Crispy air fryer okra with flavorful cornmeal breading is a snap to make. You only need five ingredients, plus herbs and spices, to make it. It makes a satisfying plant-based appetizer or side dish!
Y'all, I love fried okra. And this air fryer okra is based on my favorite fried okra in all of Atlanta.
Six Feet Under, a restaurant here in town, makes bangin' fried okra. Instead of the little rounds that are so breading-heavy, they simply slice their okra in half.
It's a whole different fried okra experience, and it's a far superior method, in my estimation.
Let's do this!
Important recipe notes
To make this okra, you first toss it in homemade vegan buttermilk (Don't worry -- it's easy!), then in a seasoned cornmeal mixture before you air fry it.
Let's talk about the buttermilk first. Technically, you could make this with plain ol' vegan milk, but your results won't be as good.
When it comes to breaded and "fried" foods, buttermilk is a gamechanger. The secret is in the acidity. That extra acid helps the coating stick better and helps the okra brown like a champ.
To make your "buttermilk", just mix your creamy, plant-based milk of choice with a little bit of apple cider vinegar. Set it aside to curdle, and boom! Vegan buttermilk: achieved!
I know: curdling isn't usually the goal with any recipe, but today, it's okay. I suggest making this first thing before you start your other prep work.
After you coat your okra, you stick it into the freezer for 15 minutes. This allows the coating to harden up a bit, so it adheres better to the okra. It's definitely worth the wait!
The other important thing we need to talk about is the spray oil. Please do not use an aerosol oil sprayer on your air fryer! That super fine mist of oil will ruin the nonstick coating over time.
Instead, invest in a spritzer, like this one. Not only is it better for your air fryer, but it's refillable, which means less trash. It's also cheaper to fill this up than to keep buying pre-filled spray oil bottles.
After you coat and spray the okra, cook it for eight to 12 minutes, stopping to shake and spritz with oil a couple of times. When you stop to spritz, make sure you spray any spots on the okra that look dry.
During the last four minutes of cooking, check in often. You want your okra to be golden brown.
How to serve and store
You can certainly devour this as-is, but it's also lovely with a dipping sauce. Here are some ideas:
- 2 tablespoons vegan mayo mixed with 1-2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- cashew ranch dressing
- garlic cashew cream sauce
- avocado-lime-basil aioili
Really, any creamy dipping sauce is fair game here.
Air fryer okra is also a great bowls or salad topper to add some crispiness!
If you have leftovers, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
How to reheat
To reheat your fried okra, toss it back into the air fryer at 350° F for three to five minutes. There's no need to worry about a single layer here. If it's not fully warmed up, just give it a shake and cook for another few minutes at 350° F.
I wouldn't microwave this to reheat it, because it will be mushy.
Air fryer okra recipe
- 1/4 cup soy milk or oat milk - mixed with 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 pound fresh okra - sliced in half lengthwise (about 4 cups)
- 1/3 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- spray oil
- In a large bowl, mix together the milk/vinegar mixture and the okra. In another large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, and seasonings. Toss the okra by the handful in the cornmeal mixture, and transfer it to a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Put the okra into the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Transfer the okra from the baking sheet to your air fryer basket, until you've filled the bottom with a single layer. It's okay if they are touching some, but you don't want a ton of overlap. Spray the okra lightly with the spray oil, and air fry for 8-12 minutes at 400° F, stopping every 4 minutes to shake the basket and spritz any parts of the okra that look dry with the spray oil. Your okra is cooked when it's golden brown.
- Repeat with the remaining okra, until it's all cooked. You can keep the cooked okra warm on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200° F while you cook the rest of the batches. It will take 2-3 batches, depending on the size of your air fryer.