Okra is an awesome vegetable with some impressive characteristics, but how do you cope when there is no okra around? Try these tasty and technical okra substitutes to set free your stew!
Okra is an awesome green vegetable that is paramount to the American Southern style of cooking. It can be used in so many different recipes from stews to side dishes, but what choices do you have when okra cannot be found? Don’t stress because this guide has compiled all the best okra substitutes to make the choice simple!
Uses for Okra
It has a grassy and sweet flavor that makes it an excellent addition to soups, stews, and sides. When cut open the okra releases a juice that helps to thicken soups and stews. That is why okra is the first choice of thickeners in the traditional Cajun dish of gumbo.
This vegetable is more than just a supporting ingredient; it can be a real star when roasted and served in a vegetable medley. A few common places you might find okra are:
- Seafood Gumbo
- Crispy Fried Okra
- Vegetable Curry
- Brunswick Stew
Nutritional Value of Okra
Okra is used not just for its flavors but for its health benefits, too. Okra is an excellent source of dietary fiber and it is also very high in vitamin C. If you are looking to substitute okra in a vegetable side dish you may want to consider how close in nutritional value the replacement vegetable is so you don’t miss out on powerful nutritional benefits.
How to Choose an Okra Substitute
The most important thing to consider when choosing a substitute for okra is whether you are using it as a thickener or not. If you need to smooth out a stew or gum up a gumbo you must use an okra swap that has thickening qualities.
If thickening is not a concern, your focus should be on flavor. If you want to replace okra and make an impressive vegetable side the most important thing to consider is how the swap will taste.
The 7 Best Okra Substitutes
|No.||Substitute Name||Use in Place of Okra as|
|2||Eggplant||Thickener, Vegetable Side|
|5||Green Beans||Vegetable Side|
1. Gumbo Filé
If you are cooking gumbo and can’t find okra this is your first choice substitute. For decades this spice meets thickener has been chefs’ go-to choice for an okra replacer in any form of gumbo. It is a powder made from dried sassafras tree leaves. This unique dried herb has a leafy flavor some people compare to root beer and thyme.
When mixed into a gumbo this dried herb does something amazing. With just a bit of this spice, you can achieve some serious thickening power! Use this swap not just in gumbos but in any stew wherein you want a flavor-packed thickener, much like okra.
Eggplant is an awesome and easy-to-find choice when it comes to okra substitutes. The eggplant is a purple vegetable with a spongy interior and a mild earthy flavor. It is a wonderfully versatile okra substitute that can be used in almost the same way as okra.
The amazing eggplant also has thickening power similar to that of the okra; when stewed this vegetable will break down into a stiffening mush that works well in a stew. Stew isn’t the only place this swap shines. Eggplant works as a vegetable side or an okra-like thickener. It even has similar dietary fiber to that of okra making this a great okra substitute.
This okra substitute is only for soups and stew but it is amazingly easy and almost always on hand already! A roux is a mixture of cooked butter and flour that has been widely used in soups and stews for centuries. Since both butter and flour are common pantry staples this thickener is often the quickest and simplest substitute for the thickening properties of okra.
A roux is a great choice for gumbo, stew, or soup. This substitute does not work for vegetable sides.
This vitamin C-rich ingredient can be a great choice as an okra substitute in soups and stews. Nopales are a type of cactus leaf that is commonly used in Mexican cuisine. Its texture is often compared to that of okra but with a sweet and citrusy flavor.
Nopales are often chosen in Mexican cuisine as a thickener because they stiffen up stews without adding additional scratch, just like okra. Their greenish hue even makes nopales look similar enough to okra to full people. Use nopales as an okra substitute in soups and stews, but its sweet flavor makes it less of a great choice as a side dish.
5. Green Beans
This common bean is the perfect choice for chefs looking to replace okra in a vegetable side dish. This easy-to-find vegetable can bring a little sparkle in place of the missing okra. The green and leafy flavor of these beans make them such a tasty swap for okra in medleys, roasted veggies dishes, and even cold vegetable salads.
Use green beans in hot and cold vegetable dishes when you would otherwise use okra as a 1:1 swap. The fresh vegetable flavor will satisfy your veggie cravings and they deliver very close levels of fiber and vitamins to the okra.
Cornstarch is a great choice to thicken hot dishes and can be used in place of okra in soups and stews. Cornstarch is the scratch from the corn grain and when mixed with water to make a slurry it can be added to stews and soups as a thickener. Cornstarch is commonly held in many pantries and it is an inexpensive swap for those in need of an okra substitute.
Cornstarch can be used in stews and soups, but it must be thoroughly cooked to avoid any grittiness in the dish. This is a good okra substitute in stews and soups but not in any other dishes.
If you want a lovely vegetable side dish but don’t have the okra you wanted, zucchini is a great choice. It has a crisp vegetable flavor with colors that range from yellow to green. Zucchini is easy to find and nice to enjoy cooked or raw.
Zucchini is the perfect vegetable for a roasted medley or cold vegetable salad. Zucchini will taste great in soups, stews, and gumbos but it does not have the thickening power of okra.
The Okra Substitute Best For Gumbo
Many Cajun chefs swear by the power of the gumbo filé. It brings both spice and stiffness to gumbo and can work as an excellent substitute for okra in this dish. If gumbo filé is not easy to find, you can save your gumbo or stew with a classic roux.
The Best Overall Okra Substitute
Only one okra substitute can really do it all and that is the eggplant. This vibrant veggie is the best overall substitute for okra because it works in soups, stews, and side dishes. This wonderfully versatile vegetable has a sponge texture that soaks up sauces and even tastes mild and pleasant on its own.
Eggplant can be sliced into the base of a gorgeous roasted Mediterranean vegetable medley or stewed into the perfect comfort dish. It is easy to find in stores worldwide and easier to work with. Try this okra substitute for a surprisingly hearty and delicious dish!