Stewed okra is a soulful dish that features the green, finger-shaped vegetable known as okra as its star ingredient. Paired with ripe tomatoes and seasonings, every bite of this Southern delight promises a comforting, earthy taste sensation.
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Detailed measurements and full instructions can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
As a busy mom, I love recipes that are straightforward yet delicious, like my family’s stewed okra and tomatoes. This charming Southern delight is not just another dish; it’s an experience!
Okra, with its unique texture and delicate flavor, is stewed with ripe tomatoes and aromatic spices, creating a warming, hearty stew. Every spoonful promises a burst of earthy flavors, transporting you to cozy family dinners at home.
If you’re a fan of vegetables cooked with lots of flavors, a little bit of fat, and seasoned, you’ll like this dish. Also, check out some of our other delicious vegetable recipes, like this Southern green beans and potatoes side dish.
Ingredients for Stewed Okra
- Bacon grease – this will give that delicious savory flavor to the okra. If you don’t have bacon grease, use butter or olive oil.
- Aromatics – Onions and garlic are simply a must. I use red onions, but yellow or sweet onions work as well.
- Okra – Fresh green pods are best for this dish.
- Tomatoes – I use fresh cherry tomatoes in my recipe, as I find them sweeter. Please feel free to use canned tomatoes if you’d like. Tomatoes in this dish help eliminate some of the slimness okra is known for.
- Chicken broth – provides flavor and gets the stew a stewing.
- Seasoning – cajun seasoning, salt, and black pepper.
How to make Stewed Okra
Prep your ingredients by cutting the okra into ½ inch pieces, removing the stems and tiny ends. Cut your cherry tomatoes in half. You can also cut tomatoes smaller if you prefer. Chop red onions and garlic.
Heat the bacon grease in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.
Add the chopped red onion to the skillet and sauté for about 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
Stir in the chopped garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
Add the sliced okra and cherry tomatoes to the skillet, and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Stir to combine the ingredients.
Pour in the chicken broth and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir well.
Cover the skillet or pot and let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, until the okra is tender and the flavors have melded together.
Remove the lid and give the stew a gentle stir.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
Variations to Spice Up Your Stewed Okra Game
- Adding different herbs and spices can greatly enhance the flavor profile of your stewed okra. For a more earthy and savory note, try adding thyme. If you’re a fan of smoky flavors, try adding smoked paprika.
- Adding proteins like bacon or sausage is a great option. Bacon offers a friendly, smoky flavor that pairs wonderfully with the subtle taste of okra. On the other hand, sausage, especially smoked or spicy varieties, can infuse your stew with a robust, meaty flavor that turns it into a complete meal.
- Add other vegetables, such as corn or bell peppers, to give your stew more flavor and color.
How to Store
Make ahead: Stewed okra is an excellent make-ahead dish. You can prepare the stew a day before or earlier in the day, which allows the flavors to meld together and enhance over time. Once cooked, allow the stew to cool, then cover the pot or transfer it to a container and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve.
To refrigerate: If you find yourself with leftovers, they can be safely stored in the refrigerator. Ensure the stew is in an airtight container to maintain freshness and prevent it from absorbing other flavors in the refrigerator. It can be stored like this for up to 3 to 4 days.
To freeze: Allow the stew to cool completely before transferring it to a freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bags. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat gently on the stovetop.
- Selecting Okra: Choose young, tender pods for the best flavor and texture. They should be bright green and free of blemishes or discoloration.
- Prepping Okra: Rinse your okra under cool water and pat dry before slicing. Slice off the stem ends but avoid cutting into the seed cells to minimize the ‘gooey’ texture okra is known for.
- Balancing the Sliminess: Okra releases a sticky substance when cooked, which can lend a gooey texture to your stew. Some people love this, while others prefer to minimize it. If you’re in the latter group, try adding a bit of acid such as tomatoes or vinegar to the dish, which can help reduce the sliminess.
- Spicing it up: Don’t be afraid to experiment with spices and herbs. This dish is a fantastic canvas for flavors like smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, thyme, or even a bay leaf.
- Cooking Time: Be cautious not to overcook your okra, as it can become too soft. Depending on how you like your okra, adjust the cooking time. Generally, 15-20 minutes should be enough to cook the okra but still maintain some bite.
Serving Suggestions & Pairings
Stewed Okra is a delicious side dish. Make it a part of your meal and serve it with cornbread. You can also serve this over rice. Other suggested dished to serve with okra are fried chicken, cajun fish, or fried fish.
Frequently Asked Questions
Okra releases a natural substance when cooked, which gives it a ‘slimy’ or ‘gooey’ texture. To reduce this, you can soak the okra in vinegar for about an hour before cooking, or cook it with acidic ingredients, like tomatoes or lemon juice.
Yes, frozen okra is a great substitute when fresh okra is not in season. It doesn’t need to be thawed before cooking and the cooking time may slightly increase.
I hope you love this okra as much as we do. If you’re looking for more Soul food vegetable recipes, try these out:
If you have tried this recipe, please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below!
- 2 Tablespoons bacon grease
- ½ red onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 pound okra cut into ½ inch slices
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
- 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- Heat the bacon grease in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.
- Add the chopped red onion to the skillet and sauté for about 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Stir in the chopped garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the sliced okra and cherry tomatoes to the skillet, and sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. Stir to combine the ingredients.
- Pour in the chicken broth and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Stir well.
- Cover the skillet or pot and let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, until the okra is tender and the flavors have melded together.
- Remove the lid and give the stew a gentle stir.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
- Cut the okra into slices or pieces, discarding the stem end. Avoid cutting the okra too thin, as this can increase the sliminess. Aim for slices that are about ½ inch thick.
- You can use frozen okra as a substitute for fresh in this stewed okra recipe. However, keep in mind that frozen okra may release more moisture when cooked, potentially affecting the overall consistency of the stew. Adjust the cooking time accordingly and be prepared for a slightly different texture than fresh okra.