Spicy Dried Okra

It may not be pretty, but dehydrated okra is a crunchy snack that’s hard to resist.

Dried okra makes a surprisingly good bar snack.

Dehydrated Okra

Dried okra makes a surprisingly good bar snack.

Photo by: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo by Mick Telkamp

Dried okra makes a surprisingly good bar snack.

Okra is a staple in gumbo. It’s popular when deep-fried or pickled. It’s great for thickening soups and stews and is a staple of backyard gardens and Southern cooking. Still, when it comes to crunchy, airy snacks, okra has never been high on my list. Until now.

Its flavor similar to eggplant with a mild pepper undertone, okra has its fans, but its detractors are usually more vocal. The primary criticism of this easy-to-grow member of the mallow family isn’t about flavor. Mucilage, the stuff that makes okra so good as a soup thickener, also makes this vegetable a bit, well, slimy, when not carefully prepared. For many, breaded and fried is the best way to enjoy the flavor without dealing with the “slime factor.”

Drying okra using a dehydrator is a great way to preserve an abundant crop for future use, but it’s also a simple way to prepare a decidedly slime-free okra. Dehydration also transforms the hollow pod into an unexpectedly airy and crunchy treat with an unbeatable garden taste. Tossed with olive oil, salt and a little cayenne pepper, dried okra is an unusual bar snack that may not be pretty, but is hard to resist once you’ve tried it.

Whether harvesting okra from your garden or picking through the bins at your local farmers market, be sure to select pods that are lo larger than 3-4 inches. Larger okra tends to be stringy and tough, which carries through even when dried. 

Spicy Dried Okra

  • 2 pounds okra
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

Scrub okra, rinse with cold water and pat dry with a towel.

Halve okra lengthwise, cut into disks or leave whole and place okra in a large bowl.

Drizzle olive oil over okra and toss..

Add salt and cayenne pepper and toss to coat.

Transfer okra to dehydrator.*

Dry until crisp and breakable (about 12-18 hours, depending on dehydrator and okra size).

Store in an airtight container.

*For those without a dehydrator, no need to make the investment just yet. To dry okra in the oven, spread half of the batch of okra at a time in a single layer on a wire rack nestled in a baking sheet. Place in a 150 degree oven and turn okra every 3 hours for 12 hours or until desired crunchiness is achieved. 

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