Easy Refrigerator Pickled Okra – Two Ways

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky!

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

I have two confessions to make:

  1. I am a terrible gardener (but I plant vegetables every year).
  2. I am afraid of canning (but I love pickles).

I’ve been utterly neglecting my garden since mid-June — seriously, I could count the number of times I’ve weeded and watered in the last two months on one hand.

It’s no surprise that I’ve only gotten one cucumber, three eggplants, a few banana peppers, and no zucchini, and only one of my four tomato plants have given me fruits this whole season.

So it’s pure luck that at this point in the year, I am getting okra, and abundantly! 

Okra pods in my garden, destined to be refrigerator pickled okra.

I may be a terrible gardener, but I did learn one thing from growing a single okra plant four years ago — one plant is not nearly enough.

You get one pod every few days per plant so it’s never enough for a recipe, unless you’re throwing that pod in with some extra okra from the store or the farmer’s market, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a vegetable garden.

So this year I got two pots of three seedlings each and separated them out. I now have six big, beautiful okra plants that just keep producing pods!

It’s pretty much my dream come true since, as a Southern girl, I love okra. You can read more about my passion for okra in my three meat and okra gumbo recipe post – Mmmm, it’s about time for some more of that soon!

And there’s always classic Southern fried okra if you’d rather!

I’ve just been accumulating okra, two to four pods at a time, every couple of days, until I end up with enough for a jar of this amazingly easy and delicious refrigerator pickled okra. 

Okra pods in my garden, destined to be refrigerator pickled okra.

I mentioned earlier I’m afraid of canning. I’ve never done “real” canning with the sterilization and the shelf-safe-ness and I’d be a bit afraid that I wouldn’t seal something properly and I’d end up poisoning myself with botulism from a poorly canned tomato sauce. (If anyone wants to prove me wrong, I’d welcome a great beginner’s resource for canning!)

People seem to can stuff when they have an overabundance of summer produce, so fortunately for me and my terrible gardening skills, I never have that problem. So for this recipe I opted for refrigerator okra pickles instead.

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

You don’t have to learn a new skill or buy any new equipment, and it’s perfect for small batches from non-abundant gardens. I used 12-15 okra pods, accumulated from my plants over the course of about a week and a half, for each jar of okra pickles. Really it was however many I could jam into an old, cleaned out spaghetti sauce jar.

How to make refrigerator pickled okra

This refrigerator pickled okra recipe works by first salting the okra and letting it sit in a colander. While it sits, you heat up some vinegar and spices. (Warning: do not take a whiff of said vinegar and spices to see if it smells good – hot vinegar fumes are painful to inhale! Ask me how I know. Instead, just dip your wooden spoon in the mixture, blow if off, and taste it.)

You rinse off your okra and stuff them in a jar. Since these are refrigerator pickles, you don’t need any fancy canning jars or sterilizing water baths or any of that other scary stuff that seems (to me) complicated and easy to mess up in a botulism-friendly way. 

All you need is a nice clean jar large enough to hold all the okra pickles you want to eat. So basically, a giant one.

Okay, this recipe is actually good for a spaghetti-sauce-sized jar but you could adjust it for a giant one.

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

Let the vinegar cool down a bit and pour it over the top of the okra until the jar is full. Screw on the lid and let it sit in the fridge for a couple days, and voila!

Okra pickles. Addictively delicious okra pickles. 

Making it your own

The best thing about this recipe is that the concept and process is the most important part, so you can mix up the flavors however you want.

That’s how I ended up with refrigerator pickled okra – TWO ways. I made one recipe, wanted to tweak it a little, and made it a second time using my altered recipe.

The first recipe (left) was sweet and tangy, using a mix of white vinegar and apple cider vinegar, combined with a little sugar.

The second time (right) I wanted to try something a little less sweet, so I opted for all white vinegar, much less sugar, and added a bit of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. 

I actually brought both jars of okra pickles to work because I couldn’t decide which one to post. I had several willing taste testers at work, two of whom preferred the sweet and tangy and one of whom preferred the hot and smoky — although all three testers wanted more tastes of both kinds. 

One said the sweet and tangy refrigerator pickled okra made her want a Bloody Mary. Another said it would be perfect with a charcuterie board. The smoky version? Good with jams and cheeses. Basically, make whichever one contrasts and complements your main event. But for stand-alone snacking, they were divided on their favorite version. I am craving a few more of the sweet-tangy ones myself.

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com

Feel free to mix it up with your own blend of vinegars and spices! I’d love to know what other versions you come up with!

Which okra would you prefer? Your call!

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Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. Make these okra pickles two ways — sweet and tangy or hot and smoky! | www.pinchmeimeating.com
5 from 3 votes

Refrigerator Pickled Okra (Two Ways)

Easy refrigerator pickled okra is perfect for small batches! No canning experience necessary. This recipe is for sweet and tangy okra pickles OR hot and smoky okra pickles!
Print Recipe Save Recipe
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Southern
Yield: 1 jar
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Time in the refrigerator:1 day
Total Time:20 minutes


  • 13-16 okra pods or however many will fit in a clean spaghetti sauce jar

For Sweet and Tangy Okra

  • 2 banana peppers sliced, seeds removed (optional)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed with the side of a knife but not cut
  • 3 tbsp sugar reduce for a less sweet pickle
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more for salting pods
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds

For Hot and Smoky Okra

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed with the side of a knife but not cut
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt plus more for salting pods
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper to taste


  • Trim stems off okra pods so the tops are flat, but the pod isn't opened up. Sprinkle with kosher salt and set aside in a colander, along with banana peppers (if making sweet and tangy version).
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  • Rinse off okra pods and pack tightly into a clean spaghetti sauce jar or other jar, along with banana peppers (if making sweet and tangy version).
  • Let vinegar mixture cool for about 10 minutes, then pour over the okra until the jar is full. If there is slightly too much liquid, make sure you get all the “good stuff” in the jar before disposing of any excess vinegar.
  • Screw on the top and refrigerate for 48 hours. Enjoy!


Keeps, refrigerated, for at least 2 weeks.
For sweet and tangy okra:
Serve with a charcuterie board, bloody Mary, or straight out of the jar.
For hot and smoky okra:
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper gives these pickles a very mild kick. Adjust the amount to your desired level of spiciness.
Serve with jam and cheese hors d’oeuvres, or straight out of the jar as a snack.
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  1. Hi Caroline, I really enjoy your pickled okra. I have an abundance of okra and I was wondering if it would be alright if I pickled a lot and set the ones that I was not going eat right away in the pantry. Taking them out as I was going to use them and letting them set in the refrigerator for 48 hrs before eating.

    1. Hi Elyse, so glad you like the pickled okra! This recipe is not shelf stable, which is why it’s a “refrigerator pickle” recipe – it must stay refrigerated the whole time so it doesn’t spoil. You’ll need to use a traditional canning method if you want to keep your okra in the pantry!

  2. We had an unexpected glut of okra and I searched for a good pickle recipe. Most were so labour intensive, I was about to give up – then found this one! Some of them were large but in they went. Have just tried them and they are out of this world. Thank you so much for the brill recipe.

    (From Australia)

  3. Will try Hot n’ Smokey. I think I would just add the smoked paprika directly into the jar, doesn’t need to be cooked. Also can mix your liquids with salt and sugar and divide in half in 2 separate pans and put all the spices in one which will go completely in with okra and then add what you need from the other pot to fill. Might also toast mustard seeds a little before adding

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you for this recipe! I’m growing okra for the first time this year and needed a small batch recipe. I’ve made several batches now. I had jalepenos so I substituted the banana peppers for one sliced jalapeno with seeds and added 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes. I’m am so pleased with the results and the ease of the process.

  5. how long do these last for in the refrigerator i have a little more than the one jar worth but dont want to make them all this way if they will not last long enough

  6. If you want to start canning, look at The Joy of Cooking or Putting Food By- both are good resources for getting started.
    Local Agricultural extensions often have resources as well.

  7. My sweet and tangy okras are on the table as I type this. I didn’t have everything so I improvised using pickling spice and sucralose for sweetener. When I tasted the liquid it was totally yummy and I can’t wait to try them when they’re ready.

  8. I just add peeled and cut up cucumbers to the brine from an almost empty jar of store-bought pickles. In a few days more delicious pickles. Trying it with okra.

    1. I was wondering about doing that with the leftover brine from an amazing batch of farmer’s market giardiniera (sp) as well as some store pickles, and was thinking that bringing it to a boil them covering the okra might be a good idea. How did your cucumbers turn out?

  9. I just made the sweet and tangy ones. I’m waiting for the vinegar mixture to cool, but I did taste it and I can’t even taste the sugar. I used the measurements you called for. So for the second batch, I’ve added more sugar. We’ll see how those turn out.

  10. 5 stars
    Thanks Caroline. Great recipe! Tried both ways.
    Being a southern man, the recipe worked wonderful with boiled eggs as well.

  11. 5 stars
    If you want to can properly, watch Julia Child’s old TV shows on YouTube.
    Also her cookbooks are the best and worth every penny bcs they even tell you what utensils etc you need BEFORE the ingredients!!! Pictures show everything.

  12. Hello, Caroline! I only began canning about eight years ago when I got a little carried away with my garden, which used to be our front yard. I has herbs, and everything from asparagus to artichokes; many varieties of beans (I recommend Blue Lake and Chinese long beans) peanuts, broccoli, summer and winter squash, and tomatoes. 24 indeterminate varieties of tomatoes b onions, leeks, potatoes, ad infinitum. The best canning book I found was the Ball guide to canning. It is idiot-proof! Just follow the directions. I made not only canned veggies, but jellies, jams, preserves (we have acres of wild blackberries!) and spicy tomato-garlic preserves, which are excellent for gifts. We eat it on cheese crackers. I also made mint jelly, the mint grows wild here, for lamb chops and roasts. Give it a try. If canning was that difficult, our great grandmothers would have killed everyone! Good luck! Mary-Margaret

    1. Thanks so much, Mary-Margaret! I will have to give it a shot. I’d love to actually can some things like extra lemon curd and pickles so I don’t have to store them in my fridge all the time. I have a vintage canning and preserving cookbook I may try out, and I’ll have to check out the Ball guide as well! I love what you said about our great-grandmothers – so true!

    2. I hope this finds you well Mary-Margaret Swofford, something you said caught my eye, mmmmm spicy tomato-garlic preserves, may I ask do you have a recipe? I would love to get someones recipe for that, for my family, thanks in advance

  13. 4 stars
    I just made my first batch. I took a little from your recipe and another. I made the spicy ones. Can’t wait to try.

  14. 5 stars
    Hi Caroline!
    I’m with you on the stressful canning botulism, however, with a little knowledge I think your stress levels will go down and you will enjoy preserving foods! I like to use a water bath to make high-acid products like pickles and okra. A water bath is just a big pot of boiling water- no pressure! I like to use the University of Tennessee’s publications because their information is based on tested research. Here’s a link with canning information: https://extension.tennessee.edu/publications/Documents/PB724.pdf

    Hope you find that useful! Happy canning!

    1. Thanks for the link! I will have to check that out soon – I’m starting to get baby okra pods in my garden again! I’d love to get into more traditional preserving.

  15. 5 stars
    I love the pictures you have up for this recipe. They are so helpful in understanding every step of the process. I am a visual learner so its great to be able to cross reference and know I’m not making any mistakes! Thank you for sharing this great recipe, I can’t wait to try it at home!

  16. We ate our first last night and they are great! I actually might add more sugar as I think a bit more sweetness would be especially good with cheese. But just as tart pickles, they are perfect as is! Love this recipe!

  17. I’ve never ever tried okra! Can you eat it raw? What does it taste like? Yeah I know what you mean about the botulism – I was scared too, but my homemade jam turned out well and we are still alive so I am guessing all was good! 🙂

    1. Hi Julia! You could probably eat it raw but my favorite ways to eat okra are pickled, in gumbo (you can find my gumbo recipe on the blog), fried, and as part of an okra/tomatoes/corn/onions side dish. So good!! Fried in cornmeal and spices is probably the easiest way to ease into eating okra – there can be a sliminess to it that turns some people off when it’s in soups and stuff, but I can’t get enough of it! Whereabouts do you live? I suppose it’s not uncommon for non-Southerners not to have tried it.

      Glad your jam turned out well! Do you have any canning resources you could point me to?

      1. I am a ‘Nawlins Creole, living in Mexico. I used to be able to get talk ‘o Texas brand pickled okra and used it in my gumbo. Now nobody has it. So trying this and growing my own okra. Will save a ton of money this way, imported talk o texas was expensive. If all goes well, will make Gumbo later this week!

  18. Heading to the farmers market in about 45 minutes. Okra is first in the list, and sweet and tangy pickles will be mine by Tuesday! While I am not afraid of canning, one jar at a time is perfect for me. I also make a microwave-version if bread and butter pieces you might like! It’s on Cocoa & Lavender! xx

    1. 4 stars
      You’ve got okra in those jars that I would bet were never eaten because they were so woody. Pickled okra
      works best with pods no longer than 3-4 inches. Look at the commercially available jars and you’ll see what
      I mean. Much longer than this then the ribs become more and more fibrous and soon reach the point of being inedible.
      Just walking through the garden and picking off okra pods near the top of plants that are about the size of your thumb
      makes for great nibbling raw.

      1. The smaller ones are definitely more tender! But I find they can still be ok to eat even if they’re a little above that optimal range of length – I assure you none of the ones in these batches went to waste! Sometimes I miss the best day to harvest them from my garden and by the day after the pods are like two inches longer. It’s crazy how fast they grow! Definitely if you are picking through a bin at the farmer’s market or the store, pick the okra that is 3-4 inches long!

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