This fried okra recipe, made Guyanese style, results in perfectly crispy okra every time! This Guyanese twist on the classic southern dish involves baking and then sautéeing the veggie for a flavorful side dish that’s ready in less than 30 minutes.
Guyanese Style Fried Okra
Fried okra or fry okro/ochro (if you are Guyanese) is one of my favorite ways to eat okra. I love vegetables that are sautéed in fat, with minimal seasoning so that you really taste the flavor of the vegetable. This recipe is a classic Guyanese way of cooking okra/ochro with a little twist!
If you love the taste of fried/sautéed okra (ochro) but don’t like all of the time and oil it takes to get rid of the slime, then this recipe is for you! This is different from typical fried okra recipes. Although this recipe is titled “fried okra”, please note that most Guyanese and Caribbean people often use “fry” in place of sauté. For example, a recipe labeled Fried Baigan is more often than not, sautéed baigan/eggplant.
- Guyanese Style Fried Okra
- Why You’ll Love This Fried Okra Recipe
- What is Okra?
- Choosing the Best Okra
- Fried Okra from Frozen
- Ingredients for Fried Okra
- How to Make Fried Okra
- Oven Roasting Frozen Okra
- Removing the slime from okra:
- Roasting/Air Frying okra versus using Amchur (dried mango powder) or lime/lemon juice
- Tips for the Best Fried Okra
- Recipe Variations
- What to Serve with Fried Okra/Ochro
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Fried Okra (Guyanese Style)
Why You’ll Love This Fried Okra Recipe
- A Healthier Alternative: Since this isn’t coated in cornmeal, batter, or flour and isn’t deep fried like southern fried okra, there’s less oil and fewer calories. Okra is also naturally rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
- No Slime: My method of roasting before pan frying the okra ensures there’s no slimy residue by the time it’s ready to eat.
- Absolutely Delicious: Pan fried okra is tossed with aromatics for a fresh, light flavor that’s perfect for the summer!
What is Okra?
Okra is the seed pod of the Abelmoschus esculentus plant. It is technically a fruit although it is often prepared and served as a vegetable. It is characterized by its slimy texture when cooked, but it has a mild flavor that makes it adaptable for a variety of recipes.
Okra is native to hot, humid clients like Nigeria, Ghana, India, and Mexico. It is popular in Southern and Carribean cuisine and is usually fried, sautéed, or roasted, and added to gumbo and stews.
Choosing the Best Okra
My first choice for okra/ochro is always fresh is best! I get fresh okra from my local Asian market. Sometimes if I’m lucky I can find them at Sprouts. To test if the okra is fresh snap a small piece of the tip off.
If it breaks off easily and with a little snap, then it is fresh and is perfect for this recipe. If it bends and folds but doesn’t snap, the okra is hard and will be hard to slice and fibrous when cooked.
Fried Okra from Frozen
Sometimes I can’t find fresh okra even when it is in season. Desperate times call for desperate measures and a good substitute for the fresh okra is frozen okra.
Have you seen the Pictsweet whole and cut frozen okra? I don’t like using the cut version because it is not sliced thin enough but if I am really desperate, like when I’m craving okra and dhal and rice, then I will buy the frozen cut okra and spend time cutting those pieces into thinner slices. I know, I know. This is a judgment free zone, so don’t judge me!
Ingredients for Fried Okra
I keep the seasoning simple to let the natural flavors shine through.
- Okra: Use fresh okra or Pictsweet Frozen Whole Okra.
- Aromatics: Sauté the okra with yellow onion and grated garlic cloves.
- Tomatoes: This is an optional ingredient that adds a slightly sweet, savory flavor.
- Salt: Add to taste.
- Cooking Oil: Use avocado oil or another oil with a high smoke point for sautéing.
- Cooking spray: Use this in order to prevent the okra from sticking to the baking sheet.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Fried Okra
I cut my okra into very thin slices, then spread them in a thin layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, before roasting in the oven. Lining the baking sheet with parchment paper makes it easy to scoop them up after roasting.
In Guyana, we simply set the cut okra out in the sun to “dry.” A day or two in the equatorial heat dries all that slime up. This step made it easy to fry up (sauté) the okra into a crispy stir-fry.
Oven Roasting Versus Drying in the Sun
I now live in Denver, Colorado and I do not always have the option to put my okra out in the sun. So in the winter months, I started putting my thinly sliced okra on a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper and roasting them in the oven.
Just 20 minutes in the oven is the equivalent of 2 days in the sun! Roasting in the oven also is great for time management because while it is roasting, I prep my protein.
Oven Roasting Frozen Okra
The oven method works particularly well with frozen okra which tends to be really slimy when defrosted. After the okra has completely defrosted (don’t soak it in water to defrost or it will become soggy), I slice whole okras into thin slices and spread them on a baking sheet (just like I do with the fresh okra).
Then I bake them for 20 minutes and then sauté for a few minutes on the stovetop. The frozen okra will not get to the same level of crispness as the fresh okra but just like the fresh okra, “baking” removes all the sliminess.
After Roasting the Fresh Okra
After roasting the fresh okra becomes slightly dehydrated and shrinks but it is still absolutely delicious, with a slight crispiness that I love in fried okra. Below you will see how completely slime free these okra slices are.
Finishing Off the Fried Okra/Ochroes
While the okra is baking, I prepare my onions, garlic, and tomatoes (if I am using them). Then I sauté those in a little bit of oil until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes are soft.
Once the okra is to the desired crispiness, I remove the tray from the oven and transfer the okra slices into my sauté pan. Just a minute or two more of sautéing is needed and the okra will be the best okra you’ve ever made! Trust me.
Store leftover fried okra in an airtight container in the fridge and consume it within 5 days. Reheat them in either the air fryer or oven in order to retain that crunch.
Removing the slime from okra:
Most people enjoy the slimy texture of okra, but for some of it, we just can’t get down with that sliminess. Here are a few ways to remove or minimize the slimy texture of okra:
- Dry sliced okra in the sun for a day or two: This may not always be an option in temperate climates or if you
- Roast the okra in the oven: Perfect for cooler months and allows you to prep your protein while the okra is roasting
- Air Fry the okra: Love how quick this option is, however, you may have to do it in batches
- Lime or lemon juice to okra: A quick squeeze of lime or lemon juice while sautéing your okra helps to reduce the sliminess but does not completely eliminate it.
- Amchur (dried mango powder): This can mostly be found in Indian grocery stores or on Amazon. Check out my affiliate link to see what Amchur looks like.
Roasting/Air Frying okra versus using Amchur (dried mango powder) or lime/lemon juice
I prefer the air fryer or oven roasting method versus adding the amchur or lime or lemon juice because it does not alter the taste of the okra. Adding these ingredients to okra does reduce and often eliminates the slime, completely but leaves a bit of a sour taste behind. It’s similar to if you added a lot of tomatoes to a dish and can sometimes be overpowering.
Tips for the Best Fried Okra
- Fresh okra is best so if you have access to that, use it! Frozen okra will work in a pinch. If using frozen okra, sometimes you need to bake it a bit longer to remove all of the sliminess. This takes about 30-40 minutes. For extra crispiness, you may also spray the okra with cooking spray before baking.
- Do not overcrowd the baking sheet. In fact, that’s why I suggest using two. The okra needs space to crisp up properly.
- Keep an eye on the stovetop. Once removed from the oven, the sauté process for okra is very quick (just 2-3 minutes) so watch it closely to prevent it from burning.
- Air Fried Okra: Add some cooking spray to your air fryer basket, then add the sliced okra and another spray of your favorite cooking spray. Then 10 minutes at 450°F and toss after 5 minutes. This will give you the same results as roasting it in the oven. I’ve also done this with defrosted frozen okras and it works really well.
- Spicy: Add cayenne pepper when seasoning the okra for a kick of spice.
What to Serve with Fried Okra/Ochro
When I was growing up we didn’t typically add protein directly to fried okra. Fried fish and sautéed salt fish were our typical protein sides when eating fried okra. However, in many Guyanese households, tiny white belly shrimp is often paired with fried okra. In my Guyanese husband’s household they added any and every protein directly into their fried okra/ochro and over time I started to do the same. There is no wrong way to eat okra! Here are some of my husband’s favorite protein additions for fried okra:
- Sautéed Small Shrimp: Called salad shrimp in the US or white belly shrimp if you are in Guyana, these little shrimp are loaded with big seafood flavor
- Sautéed Salt fish: Use this recipe and then add the roasted okra at the end
- Stir-Fried Beef: Thinly sliced steak marinated in some all purpose seasoning, then stir-fried, works really well with this recipe.
- Fry up boneless chicken thighs: I use my boneless brown stew chicken recipe and cook it all the way down until there is no gravy, then I add the roasted okra. Here’s a link to an Instagram Reel showing how I do it.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best way to prepare okra is to roast and then pan fry it. This eliminates the slimy texture and you get delicious, crisp browned okra.
Soaking okra in vinegar is another way to eliminate the slime. The acid breaks it up and dissolves it within about 30 minutes. With this fried okra recipe, this step isn’t necessary.
Okra is naturally low in calories and high in nutrients. But if you fry a food, it will definitely take away some of its nutritional value. However, this recipe is a healthier alternative to traditional southern fried okra because the okra doesn’t have a batter and it’s not deep fried. Instead, it is sautéed with veggies.
Fried Okra (Guyanese Style)
- 2 Baking Sheets
- Large Sauté Pan
- 2½ lbs Fresh Okra or 2 Packets of Pictsweet Frozen Whole Okra
- 1 small Yellow Onion thinly sliced
- 4 cloves Garlic grated
- 2 large tomatoes diced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 tablespoons Avocado or similar oil for sautéing
- Cooking spray
- Prepare your okra!
- If using fresh okra rinse then dry your okra thoroughly before proceeding to the next step.
- Next, slice off the head and the tip of the okra, then slice the remaining "body" of the okra into thin circular slices.
- If using frozen okra, allow the okra to defrost completely, then use a few sheets of paper towel to pat away any moisture on the okra.
- Then remove the head and the tip of the okra and slice the remaining "body" of the okra into thin circular slices.
Roasting the okra
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray then place the sliced okra in a thin layer on the baking sheet. For this recipe you will need two full sized baking sheets.
- Next place the baking sheet on the top rack in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until all the sliminess is gone or until you've achieved the desired crispiness.
- While the okra is in the oven add the oil to a large sauté pan on medium heat and bring the oil up to temperature.
- When the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté until they are soft and translucent.
- Then add the garlic and tomatoes (if using) and sauté until the tomatoes are soft.
- When the okra is ready add the okra to the sautéed onions and tomatoes and sprinkle with the salt.
- Continue to sauté for about a minute or two to bring the flavors together.
- Then remove from the heat and enjoy with your favorite sides.
For extra crispiness you may also spray the okra with cooking spray before baking.
The information listed in the recipe card is an estimate provided by an online nutrition tool. The tool evaluates ingredient names and amounts then makes calculations based on the number of servings listed for the recipe. It is provided as a general guideline and not as a precise calculation. For precise nutrition information please feel free to add the ingredients to your preferred nutrition calculator or consult a doctor or licensed nutritionist.