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Fried Okra Salad

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Fried Okra Salad has pushed my lifelong love-hate relationship with okra firmly to the love side! Pan-fried okra, combined with vegetables and thick-cut bacon, is a hearty summer salad.

This post and recipe card updated July 30, 2019
Fried Okra Salad - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

My parents eat okra pretty regularly, but it was quite possibly #1 on my hate list as a kid. They steamed it, which resulted in a very slimy texture. They’re from Trinidad, and one of the most popular dishes is callaloo, basically an okra stew. Nope, no thanks.

One night my dad told me I couldn’t leave the dinner table until I ate one piece of okra. I don’t remember how long it took, but the final result was Karyl=1, Dad=0.

I learned about fried okra when I moved to Oklahoma, and eventually gave it a chance. Depending on the restaurant, fried okra is really good! So when I came across a recipe for okra salad, I knew I had to make my own version Fried Okra Salad

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
  • It has a great combination of flavors and textures
  • The buttermilk adds a wonderful tangy bite to the okra
  • There’s no such thing as too much fried okra!
Fried Okra Salad - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Okay, I admit it…I’m kind of in love with Fried Okra Salad! The vegetables are a great complement to the perfectly fried okra, and the bacon adds a salty bite.

INGREDIENT TIPS FOR FRIED OKRA SALAD

Bell peppers and onions add great crunch. I use red, green and yellow peppers, but use whatever colors you have on hand. Red onion is sweeter than yellow, plus I love the color.

Use real bacon. Enough said. I prefer to use thick-cut bacon, but you could certainly use regular cut.

Grape or cherry tomatoes add a burst of fresh flavor. I simply cut them in half and serve them raw, but you could also roast them in the oven for 15 minutes.

Fried Okra Salad - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade
PREPARING THE OKRA

Fresh or frozen okra? I use fresh okra when it’s in season, and frozen when it’s not. I cut the okra into slices about 1/2″ thick.

Soak the okra in buttermilk for 15 minutes, and then drain completely.

Cornmeal is the key to crunchy fried okra. I use fine ground cornmeal, but there are many different types, so I recommend that you use your favorite.

I use white wheat flour, but any regular all-purpose flour will do.

Seasoning – I use onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper in addition to salt and pepper. You can use your favorite combination of spices but the okra will be quite bland with just salt and pepper

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS FOR FRIED OKRA SALAD

Remove stem from the ends of the okra, and cut okra into 1/2″ slices. If using frozen okra, remove from freezer and put into a bowl for about 2 hours to thaw.

overhead process shot of cut okra on a wooden board

Add buttermilk and okra to a bowl and marinate for 15 minutes. Drain and discard buttermilk.

overhead process shot of okra marinating in buttermilk

While okra marinates, dice bacon into bite-sized pieces, and cook over medium heat in a skillet until done. Transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Do not discard bacon fat!

Add cornmeal and seasonings to a gallon-sized Ziploc Bag. Add okra, seal bag, and shake vigorously to coat. I recommend doing it in batches, so each piece of okra gets fully coated.

overhead shot of breaded okra in a glass plate

Add enough oil for a depth of about 1/2″, and heat to medium-high. Add okra in one layer, being sure that the pieces don’t touch (you may need to do this in batches). When golden brown on all sides, transfer okra to paper towels to drain

process shot of okra frying in a skillet

Add bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and bacon to a large bowl, and toss well to fully combine. Add okra and toss gently. Don’t over-mix, or the okra will lose its coating.

angle shot of finished okra salad in a white bowl with a green napkin on the side
HOW TO FRY OKRA

I like to use a Cast Iron Skillet, because it has a very heavy bottom and cooks evenly.

Use the reserved bacon fat, and then add canola oil to make up the difference.

You want enough oil for about 1/3″ depth. That’s all you need for perfectly pan fried okra.

Make sure the oil is hot enough. I test the oil by adding one of the okra stems. When it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready to go

Don’t overcrowd the skillet! That’s true any time you fry. If you put too much in at one time, the temperature drops significantly and the food steams.

Don’t turn up the heat too high. Otherwise the oil could smoke and then the okra burns.

You will lose some of the breading in the skillet, but that’s okay.

overhead shot of finished okra salad in a white bowl with a green napkin on the side
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I make Fried Okra Salad vegetarian? Absolutely. Omit the bacon, and pan fry the okra in all canola oil

Can I bake the okra instead of frying? I have not tried doing that, but the okra won’t get the same crunch.

What if I don’t like raw vegetables? You could roast the vegetables in a 400 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or saute them lightly in a skillet.

Can I use canned okra? I don’t recommend it, as the okra will be too mushy

MORE DELICIOUS SUMMER SALADS
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Fried Okra Salad - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Fried Okra Salad

Yield: 2 people
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Fried Okra Salad has pushed my lifelong love-hate relationship with okra firmly to the love side! Pan-fried okra, combined with vegetables and thick-cut bacon, is a hearty summer salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Okra, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 slices bacon (I use thick-cut)
  • 1/4 cup each green, red and yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced 
  • 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • high quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 spring onions, cut into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Combine okra and buttermilk in a bowl, and let soak for 15 minutes. Drain well, and discard buttermilk
  2. PREPARE BACON WHILE OKRA SOAKS. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon. When you have reached your desired level of done, remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Reserve bacon fat in skillet
  3. Combine flour, cornmeal, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper in a large Ziploc bag
  4. Add okra to bag, seal and shake vigorously to combine. BREAD OKRA IN BATCHES, to fully coat each piece of okra
  5. Add enough oil for a depth of about 1/3", and heat over medium-high
  6. TEST THE OIL: I add an okra stem and, when it sizzles immediately, it is ready to go
  7. When the oil is hot, add okra and allow to fry, undisturbed, for about 2 minutes per side. You want to make sure each side gets a golden crust, but that it does not burn.
  8. When okra is golden brown and fully cooked, remove from oil and drain
  9. Add bacon, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes in a large bowl, and stir well to combine. Add okra and stir carefully. Don't over-mix, as the breading can easily fall off the okra
  10. Portion into serving bowls. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with spring onions

Notes

Use real bacon. Enough said

FRYING THE OKRA

I use a Cast Iron Skillet, because it has a very heavy bottom and cooks evenly.

You want enough oil for about 1/2″ depth. I use the reserved bacon fat, and Canola oil for the rest

Don’t overcrowd the skillet! That’s true any time you fry. If you put too much in at one time, the temperature drops significantly and the food steams.

Don’t turn up the heat too high or the breading will burn before the okra cooks.

You will lose some of the breading in the skillet, but that’s okay

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I make Fried Okra Salad vegetarian? Absolutely. Omit the bacon, and pan fry the okra in all canola oil

Can I bake the okra instead of frying? I have not tried doing that, but the okra won’t get the same crunch.

What if I don’t like raw vegetables? You could roast the vegetables in a 400 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or saute them lightly in a skillet.

Can I use canned okra? I don’t recommend it, as the okra will be too mushy

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 439Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 1707mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 10gSugar: 23gProtein: 21g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc

Adapted from SusieQTpies Cafe

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Cheryl

Monday 16th of October 2017

I've never been a huge okra fan, but you're changing my mind with this salad. And there's bacon in it too!

Anne Murphy

Sunday 15th of October 2017

LOL I"m with you - I hated okra *until* I learned to cook it. Whole, and quickly... Now I"m a fan!

In this, the breading makes up for it not being whole!

Karyl

Friday 20th of October 2017

Yes Anne! I still don't think I could eat the mushy version, but I'm all about the fried

Tatiana

Sunday 15th of October 2017

Love the juicy bright colors of this photos! I had fried okra many times before and agree with you that it's phenomenal!

Karyl

Friday 20th of October 2017

Thanks Tatiana! I appreciate it. Fried okra really is pretty awesome

Dominique | Perchance to Cook

Thursday 12th of October 2017

What a scrumptious way to eat fried okra! This salad is a must for all fried okra lovers. YUUM

Karyl

Friday 20th of October 2017

Thanks Dominique! I appreciate the kind words

Veena Azmanov

Thursday 12th of October 2017

I love okra. I made curries fried and baked them too but never added them to salads. This is very interesting - can't wait to try it. I know I will love it.

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