Best Okra Substitutes: Top 11 Alternatives


Okra is not the type of ingredient you can find worldwide so you might run out of it while you still need it for certain recipes. But if this happens you don’t have to panic.

We gathered some substitutes you can use instead of okra so your food will still turn out deliciously. This seasoning is commonly used to add a natural thickness to different dishes. It is mostly used to make the traditional gumbo from Louisiana.

Nowadays, okra is a common ingredient in soups and stews when you want to enjoy a thicker consistency. One of the best substitutes for okra is cornstarch. However, you can replace it with file powder, arrowroot, or even zucchini.

Keep reading to find many other substitutes for okra that you will love to have in your food.

Best Okra Substitutes 

The following substitutes are not only great replacements for okra in different dishes. They also add a unique flavor to your food, so give them a try!

1. Cornstarch

Corn starch

Cornstarch is a great substitute for okra if you want to obtain a thicker soup or stew. It is very similar to flour so it will not alter the taste of your food. It is easy to find and you can add only a teaspoon of it in order to thicken your dish.

It is also gluten-free. Therefore, if that is an important aspect to you, you can consider this substitute. Use cornstarch in all types of dishes that call for okra and you will get the same thick consistency that okra provides.

2. File powder

File powder should definitely be one of your main options as well when you are looking for the best substitute for okra. This powder is another common ingredient in gumbo and it is usually used along with okra.

However, you can use file powder by itself in many other dishes instead of okra. You can make a delicious gumbo without okra, by simply using file powder.

This powder is made of dried leaves of the sassafras tree. You can use it in smaller quantities to season soups, stews, gumbo, and any other dish you want to get in a thicker consistency.

3. Zucchini


Zucchini might be the handiest substitute for okra as you can find it almost all over the world at decent prices. This fruit (yes, zucchini is a fruit) can replace many ingredients in a variety of dishes and you can cook it in several ways as well.

The best way to use zucchini instead of okra is as a side dish. However, you can also use it in soups and stews as it gives them a better flavor. If you want to grow zucchini, you will be glad to discover that it is fairly easy to grow it in your garden.

4. Arrowroot


Arrowroot can also make for a great substitute when you don’t have okra in your kitchen. It might be hard to find this substitute in all stores. But if you get it, you will most probably love the results.

This arrowroot is a flour-like powder that is gained by drying the root of a tropical plant. It has no flavor so you don’t have to worry about it changing the taste of your food at all.

However, only a teaspoon of arrowroot will increase the thickness of your soup or stew and you can use it in any type of dish that calls for okra.

5. Green beans

Green beans are some of the most nutritious alternatives to okra but you can use them to simply add some interesting taste to your meal as well. They are packed with health benefits and you can find them all year round in most supermarkets.

Green beans will give a slightly crunchy consistency to your food and they will taste great in most dishes. This substitute also thickens any recipe you add them to. 

6. Asparagus

Few people know that asparagus can thicken most recipes and it is easy to grow it as well if you don’t find it in stores. However, chances are most stores have this delicious vegetable as it is more common than okra.

You can cook asparagus in a variety of ways. You can boil it, grill it, fry it or use it in stews, soups, etc. Asparagus won’t taste the same as okra but it will add a tasty flavor to your foods regardless of how you cook it.

7. Roux


Roux is actually a mix of butter and flour. You can use it to replace okra in many recipes. You can make this mix at home by using equal parts of flour and butter and you will not have to add anything else. Mix these ingredients together until you get a creamy texture.

Lastly, add it to your soup or stew as you need. You will not have to add more than a tablespoon to thicken the texture of your dish. On top of that, the butter will give your food a tasty flavor as well. 

8. Broccoli florets


Broccoli florets are tasty raw or cooked in different ways. You can add them to everything from salads to pasta and soups as well as complex stews and baked dishes.

The best way to use broccoli instead of okra is as a side dish. It pairs well with fish and meats and it is also a healthy option that you can make. If you use it in soups or stews, broccoli will not thicken its consistency but it will give it a different flavor that you might like.

9. Eggplants


Eggplant is also a great replacement for okra if you need to use it as a side dish. Eggplants will taste great on the grill or baked in the oven. You can add them to pasta and different salads once you cooked them.

They are not so tasty raw so you want to prepare them in some way before adding them to your dish. You will also notice that cooked eggplants have a texture that is similar to okra.

10. Nopales

If you like Mexican cuisine, you most likely know about nopales. It is a common cactus in Mexico and it also goes by the name of prickly pear.

The taste of nopales is a mix of tart and bitter that will go great in stews and soups. This is also a great substitute for okra in soups and other dishes you want to prepare thicker in texture. You will notice your dishes will taste different but they will be delicious.

11. Lentils

Green lentils

Lentils, just like green beans, can boost the thickness of your stew or soup if you don’t have okra. You can boil them separately and afterward add them to your dish. Or you can add them with the rest of the ingredients as they will cook along nicely.

There are different types of lentils you can use. Thus, choose the one that you prefer from red lentils, green or brown lentils. 

What Vegetable is Most Similar to Okra?

If you are looking for a vegetable that can replace okra perfectly as a side dish, you can always choose eggplants. Eggplants resemble okra’s texture once they are cooked so you will love them with most of your dishes.

Broccoli and asparagus can also substitute okra as a vegetable in most recipes even if the taste you obtain will be slightly different.

How Do You Thicken Gumbo Without Okra?

Gumbo is essentially a soup that comes from Louisiana. It generally contains a type of meat, celery, bell peppers, and onion as well as okra and file powder as thickening agents.

However, if you don’t have okra you don’t need to worry. You can simply replace the okra quantity with file powder. Basically, you will be applying a double quantity of this powder. Your gumbo should turn out just as delicious even without gumbo.


Okra might be useful as a thickening agent in many dishes but that doesn’t mean that you can’t cook without it. Use one of the substitutes above to get the tasty foods you want without okra and you will not regret it.

Some of the ingredients like green beans or broccoli taste so good that you might start adding them to even more dishes.

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