Ok, look. I know okra’s a polarizing vegetable. Mention it in the South, and you get people who love it, people who call it a slimy mess, and people who “only like it fried, y’all.” Mention it out of the South, and I don’t even know the reaction you’d get. It’s a Southern staple, but it has deep roots in African American heritage as well, meaning it holds different meanings for people outside of modern-day Southerners. The reaction is decidedly mixed across the board because of all these factors.
I definitely love it despite my granny using picking okra as a punishment in the summer. If you have never picked fresh okra, be grateful you don’t know the itchy, stingy predicament of those that have! Despite all that, I love okra, whether it’s in gumbo, fried, grilled, pickled, or pan-fried like in this Old Bay Skillet Okra recipe.
Make Old Bay Skillet Okra Your Own!
This recipe is written to give you an idea about how to make this side dish, but honestly, it’s completely up to you how much Old Bay you use and how long you cook these. Think about this more like a process or an idea rather than a strict recipe. The 1/2 lb. of okra to 1 tsp. of Old Bay is a pretty good, not too spicy ratio of okra to Old Bay. Use it as a guide, but make it work for you and your family! If the family likes it spicy, add a little more heat to your Old Bay Skillet Okra!
How Do I Choose Okra?
Okra is best when it’s smaller. Like zucchini and squash, if you let it get super huge, it’s going to lose its flavor. When picking okra, choose smaller pods. If you have a bigger one, like you had to buy a pre-packaged bunch, roll it between your index finger and thumb. Does it feel kind of hard? Cut into it and feel a slice. If it feels harder than the others and almost like tree bark or a stick, it’s probably not going to be great. You can cook it and see, though, because honestly you can discard those pieces later if it turns out you don’t like them. It’s all up to you!
I’m going to say this one more time for y’all in the back – if you don’t like okra, you won’t like this dish. There’s no peanut oil and fry batter to hide it behind. This is for the straight-up vegetable lover, that person who loves to try new things and has maybe had okra boiled to literal death and still kind of liked it. This is for the cook who has a fan stationed by the stove all summer and tries to keep the time the oven’s on to a strict minimum when it’s hot (ahem, me). She’s simple. She’s straightforward. She’s bare bones, and she’s really, really good.
For more photos of this recipe and all the other homemaking projects I’m doing, including recipes, knitting patterns, and other home projects, find me on Instagram!
Old Bay Skillet Okra
- ½ lb. okra
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt & pepper to taste
- Wash your okra, making sure to get any little hairs off. If you need to, scrub with your vegetable brush or a washcloth. Pat it dry.
- Cut your okra into 1/2" or bite-sized pieces.
- In a nonstick skillet, heat up your olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add your okra and sprinkle with salt.
- Cook your okra over medium-high heat, stirring them occasionally.
- When they start looking pretty good, or after about 5-6 minutes, sprinkle the Old Bay on and stir to combine.
- Keep cooking your okra until they are fork-tender and the texture you prefer.
- You can cook your okra longer to make it drier, or shorter to leave it softer.
- To make it spicier, add a little more Old Bay. This is a super customizable recipe, so make it your own!
- This stores in the fridge for about 2 days.