Southern Stewed Okra and Tomatoes is a classic pairing of two delicious vegetables that makes the perfect side dish for almost any traditional southern meal. And you can have it on the table in under 30 minutes!
Southern Stewed Okra and Tomatoes is southern comfort food at its best! This delicious combination of simple ingredients is the perfect accompaniment for almost any southern dinner and it’s easy to make. It’s as simple as chopping an onion and simmering the ingredients to let the flavors meld.
Okra is one of those vegetables where you find very little middle ground. It seems that people either love it or they don’t.
I, of course, fall into the “love it” category. I like it every single way I’ve ever had it. Fried, boiled, in gumbo, in soup, and of course this classic dish of okra and tomatoes.
BeeBop on the other hand falls into the “don’t” category. Just not his thing. That’s okay. I try to tell him what he’s missing, but it just falls on deaf ears.
Okra and Tomatoes is a quick side dish that goes well with almost any main dish. I often serve it with southern fried chicken, old fashioned green beans, stick of butter rice, and buttermilk biscuits.
And the frozen okra is as good as fresh. Cooking okra with something slightly acidic like tomatoes, cuts out nearly all of the slime factor, too.
So, next time you’re at the grocery store, grab a bag of frozen okra and give this classic comfort food side dish a try. You won’t be disappointed!
💗 Why We Love This Recipe
- It’s a very traditional southern side dish often served with chicken, pork chops, or fish.
- It takes under 30 minutes to make!
- It’s loaded with rich flavors and full of fiber.
🥘 About the Ingredients
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- Bacon Drippings – This is optional but very highly recommended. Every traditional southern cook that I know keeps a container of bacon drippings (or “bacon grease” as we say) on hand. We use it to season all kinds of things. It gives a lovely smoky bacon-y flavor to the finished dish. If you don’t have bacon drippings or simply don’t want to use them, substitute an equal amount of butter or margarine.
- Onion – I prefer yellow onion in this recipe.
- Diced Tomatoes with Juice – In my opinion, diced canned tomatoes are one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. You can substitute fresh, super ripe tomatoes or canned whole tomatoes that you cut up yourself if you like.
- Fresh or Frozen Whole Okra – Frozen whole okra is almost indistinguishable from fresh okra. Use either for this recipe. Just make sure to purchase whole okra pods, not sliced or cut okra. If you’re using frozen, there’s no need to thaw it, just toss it right into the pan.
- Salt and Black Pepper – We keep the seasonings simple for a traditional version of this recipe.
You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.
🔪 How to Make Southern Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
STEP 1. Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the bacon drippings (or butter) to the pan.
STEP 2. When the bacon fat (or butter) has melted, add the chopped onion and sauté until it just begins to brown.
ABOUT BACON DRIPPINGS: Let me just stop here and say a little something about bacon drippings. Or, as we say in the south, bacon grease.
There is nothing whatsoever wrong with using a little bit of bacon grease once in a while. This recipe uses a very small amount, but what a lot of flavor that it adds to this dish!
And fat is fat is fat, you know. It all has the exact same calorie count. Butter, margarine, canola oil, bacon grease, schmaltz, whatever. Although I’m not saying anything about the cholesterol. After all, I’m a cook, not a nurse :-)
STEP 3. Add the diced tomatoes with their juice. Cook until the tomatoes have softened and the liquid has nearly evaporated (about 10 minutes).
STEP 4. Add the fresh or frozen (no need to thaw) okra and water. Stir well to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
STEP 5. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the okra is tender and cooked through (about 15 minutes). Check and stir often adding a small amount of additional water if needed during cooking.
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And I promise you that there is not the slightest amount of gooey slime in the final dish. Cross my heart.
🔀 Options and Variations
There are dozens of variations on stewed okra and tomatoes. Here are a few ideas:
- Add 1/2 cup chopped celery to saute with the onions.
- Add one cup of finely diced bell pepper.
- Substitute chicken broth for the water.
- One cup of drained, whole kernel corn makes the recipe into more of a vegetable stew.
- A clove of finely chopped garlic or 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder adds great flavor.
- For a spicy version, add a finely diced small jalapeno pepper or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
- Make it into a meal by adding cooked chicken or sausage. Serve over a bed of rice.
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🍚 Make Ahead and Storage Information
Stewed okra and tomatoes can be made up to two days in advance and kept stored in the refrigerator. Reheat over gentle heat before serving. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to two days.
❓ Questions About Okra and Tomatoes
In my experience, the okra definitely does not give this finished recipe a slimy texture. If you find that you do have that texture, try adding a teaspoon of vinegar (white, red wine, or apple cider) and stir it through. That should dramatically reduce any slime factor.
Yes, you can! However, when thawed the okra will have a slightly less firm texture than it did when freshly prepared.
🧾 More Recipes You’ll Like
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Southern Stewed Okra and Tomatoes
- 1 ½ teaspoons bacon drippings or butter or margarine
- 1 large onion chopped
- 29 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 pound whole fresh or frozen okra
- ½ cup water more as needed during cooking
- Salt and pepper
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and add the bacon drippings to the pan.
- When the bacon fat (or butter) has melted, add the chopped onion and sauté until it just begins to brown.
- Add the diced tomatoes with their juice. Cook until the tomatoes have softened and the liquid has nearly evaporated (about 10 minutes).
- Add the okra and water. Stir well to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the okra is tender and cooked through (about 15 minutes). Check and stir often adding a small amount of additional water if needed during cooking.
- When using frozen okra, there’s no need to thaw before adding to the pan.
- The recipe may be made up to two days in advance and kept stored in the refrigerator. Reheat over gentle heat before serving.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to two days.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
— This post was originally published on July 7, 2009. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.