Air Fried Okra is breaded in a seasoned flour and cornmeal mix, then spritzed lightly with oil and air fried to crispy golden brown perfection in minutes. A quick side dish that's just as amazing as it's classic southern deep fried version.
I use my air fryer every day. Not just for how quick and easy it makes meal time, but for how it has the ability to turn my favorite fried foods into healthier versions.
Deep fried okra is one of my favorite fried vegetables, thanks to a husband who grew up in the south and his aunt who introduced me to the best southern fried okra I'd ever eat.
Air fried breaded okra won't taste exactly like it's been deep fried, but it's very close. And if you've never had southern fried okra, you'd never know the difference.
"Frying" it with the air fryer makes it healthier since you're not submerging it in a big pot of oil. The only fat and calories from the oil here are the few from the small amount of cooking spray you need. This is necessary to make it crispy and to give it that deep golden brown hot-out-of-the-deep-fryer appearance.
Two coats of a seasoned cornmeal flour mixture.
One dunk into buttermilk and egg.
Using a double coating of the breading ensures you get an evenly and fully covered fried vegetable. And the buttermilk and egg not only get the breading to completely stick, they enhance the flavor.
You will love how flavorful this okra is, and how easy it is to make such an amazing looking "fried" vegetable.
For the breading:
- All purpose flour
- Seasonings: garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper
For the batter*:
- White vinegar
*Can be replaced with buttermilk and egg.
Start by washing and slicing the okra into ½ inch pieces. Discard the top with the stem and the pointy tip at the other end. Dry with paper towels.
Step 1. Add milk and white vinegar to a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes while chopping the okra, then add the egg to the milk and vinegar. Mix thoroughly. Mixing milk and vinegar will make a homemade buttermilk. You can use store bought buttermilk instead, if you prefer.
Step 2. In another bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Mix well.
Step 3. Working in batches, fully coat the okra slices in the cornmeal mixture.
Use a slotted spoon to shake off excess cornmeal mixture.
Then place into the bowl of buttermilk
Use the slotted spoon to now shake off any excess buttermilk or egg, then put back into the cornmeal mixture. Thoroughly coat a second time. You'll see little clumps of egg on some of the okra pieces during this step. You can pull them off or leave them on, but they won't affect the taste at the end.
Step 4. Use the slotted spoon to pick up the now fully breaded okra. Gently jiggle the spoon to remove any excess breading and transfer to an oiled air fryer basket or tray. Place in one layer so the pieces are not touching. Spray generously with cooking oil until the breading is completely coated in oil.
Step 5. Air fry at 400°F (204°C) for 10 minutes. Half way through, toss and spray again with oil so that any unoiled breading has been sprayed. The okra will be a deep golden brown when finished. Depending on your air fryer, you may need to cook it for longer, up to 15 or so minutes.
Tips for this Recipe
- Cornmeal adds flavor and texture to the breading. It helps create a breading that sticks and is thick, covering the okra entirely without falling off. If you don't have cornmeal, you can use an all flour mixture. But keep in mind that the texture won't be the same.
- This recipe works in an oven type air fryer or basket style air fryer. You may need to air fry in batches if yours is smaller. I use either my Instant Pot Duo Crisp basket or Omni Plus oven.
- To avoid a clumpy breading or buttermilk mixture as you're working, use a slotted spoon to easily shake excess breading and batter off of the okra and through the slots and into the bowl below.
- Make sure to place the okra in a single layer, especially during the first half of cooking. This ensures it's crisped up on all sides.
- Use any cooking spray- olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, etc.I have made this with olive oil, canola oil and coconut oil and any difference is too small to notice.
- As with ovens, adjust the cooking time for your air fryer. Brands and models vary slightly, so start watching the food during the last few minutes.
- Make it spicy by adding chili powder, cayenne powder, scotch bonnet powder, or Cajun seasoning.
Compared to deep frying, air fried okra contains less calories and fat. This all depends on the cooking spray you use, because there will be slight differences. However, many traditional fried okra recipes use bacon drippings, Crisco, or other oils loaded with saturated and trans fats. When air frying it, none of these are used, eliminating these unhealthy aspects of an otherwise delicious vegetable!
Yes! If you had frozen okra and didn't have time to defrost it, you can follow the instructions for breading it, then air fry for 15 minutes (or until a toothpick pokes through easily).
You can also bread fresh okra and freeze it for cooking later. It will freeze well for up to 2 months.
Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. The longer it's stored, the less crispy it becomes. Reheat in the air fryer for a few minutes or the microwave for a quick reheat.
It can be frozen for up to 2 months and air fried from frozen to defrost and warm up.
Air Fried Okra
- ½ lb okra cut into ½ inch pieces
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 egg
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- olive oil cooking spray
- Add milk and white vinegar to a bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes while chopping the okra, then add the egg to the milk and vinegar. Mix thoroughly.
- In another bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.
- Working in batches, coat the okra slices in the cornmeal mixture. Dredge coated okra in the milk mixture. Using a slotted spoon, pick okra out of the milk and shake excess liquid through the bottom of the spoon. Transfer to the cornmeal mixture again and thoroughly coat.
- Use the slotted spoon to pick up breaded okra. Gently jiggle the spoon to remove any excess breading and transfer to an oiled air fryer basket or tray. Place okra in one layer so the pieces are not touching. Spray generously with cooking oil until the breading is completely coated in oil.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (204°C). Air fry okra for 5 minutes. Toss and spray again with cooking oil so that any unoiled breading has been sprayed. Air fry for 5 more minutes, or until breading is a deep golden brown. Depending on your air fryer, you may need to cook it for longer, up to 15 or so minutes.
- Remove from the air fryer and serve warm.
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