Recipe: Oven-Fried Okra

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Okra: a Savor the South® cookbook, by Virginia WillisEvery Tuesday this summer we’re featuring a new recipe on the blog from one of our Savor the South® cookbooks. Each little cookbook in our Savor the South® cookbook collection is a big celebration of a beloved food or tradition of the American South. From buttermilk to bourbon, pecans to peaches, bacon to catfish, one by one each volume will stock a kitchen shelf with the flavors and culinary wisdom of this popular American regional cuisine. Written by well-known cooks and food lovers, each book brims with personality, the informative and often surprising culinary and natural history of southern foodways, and a treasure of some fifty recipes—from delicious southern classics to sparkling international renditions that open up worlds of taste for cooks everywhere. You’ll want to collect them all.

Today’s recipe is from Virginia Willis’s Okra. Chef and food writer Virginia Willis hails from Atlanta and is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all, Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, and the James Beard Award-winning Lighten Up, Y’all. Willis sure knows her okra, too. Fried okra is a Southern favorite, and Willis prepares hers in the oven instead of a deep fryer. Oven-fried okra pairs perfectly with barbecue, or on its own as a delectable snack!

Don’t forget to “like” the Savor the South® book page on Facebook for more news and recipes. Also, check back here next Tuesday for another Savor the South® Sampler recipe!

Oven-Fried Okra

Let’s face it, there’s really nothing like fried okra, but this oven-fried version comes darn close. I prefer to use organic canola cooking spray. It has little flavor, a high smoke point for high-heat cooking, and no aftertaste like some cooking sprays seem to have.
Servings: 4


  • 1 cup fine cornmeal (not self-rising)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
  • Dash kosher salt to taste
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 lb okra stem ends trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • Cooking spray


  • Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  • Combine the cornmeal and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish. Season heartily with salt and pepper.
  • Whisk together the buttermilk and egg in a large bowl. Add the okra and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine and set aside to marinate, about 3 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the okra from the buttermilk and add it to the cornmeal mixture. Dredge the okra in the cornmeal mixture. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and spray it with cooking spray. Place the okra on the heated pan and lightly coat it with additional cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring once. Stir and spray again. Cook an additional 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


From Okra: a Savor the South® cookbook by Virginia Willis. Copyright © 2014 by Virginia Willis.