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Food & Recipes

Celebrity Chef Gina Neely’s Secret to Making Okra Less Slimy — Plus 5 Easy Okra Recipes

You gotta try it in Bloody Marys!

Okra is unlike any other green vegetable at the store. This veggie boasts a sweet yet grassy flavor, but it can also have a slimy texture that many find off-putting. However, all it takes is the right dish to make you forget all about the slime. Don’t believe us? Take it from celebrity chef Gina Neely who had a change of heart about okra recipes after tasting her godmother’s gumbo as a child. “The very thing I hated — the sliminess — is what actually adds rich, hearty texture to soups and stews.”

While okra’s stickiness helps thicken slow-cooked dishes, Gina shares a key tip for reducing the slime when enjoying okra as a quick weeknight side. She also shares her rule of thumb for selecting fresh okra to ensure it’s tender once cooked. Keep reading to learn more about lessening okra’s sliminess as you’re cooking with it and five recipes to try while this veggie is still in season!

Why is okra slimy?

Okra gets its gooey consistency from mucilage, a sticky substance that’s made up of sugar residues. The type of cooking method used for the veggie is a key factor in maximizing or minimizing its overall sliminess. The longer okra cooks, the slimier it gets because the mucilage continuously breaks down in the heat.

Because of this, Gina’s number-one rule if you’r looking to reduce the stickiness is opting for quick or no-cook preparation methods. “Of course, it’s also delicious fried whole,” she says. “Or you can pickle it or stir-fry with chicken, whole tomatoes and noodles … just cook it a bit less time to keep the sliminess in check.” (Click through to find out the best type of pan and oil to use when cooking okra at high heat.)

What’s another way to ensure okra is flavorful?

Gina’s trick for the most flavorful okra? “I always use the smaller pods — they’re more tender. You can find them about 3 inches long at the farmers’ market,” she explains. “When seed pods get like 5 inches, they become a little tougher and fibrous, plus they’re less flavorful.” With these helpful tips, you’ll cook okra to savory — not slimy — perfection.

5 okra recipes worth trying

Okra’s versatility is why Woman’s World Food Director Julie Miltenberger loves it so much. “My favorite way to have okra is where they are split lengthwise, dusted in a flour and spice coating and then flash- fried until crispy,” she says. Whether you enjoy them fried like Julie, satuéed or as a pickled garnish for Bloody Marys, there’s an okra recipe below that perfectly matches your taste buds!

1. Southern Fried Okra

Julie loves Paula Deen‘s take on fried okra. The queen of Southern cooking herself says, “Fried okra is a staple here in the South, and if you ask me, it doesn’t get much better than my own fabulous Southern Fried Okra recipe!”

Southern Fried Okra
Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock


  • 2 tsp. Paula Deen’s House Seasoning (Buy from, $6.99)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 6 cups for frying oil
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs. fresh okra, sliced ½-inch thick
  • ½ cup buttermilk


  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Total time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 10 servings
  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet to 350°F. (You may not need to use this much oil; do not fill the pan more than halfway up the sides with oil.)
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, House Seasoning and cayenne pepper. Dip okra in buttermilk and then dredge in cornmeal-flour mixture to coat well.
  3. Carefully add okra to hot oil, in batches as needed, and cook until golden brown. Remove from oil, drain on paper towels, and then serve immediately.

2. Cajun Catfish with Bacony Okra

Cajun Catfish

Mississippi is the catfish capital of the US — and our flaky take is extra-delicious, thanks to a bacon-kissed okra topping that would be just as tasty on grilled chicken or steak.


  • 6 slices bacon, chopped 
  • 1 onion,chopped 
  • 1  rib celery, chopped 
  • 2  cloves garlic,minced 
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained 
  • 1 green pepper, diced 
  • 8 oz. okra, sliced diagonally 
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. pepper 
  • 1 cup stone ground yellow cornmeal 
  • 1 Tbs. Cajun seasoning 
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 6 catfish fillets, about 1½ lbs. 


  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. Coat large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook, stirring often, until crisp, about 4 minutes; drain on paper towels. Discard all but 1 Tbs. pan drippings. Add onion and celery to skillet; cook, stirring, until softened, 7 to 8 minutes, adding garlic during last 30 sec. Add tomatoes, green pepper, okra, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cover.
  2. Meanwhile, in bowl, combine cornmeal and seasoning. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Coat fish with cornmeal mixture gently pressing to adhere. In batches, add fish to skillet. Cook, flipping once, until opaque and lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to serving plate. Top with vegetables and bacon.

3. Cajun-Spiced Salmon with Tomatoes and Okra

Cajun-Spiced Salmon with Tomatoes and Okra
Food & Photo

Enjoy an irresistible taste of New Orleans in 25 minutes or less with spiced-just-right salmon and down-home-delicious okra.


  • 2 Tbs. oil 
  • 12 oz. whole okra pods
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. + 1 Tbs. dry Cajun seasoning 
  • 4 (6 oz.) salmon fillets 


  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat; add okra. Cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown and almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic and 1 tsp. seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are slightly softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat; cover to keep vegetables warm. 
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle salmon with remaining 1 Tbs. seasoning. In another nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat; add salmon, skin side up. Cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes; flip. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; cook until almost opaque in center, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve with vegetables. 

4. Sweet and Spicy Okra Hash

Food & Photo

Coconut oil gives this side a slimming boost, but grapeseed oil can be used in this recipe too!


  • ¾ cup minced onion
  • 3 Tbs. refined coconut oil
  • 3 cups diced butternut squash
  • 3 ½ cups sliced fresh or thawed frozen okra
  • ¾ cup diced red bell peppers
  • ¾ cup diced yellow bell peppers 
  • ½ tsp. smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  • Active: 10 mins
  • Total time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. In large skillet over medium heat, cook onion in coconut oil 2 minutes or until translucent. Add butternut squash; cover and cook 5 minutes
  2. Add okra, peppers and paprika. Cook uncovered 10 to 12 minutes or until squash is tender. Do not stir during last 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in parsley; season well.

5. Homemade Bloody Marys

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Cheers to summer fun with the ultimate bloody mary made fresh with vegetable juice, freshly squeezed lime and plenty of horseradish!


  • 4 cups vegetable juice
  • ¾ cup fresh lime juice (from 7 limes)
  • ¼ cup prepared horseradish
  • 3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 ½ cups vodka, 12 oz.
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • Lime wedges
  • Celery ribs, pickled okra spears and spicy pickled green beans


  • Active: 20 mins
  • Total time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. Combine vegetable juice, lime juice, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in pitcher. Stir in vodka just before serving.
  2. Sprinkle celery salt on small plate. Run lime wedge around rim of each glass; invert glasses onto celery salt so salt adheres to rim of glasses. Fill each glass with ice and about 1 cup vegetable juice mixture. Garnish with celery, pickled okra spears and spicy green beans.
    Note: Find jarred pickled okra spears like Talk O’ Texas Mild Okra Pickles in stores andonline (Buy from Walmart, $15.90).

Bonus: Okra isn’t just delicious in dishes, it also may be a boon for your well-being. Click through to see what okra can do for your immunity, cognitive health and more.

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