This crunchy baked okra is just like the classic fried side, but it's oil-free

Eric and Shanna Jones
Healthier Southern Cooking
A healthier take on fried okra.

About the recipe

Reprinted with permission from Healthier Southern Cooking by Eric and Shanna Jones, Page Street Publishing, co. 2022. 

I love okra! When I was younger, the only way I knew to make okra was by frying it. And while fried okra is one of my favorite foods, it’s not exactly healthy. But what if you could get that same guilty-pleasure flavor without frying?

As it turns out, you can enjoy perfectly crispy okra by baking it in the oven. As a bonus, this okra recipe uses zero oil. Instead of using traditional breadcrumbs or cornmeal to coat the okra, I use panko bread crumbs. These traditional Japanese breadcrumbs pack a lot of crunch and create lighter and crispier okra than conventional coatings. And if you’re wondering how to rid yourself of okra’s notorious slime, roasting not only enhances the flavor but it also reduces any sliminess. With a new way to prepare okra, I’ve taken a classic Southern appetizer and made it a little healthier. Make this panko-breaded okra just one time, and you may never fry okra again.

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 lb (454 g) fresh whole okra

1½ teaspoon (3 g) Himalayan pink salt, divided

¼ cup (32 g) arrowroot flour

1 cup (56 g) panko bread crumbs

1⁄3 cup (33 g) grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried tarragon

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 large organic eggs

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°F (191°C). In a medium bowl, season the okra with 1 teaspoon of the Himalayan pink salt. Add the arrowroot flour and toss the okra to evenly coat it with the flour.

In another medium bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan Cheese, garlic powder, tarragon, black pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly. Crack the eggs into another medium bowl and whisk them together. Shake the excess flour from the okra. Place it in the egg, then place it in the breadcrumb mixture, coating it evenly. Place the okra on a large nonstick baking sheet. Bake the okra for 15 to 20 minutes, or until it is light golden brown and crispy.