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Southern Stewed Okra & Tomatoes

Southern stewed okra and tomatoes, also called smothered okra or okra gumbo, is an old fashioned Southern classic combo. Okra and tomatoes go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. The perfect match for a signature Southern  dish.

Okra and tomatoes may be served as a side dish, as a topping for cooked rice, or become the main meal with the addition of sausage – smoked sausage that is.

One thing that I’ve found is people either love okra or hate okra. One of the main reasons I hear that folks don’t like okra is that it’s slimy. Yes, okra does make slime, called mucilage, but that doesn’t mean that all okra recipes create a slimy mess. The mucilage of okra has an advantage when stewing, making soups or gumbo, because it acts as a natural thickening agent.

Southern okra and tomatoes have a great flavor and texture and I can assure you – not slimy. The mister says he could eat okra and tomatoes every day, with a dash of Tobasco® of course.

“What grows together, goes together”

Here’s a tip to cut the slime on okra – choose fresh small pods. Yes, you want the little ones. The bigger the okra pods are, they get tough and woody…..and more slimy. You’ll know when you get one that’s one the woody side because slicing it will not be easy. I go ahead and discard those pods.

Okra and Canned Tomatoes

Southern Okra & Tomatoes

The key to this dish is to keep it simple. It is simple ingredients with just the right seasonings cooked to perfection. By the way….don’t cook it to death. I know it’s “stewed” but there’s a limit to everything before turning it to mush.

Here’s what you’ll need: fresh okra, canned tomatoes and yes fresh are fine too, a Vidalia onion, bacon, some chicken or veggie stock and a few seasonings. Some folks like to add celery and bell pepper too. I didn’t have any on hand and it’s good without it too.

How to Make Classic Okra and Tomatoes with Bacon

Saute bacon to render drippings in a Biltmore cookware pan

Step 1: Cut bacon into pieces and saute until cooked through over medium heat. Remove the bacon pieces and reserve for later.

Saute diced Vidalia onion in bacon grease for smothered okra

Step 2: Next, add the diced onion to the bacon fat rendered and sauté until tender. See those brown bits from cooking the bacon stuck on the bottom of the pan? Those are flavor bits! As the onion cooks and releases moisture, scrape those bits from the pan to incorporate into the dish.

Tomatoes and Okra Southern Style

Southern okra and tomatoes cooking

Step 3: Next, add the canned tomatoes (or fresh diced if you have them) and the sliced okra to the skillet. Stir to mix everything together. If you’re adding other diced vegetables such as bell pepper and celery, add those in now too. Add the stock and seasonings. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes.

Cook’s Note: I used a large stainless pan to prepare this dish. A coated dutch oven or similar would also work great. I recommend that you not use cast iron. The acidity of the tomatoes is not a good match for your cast iron cookware. 

Classic Country Cooking Okra and Tomatoes

Vegetable Side topped with bacon in a vintage serving dish

You may also be interested in: Southern Skillet Fried Okra

classic okra and tomatoes

Let’s make Southern Stewed Okra & Tomatoes!

Yield: 8 Servings

Southern Stewed Okra & Tomatoes

Old fashioned classic Southern okra and tomatoes

Classic Southern okra and tomatoes are a savory and delicious side dish.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes


  • 4 Thick Slices of Bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 M/L Vidalia Onion, diced
  • 1 28 oz Can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1.5-2 lbs Fresh Okra, sliced
  • 2 c Vegetable or Chicken Stock
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Creole Seasoning


  1. Begin by sauteing the bacon pieces until browned over medium heat. Remove the cooked bacon and reserve for garnish later.
  2. Next, add the diced onion to the bacon fat rendered and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until softened.
  3. Next, add in the canned diced tomatoes with juice and the sliced okra. Stir to combine.
  4. Next, add the stock and seasonings. Stir to combine.
  5. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook (stew) for 20 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook.
  6. Serve hot topped with bacon pieces as a side dish or topped over cooked rice.

Nutrition Information:



Amount Per Serving: Calories: 103Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 359mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 7g
Southern okra and tomatoes - best signature side dish topped with bacon

Recipe shared at the Weekend Potluck

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Home » Southern Stewed Okra & Tomatoes

Meet Julia

Author of Julia's Simply Southern

Meet Julia

Author of Julia's Simply Southern

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Sandra Browning

Saturday 21st of September 2019

Hello, I just ran across your page. I am from Louisiana where we lived off fresh okra all our lives but I have moved to Idaho where the only okra you can find in a grocery store is so tough you can't even break the surface with your finger nail. I have resorted to having to use frozen okra. The problem is they cut everything to go into the frozen. Today, I sorted over 5oz of just ends because they are really tough and woody and inedible. I still ended up with some woody pieces and wondered if I need to sort out the one's with brown on the slices. I love okra and tomatoes and make it all the time, it is good for you and is very helpful in losing a little weight with something yummy. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks!

Julia Jordan

Sunday 22nd of September 2019

It would likely have more to do with the size of the slices...bigger ones are likely to be tough and woody. Those larger pods of okra are almost always tough. The smaller pods, therefore slices, are going to be the most tender and ideal. Good luck in your search for delicious okra! If you were closer I'd be glad to share some with you :)

Colleen - Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck

Friday 18th of May 2018

With all of that yummy bacon, how can I resist? Looks tasty!


Tuesday 15th of May 2018

It's always so much fun to see a down home recipe made just how it should be! Thanks for sharing with us at Fiesta Friday this week!


Julia Jordan

Tuesday 15th of May 2018

Mollie, Thank you :)

Amy (Savory Moments)

Monday 14th of May 2018

This looks so flavorful and really tasty! Thanks for linking to the Friday Frenzy!

Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Sunday 13th of May 2018

I am not a huge fan of okra, but I won't turn these down especially when there are tomatoes involved. :D Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday party! x

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