okra. Pour the okra in a hot cast iron skillet and bake! Don’t be tempted to stir more than once. The coating may fall off and the okra might break into pieces as well as fail to get a nice browned edge.
Fried okra is traditionally cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces but I bought a container of baby-size okra at the farmers market so I decided to try frying them whole! They turned out perfect so I’ll be on the lookout for tiny okra from now on.
If you have regular size okra in your fridge or garden, just cut them in 1/2-inch slices for the recipe this time and try baby okra next time. The deer ate all the tender leaves from my small okra plants this Spring so I will have to visit the farmers market a few times before I have okra from the garden.
Baked vs. Fried
I love my Lodge cast iron skillet and prefer it to a sheet pan because it gives the okra the best browned edges without overcooking it in the middle. You can easily use a rimmed baking sheet especially if you are making a double batch for Sunday supper. A high oven temp is key to this recipe.
These okra “fingers” would be yummy as an appetizer dipped in Sweet Baby Ray’s Secret Dipping Sauce for Southern-style party food . I love the horseradish flavor in it!
Don’t stop at oven-frying okra. Slice up your yellow and zucchini squash and use the same method to have a healthier version of another Southern favorite “fried side”. For a traditional version of fried okra Southern Bite has a yummy recipe here.
Here are a few more of my healthier recipes chock full of veggies to enjoy this summer.
All the flavor of and crunch of cornmeal-crusted, fried okra without all the oil of deep-frying. The trick is to toss the okra in egg white to help the cornmeal stick to the okra as well as aids in crispiness as it bakes in the oven.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large egg white
- 1 16-oz container or about 3 cups okra (Or baby whole okra)
- 1/3 cup cornmeal (not cornmeal mix)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet or rimmed baking sheet in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 425°.
Meanwhile, remove stem ends of okra and cut into ½-inch-thick slices. If using whole baby okra, you can leave on the ends.
Whisk egg white in a medium size bowl with a fork; add okra and toss until okra is coated. Combine cornmeal and salt and stir into okra mixture. Not all of the cornmeal will stick to okra and that’s ok.
Remove skillet from oven and add the oil. Spoon the coated okra into the skillet with a slotted spoon, tapping spoon on the bowl gently to let excess cornmeal fall back into the bowl. If you dump the entire bowl in the skillet the excess cornmeal will soak up the oil immediately. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Stir gently or flip with a spatula at 10 minutes or when the okra is lightly browned the bottom. Do not stir more than once.
Sliced yellow squash and zucchini can be made with this same method.