Spicy Pickled Okra

5 from 12 votes
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For me, why pickle okra if it’s not spicy pickled okra? I love these pickles, but making sure your pickled okra is crunchy is tricky. Here’s how to go about it.

A plate with spicy pickled okra, pickled ramps and fennel.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Let’s start with the obvious: Spicy pickled okra is not slimy. No pickled okra is. The vinegar denatures the slime, leaving you with crunchy treats.

Incidentally, I grow a drought tolerant red okra, which is why my pickles are reddish green.

Crunchy Pickles

Crunchy. That’s the goal. Making any pickles crunchy requires a little boost. Some things need to be salted first to remove some excess water; cucumbers are like this.

Others can stand a little soak in pickling lime, an alkaline solution that can make pickled things really crunchy, or oddly chalky if you leave them in the lime too long.

More traditional methods are to add tannins using plants that grow all around us. The most common plants for making crunchy pickles are grape leaves, currant leaves and oak leaves. All work well, and I used grape leaves for these spicy okra pickles.

Choosing Okra for Pickles

You will want to use smallish okra for these spicy okra pickles because I pickle them whole. Since I grow a lot of okra plants, I choose pods that are just the right size for a pint jar. This is about four inches long. That way I can pack them cleanly.

I am not a fan of slicing okra for pickles because that opens them up to slime, which only goes away after boiling them with the vinegar solution. Doing this can render the okra soft, which I don’t like.

Looking for more okra recipes? I have lots. Okra stew, Lowcountry okra salad, Creole okra gumbo, roasted okra… yeah, I like okra.

Prepping Okra for Pickles

You need to prep your okra to make pickles.

First, top your okra. Remove the stem and much of the cap to the okra. What this does is expose soft tissue that you can use to get your pickling liquid inside your pods. Okra is hollow.

Red okra on a cutting board, with the stems removed.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Now use a needle or something similar to pierce the top of the okra in several places. This will allow the vinegar to get inside fully.

Piercing the tops of okra to make spicy okra pickles.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Now you’re ready to make okra pickles. If you are using a grape, currant or oak leaf, lay it into a pint jar.

Pack the okra into the jars. Pack them top to bottom, bottom to top, so you can get more in the jar with less air in between.

Okra packed into a pickle jar.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Boil your vinegar solution, then pour it over the okra. You will see it start to bubble, as the vinegar will be seeping into the pods. Here’s a short video of what it looks like.

This will lower the level of the vinegar, so you’ll need to pour in a bit more after a minute or three. Keep the vinegar hot while you do this.

After a while, the bubbling will subside. Fill the vinegar up to about 1 inch of the top of the jars, then close the lid.

Canning Spicy Pickled Okra

I keep my pickled okra in the fridge, where they will keep a year or so. But you can water-bath can spicy pickled okra, too.

Seal the lids and submerge in boiling water for 10 minutes. If you’re not familiar with water-bath canning, this means you need the jars to be in at least simmering water for 10 minutes. The temperature will drop when you put the jars in, so start counting when it returns to a simmer.

Also, if you are going to water bath can your spicy pickled okra, you must decide before you start because you will need to do it while the vinegar inside the jars is still hot. Otherwise the temperature difference can crack the jars. Ask me how I know…

If you liked this recipe, please leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below; I’d love to hear how everything went. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture and tag me at huntgathercook.

Spicy pickled okra on a plate with other pickles.
5 from 12 votes

Spicy Pickled Okra

This recipe can be as spicy as you want it. The heat of the chiles slowly seeps into the okra over time, and the boiling vinegar mellows it, so you can go hotter than you could if you were eating a fresh chile.
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 18 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 pound small okra, 3 to 4 inches long
  • 3 cups white or cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 3 to 6 habaneros, sliced in half (or other hot peppers)
  • 3 grape leaves, oak leaves or 12 currant leaves (optional)


  • Slice the stems off the okra, exposing the caps. Pierce those caps with a needle several times; this will let the vinegar seep in.
  • Bring the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and mustard seeds to a boil.
  • Tuck a grape leaf in each pint jar. Put a few pieces of cut hot pepper in the jar. Pack the okra in over it, top to bottom, bottom to top. Pack tightly.
  • Slowly pour in the hot vinegar until it covers the okra. If the okra starts floating, jam another pod in the jar to prevent this. It will start to bubble through those holes you pierced in the tops. Let this happen for a few minutes, then top off the jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.


  • If you are canning, submerge the jars in simmering water, then count off 10 minutes once the water returns to a simmer. Remove the jars to cool. Any whose lids don't seal properly should be kept in the fridge.


This recipe makes 3 pints.


Calories: 21kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.01g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 263mg | Potassium: 112mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 196IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 0.3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Can you use Bay leaves for the tannins? I’ve read they too have tannins but may not be in high enough concentration. But, they’re readily available in my kitchen, so just curious.

  2. Does water-bath canning makes them less crunchy? I like to make multiple jars of things when I make pickles and would love to have them in winter.
    Btw, I’m with you on okra. Can’t get enough of it but have a tough time growing it for some reason.

    1. Patty: Yes, a little. You might want to add a second grape or oak leaf in the jar for water bath canning.

  3. Hi! I am very partial to okra, too! It has become as hard as finding hen’s teeth to find good okra here in Raleigh, NC, crazy. On the off chance I do find some may I ask what kind of oak leaves you might use if necessary? Some species are toxic and we have so many kinds of oak trees here in North Carolina. (Not as many as we used to in Raleigh due to silly overdevelopment. Getting off soapbox now.)

    Thank you for your site! I sure enjoy it!

  4. Bookmarking this. My okra hasn’t flowered yet and I’m anxiously awaiting it. This is my first time growing it (Zone 4a). Thanks for the recipe.

  5. I always use grape leaves in my fermented cukes, but I never thought about using them for other styles of pickles! I’ll definitely have to give that a try in other recipes.

  6. For the okra placed in the jar top side down (holes facing down) wouldn’t you need to poke a hole or two in the skinny end to let the air out? In fact, I would think you should do it for all the okra.

  7. I asked this before, but don’t know where the comment went. What sort of oak leaf should be used? Any type of oak? Is Live oak fine or does it need to be a larger leaf like a white oak?

  8. If I’m not canning, how long would the okra need to be in the fridge before it’s pickled and ready to eat?

  9. Forgot to rate;)! We love okra in gumbo, hamburger soup, fried fritters, and in Maque Choux corn(mock shoe)-smothered corn. A spicy Cajun corn dish, from the Native Indians. I use what’s in season .

  10. Just share my old Ladybird Johnson’s recipe with someone earlier today. Will stir them to this one, too. It calls for jalapeño and grape leaves was my addition, but can use fresh or dried dill. I love spicy, so will try habaneros next time. Thanks Hank.

  11. I’m in Central Texas and we have all sorts of oak trees. Does it matter what oak leaf is used? Live, White, Red, Bur … ?

  12. This looks good. I Pickled three jars a couple weeks ago. In addition to habaneros, I had chile arbol, garlic and slices of onion. I will definitely try the grape leaves next time. Thanks for the great ideas!

  13. Was für eine tolle Idee, danke für das tolle Rezept.
    Muss ich unbedingt nachmachen, dass kann nur schmecken.
    Viele Grüße,
    What a great idea, thanks for the great recipe.
    I absolutely have to imitate it, it can only taste good.
    Many greetings,
    Jesse Gabriel

    1. Thanks Hank!! Just got done doing pickles now on to Okra. Thoughts on another pepper to change it up a bit?