Southern stewed okra and tomatoes is an easy recipe that shows you how to cook okra in a way that will appeal to the whole family.  Eating okra stewed is not only healthy, but it’s also addictive!  Fresh or frozen okra can be used to reap year round benefits of this amazing side dish that is a Southern classic.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
a forkful of skillet Southern okra and tomatoes with greenery
Vegetarian Main Course, Veggie Side Dishes

Southern Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

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This post was originally published on May 7, 2018.

Feeling like Southern food for tonight’s meal?  How about trying a south Georgia classic: stewed okra and tomatoes.  This recipe is cooked in a skillet, so clean up is a breeze.  Its simple to make, and is low in carbs, plus it’s healthy and low cost to make.  What do you have to lose?

person holding a forkful of stewed okra and tomatoes

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What are the health benefits of okra?

  • High in fiber
  • High in vitamins B and C
  • High in potassium, folic acid, and calcium
  • Can help manage blood sugar

What are the calories in stewed okra and tomatoes?

One large helping of stewed okra and tomatoes has 276 calories and 21.4g carbs.  It is also high in vitamins A, C, and iron.  For more nutritional information, please scroll to the bottom of the recipe card.

plate of stewed okra and tomatoes with a fork

How do you know when okra is cooked?

It will change color from a bright green to a darker olive green, and it will be soft. 

What makes okra slimy?

Okra has mucilage in it, which is a thick syrupy substance made from sugar residues and proteins.  It becomes a natural thickening agent when boiled.  When sliced okra is heated, the mucliage’s viscosity increases and the okra becomes slimy.

However, when okra is added to soups and stews, it doesn’t taste slimy.  The okra slime helps thicken the soup or stew and gives it added flavor without having a slimy texture.

person holding a plate of stewed okra and tomatoes

How can you make okra less slimy?

  • Precook the sliced okra over high heat, then add it to your recipe.
  • Let the sliced okra sit in freshly squeezed lemon juice for 5 or 10 minutes before cooking.
  • Use it in soups and stews as a thickening agent and for added texture and flavor.
  • Stir fry it in large pieces quickly over high heat.
  • Deep fry sliced okra.  It is delicious!

What kind of okra is best for stewed okra and tomatoes?

If you are selecting fresh okra from the grocery store or farmer’s market, remember that small, young okra pods will be more tender.  The larger okra pods tend to have a woody spine in the middle, so it’s best to use the smaller pods.

Should you use frozen or fresh okra for stewed okra and tomatoes?

You can use either.  If fresh is available, use it.  If it’s out of season or if you’re in a hurry, use frozen cut okra.  My family likes it with fresh or frozen okra.  When you use frozen, it does cook a little quicker.

plate of stewed okra and tomatoes

How can I make stewed okra and tomatoes a main course?

  • Increase the cooked bacon to 2 slices per person.
  • Add cooked sausage.
  • Add shredded chicken.
  • Add cooked shrimp.
  • Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or grits.

What do you serve with stewed okra and tomatoes?

We love it served on top of mashed potatoes, but rice and grits are also popular choices.  Round out your meal with a slab of freshly made cornbread, pork chops, fried chicken, or peach cobbler.

How to Make Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

Gather the ingredients.  Chop the onion and mince the garlic, then measure the dry and wet ingredients.

ingredients for stewed okra and tomatoes

Cook the bacon in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat, turning it over with a fork as needed.  Put the cooked bacon on a paper towel-lined plate, blot off the excess grease, and let it cool.

patting grease off of bacon with paper towels

Pour the bacon fat into a bowl, then pour 1 1/2 tablespoons back into the skillet.

adding bacon grease to a skillet

Over medium high heat, sauté the onion for a few minutes until it’s soft, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.

cooking the onions in a skillet

Pour the chicken stock into the skillet and turn the heat to medium high.  Using a wooden turner, scrape the browned bits from the cooked bacon and onion off the bottom of the skillet.  This is called deglazing and will give the stewed okra more flavor.

deglazing the pan of cooked onions

Add the diced tomatoes, the sliced okra (fresh or frozen), and the spices.

adding salt and pepper to the okra and tomatoes

Stir with a large wooden spoon until well combined.

stirring the okra and tomatoes

Cover the skillet with a lid, aluminum foil, or a cookie sheet.  Bring the stew to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

putting the lid on the stewed okra and tomatoes

Remove from the heat.  If making ahead of time, allow to cool, then cover and place in the fridge. 

stirring a pan of stewed okra and tomatoes

Just before serving, add the bacon and stir, but save some of the bacon to use as a garnish.

person holding a bowl of bacon pieces with a skillet

Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle on the fresh parsley.  Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or grits.

person holding a spoonful of stewed okra and tomatoes

Pro Tips for Making Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

  • Need to make this ahead?  No problem; just reheat on the stovetop on medium low heat for 30 minutes before serving.
  • Want a vegetarian version?  Omit the bacon and replace the bacon fat for olive oil.
  • Want a spicier version?  Try crushed red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or a minced jalapeño.
  • Want a Cajun version?  Add 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning and use the trinity (onion, green pepper, and celery).
  • Want an Indian version?  Try whole cumin seeds, turmeric, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.
  • Want a different meat?  Try sausage, shrimp, shredded chicken, or ground beef for a main course dish.
  • Want more vegetables?  Try fresh cut corn or summer squash.
  • Don’t have fresh okra or tomatoes?  Use frozen cut okra and canned tomatoes.
  • Don’t want to use a yellow onion?  Try using a Vidalia or red onion.

Get out your trusty heavy-bottomed skillet and let this veggie side recipe tempt you to take a taste.  It’s so amazing that you’ll want to add it to your regular rotation for veggie side dishes.  Serve it over our sour cream mashed potatoes and you won’t be disappointed. 

Our Go-To Kitchen Tools for Stewed Okra and Tomatoes

Craving Southern food?  Try these other delicious vegetable side dishes.

white bowl of fried cabbage with bacon and greenery pot of collard greens holding a bowl of black eyed peas

The pleasure of a 5-star review for this stewed okra and tomatoes would be greatly appreciated.

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a forkful of skillet Southern okra and tomatoes with greenery

Southern Stewed Okra and Tomatoes


  • Author: Brooke
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 large servings 1x

Description

Southern stewed okra and tomatoes is an easy recipe that shows you how to cook okra in a way that will appeal to the whole family.  Eating okra stewed is not only healthy, but it’s also addictive!  Fresh or frozen okra can be used to reap year round benefits of this amazing side dish that is a Southern classic.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 7 slices smoked bacon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bacon fat, rendered from bacon
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 28 ounces petite diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups okra, fresh or frozen, and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until cooked through and crispy, turning the bacon over with a fork as needed.  Remove the bacon and blot off excess grease with paper towel.  Let it cool, then cut into half inch pieces or crumble and set aside.  Drain the bacon fat from the skillet, then return 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fat to the skillet.
  2. While the bacon is cooking, chop the onion and mince the garlic.  Wash and cut the fresh okra or measure out the frozen cut okra.
  3. Heat the bacon fat over medium high heat, then saute the onion for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and stir constantly for a minute.
  4. Deglaze the skillet by pouring in the chicken broth and scraping all the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet with a wooden turner.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, okra, salt, and pepper.  Cover the skillet with a lid, aluminum foil, or a small cookie sheet and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally with a large wooden spoon.
  6. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.  Stir in the crumbled bacon, reserving some for garnish.  Sprinkle the freshly chopped parsley on top for extra color and flavor.  Serve warm over mashed potatoes, rice, or grits.

Notes

  • Choosing no salt added diced tomatoes, unsalted chicken broth, and low sodium bacon will decrease the sodium significantly.
  • The pleasure of a 5-star review for our Southern stewed okra and tomatoes would be greatly appreciated.
  • 👩🏻‍🍳 Want to see our latest recipes?  Subscribe to our email newsletter to get our latest recipes, fun food facts, food puns, and behind the scenes news about our blog.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: stewed okra and tomatoes, southern

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