Our Outstanding Okra Recipes Are Sure to Tempt You to Cook This Unusual Vegetable

martha stewart standing outside holding basket of okra
Photo: Douglas Friedman

Okra is a good source of fiber, minerals, and vitamins. Best of all, it's easy to prepare and, as our recipes go to show, entirely delicious.

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Okra has a reputation for being a slippery customer, and in many food conversations in the so-called Western World, slippery is considered bad. Let's adjust our thinking and learn from cultures that know better: Yes, okra is slippery, but that's its strength and appeal. Appreciating how to use okra effectively is the secret to enjoying this late summer vegetable in all its unapologetic succulence. From okra kebabs to slow-cooked stews, this collection of our favorite okra recipes will show you how.

The Old World is okra's home. Its botanical name is Abelmoschus esculentus (the species name means good to eat, or edible). It belongs to the useful mallow family, which includes several native North American species as well as the plant that produces roselle (also called hibiscus or sorrel, and used to make a tart red beverage in the Caribbean). The ancient crop is native to Africa and Asia and made its way to North America via the trade in enslaved people. The plant has naturalized across tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia, South America, the Middle East, and around the Mediterranean.

Okra plants grow tall, and when their beautiful flowers are spent and pollinated in late summer, the finger-sized seed pods are produced. While tender and green, they are harvested as a vegetable.

Southern U.S. states have embraced okra, and in Louisiana gumbo is often defined by its presence (the sliced vegetable also helps to thicken the soupy stew). In South Asia and the Middle East, it is a valued ingredient. The gist? Once you know how best to prepare and enjoy okra, we think you'll be sold on it, too. Read on for our okra recipes that are sure to tempt you to cook this favorite vegetable.

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Fried Okra

spiced fried okra served with lime wedges
Douglas Friedman

It's all about contrasts: The crisp rice flour and cornmeal coating around the slick seeds of the okra make this fried okra plate absolutely incredible. Warming coriander, paprika, oregano, and thyme call for the coolness of tart lime wedges alongside.

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Dilly-Pickled Okra

dilly pickled okra served with fried chicken
Douglas Friedman

When in doubt, pickle it. Slender okra pods are made to fit pickle jars. Their dill-infused and tender tartness is delicious alongside a crispy piece of fried chicken.

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Braised Okra with Roasted Garlic and Tomato

braised okra with roasted garlic and tomato served with parmigiano-reggiano
Douglas Friedman

A late summer ode to okra means braising it with beefsteak tomatoes and the heady sweetness of slow-roast garlic. Serve this savory stew atop creamy polenta or fried rice.

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Vegan Gumbo

vegetarian gumbo
Sidney Bensimon

Use a Creole seasoning to capture an authentic aroma in this vegan gumbo, whose roux is made not with butter, but with safflower oil. Meaty squash and black eyed peas offer contrast for slices of silky okra.

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Okra Kebabs

grilled fish bass okra
Bobbi Lin

If there's a recipe to convert you to the cause of okra, this is it. Whole okra pods are tossed in a powerfully flavored marinade of cilantro, lime, garlic, chile, and the nine aromatics of an Arabic spice mix. Skewered and grilled, they are charred on the outside, sweet and tender on the inside, and pretty much finger-licking good.

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Sautéed Okra with Coconut and Indian Spices

okra dish
Joanna Garcia

This quick okra side dish is redolent with spices. Popped mustard seeds, shredded coconut, turmeric, garlic, chile, and an important pinch of asafoetida create a vivid dish that is ready in under 10 minutes.

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Braised Lamb Shank and Okra Stew

stews braised lamb shank okra
Bobbi Lin

Slow-cooked lamb shanks become aromatically tender as they braise with okra in an aromatic Arabic spice mix combined with saffron and bay. A green coriander condiment is served alongside as a fresh foil for the melting lamb and slippery okra.

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Seafood Gumbo

gumbo shrimp okra peppers
Martyna Szczesna

Hot and sweet, saucy, and singing of summer, this okra, shrimp, and crabmeat gumbo is made to be slurped. You'll need hot sauce.

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Tomato and Okra Relish with Mint

Chris Court

Cumin, coriander, pepper, and cinnamon perfume okra, tomatoes, and jalapeño destined for the late summer grill. A handful of fresh mint is added to the chopped vegetables to finish this savory relish, as good with grilled steak as it is with fish or portobellos.

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Okra Fritters

Okra Fritters in basket
Petrina Tinslay

These quick fritters combine okra with onion, flour, buttermilk, and egg and are ready in 10 minutes. Eat them hot with a flurry of flaky salt or lime wedges. (Some us even like them with melted butter and a drizzle of molasses.)

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Pressed Chicken with Okra Succotash

Bryan Gardner

For an impressive but simple summer supper, press a chicken (this is fun) and serve with a pan-cooked succotash of okra, corn, beans, and onion. As good cooked on a stove top as it is over a campfire.

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