Okra is a very unique vegetable. While cooks refer to okra as a vegetable, it is technically a fruit. This is a fruit that doesn’t mature or ripen to a level of sweetness. Similar to bell peppers, this fruit is naturally savory.
The seeds of the flowering okra plant were likely first brought to the US from Africa. It is used commonly in many southeastern dishes, such as gumbo and etouffee. The pods contain small seeds that are gelatinous in nature, making it a healthy thickener for soups and stews. It is also deep-fried and served with a simple dipping sauce. And, okra whole pods can be pickled.
If you don’t really care for the slimy nature of cooked okra, you can prepare it in your air fryer to achieve a crispy texture. It makes a nice appetizer when breaded or a side dish to accompany an entrée. I like to air fry plain okra slices until crispy and use them as you would croutons on top of a salad or soup.
Is Okra Good for You?
Okra pods are a very low-calorie fruit. They add just 30 calories per 100 grams to your diet. Okra does not contain any fat or cholesterol. These pods are a good source of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
The pods are a good source of many essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Okra is also high in vitamins A, K, and C. It is also a very good source of folate which is important to the health and development of unborn babies and is often recommended in supplement form to pregnant women.
The mucilage substance that is inherent in okra promotes smooth peristalsis of digested food through the gut. This can ease certain irritable bowel conditions.
Best Method for Cooking Frozen Okra
Like many, I am partial to okra deep fried in very hot oil. There is no denying that it is a delicious way to prepare either raw or breaded okra, especially frozen slices. Yet, it is probably the least healthy way to prepare okra. The oil is high in saturated fat and calories. Many of the nutrients of the okra are lost in the hot oil.
Air-fried okra is a healthy alternative to the deep-fried version. It doesn’t take long and the okra has a great texture. I do recommend adding a small amount of olive or avocado oil to the frozen okra slices. This will help to keep them from sticking to the air fryer and will add to the outer layer of crunch.
Don’t be tempted to defrost the okra before cooking in the air fryer. Okra has a good deal of moisture and you don’t want to place soggy slices in the air fryer. The okra can become unpleasantly mushy. Just place the frozen okra in a pre-heated, medium-high air fryer and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until crisp.
If cooking breaded or battered okra, prepare a dipping sauce beforehand. A garlicky aioli or spicy buttermilk sauce is perfect. Not a fan of spice? Just make a quick thousand island dressing with ketchup, mayonnaise, and pickle relish.
The recipes described here are for no coating frozen okra and coated frozen okra with a buttermilk dipping sauce.
Air Fryer Frozen Okra (Gluten-free, Paleo, Keto, Vegan)
- 2 cups frozen okra slices
- 2 tsps extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Total time:12 min – Prep time:2 min – Cook time:10 min – Serves:3 people
1. Preheat your air fryer at 360°F for 5 minutes.
2. Place the frozen okra slices in a mixing bowl. Pour the olive oil over the okra. Sprinkle on the salt and garlic powder. Toss to coat everything.
3. Add the okra to the basket or crisper plate of the air fryer in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may have to cook in two batches. Cook for 5 minutes. Shake the bucket and continue to cook until crisp and slightly browned, approximately 5 more minutes.
4. Serve immediately as a side dish or use as a garnish on top of soup or salad.
Air Fryer Frozen Breaded Okra with Buttermilk Dipping Sauce (Vegetarian)
This recipe makes a great appetizer or party snack. Make the dipping sauce first and set it aside while you cook the okra. You can make the dipping sauce a day ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Buttermilk Dipping Sauce
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup good mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 TBS chopped chives
- 1 small garlic clove, finely minced or pressed
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 2 pinches cayenne pepper (optional)
Total time: 5 min – Prep time: 5 min – Yield: 1-1/2 cups
1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, garlic, salt, and cayenne.
2. Cover and set aside while you cook the okra. Place in individual ramekins to serve.
Frozen Breaded Okra Slices
- 2 cups frozen and breaded okra slices
- Extra virgin olive oil spray
Total time: 11 min – Prep time: 1 min – Cook time: 10 min – Serves: 2 people
1. Preheat your air fryer at 375°F for 5 minutes.
2. Lightly spray the basket or crisper plate of your air fryer. Add the okra to the air fryer in a single layer. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may have to cook in two batches. Cook for 5 minutes. Shake the bucket and continue to cook until crisp and warmed through, approximately 5 more minutes.
3. Serve immediately with buttermilk dipping sauce.
Note: Not all air fryers heat the same way. Mine tends to get a little warmer than others. Check the okra for doneness by tasting a piece. Cook for a bit longer if needed.