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Okra Cupcakes with Fennel Frosting

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After posting my recipe for oatmeal okra cookies seasoned with fennel, I’ve learned that some of you really hate okra.  Here’s a quote from one reader, CC Smith:

I find [okra] THE most repulsive veggie on earth, if you boil it then you have chicken snot, if you fry it, you have something that has cornmeal with whiskers underneath.  Maybe this is the recipe that will make me change my mind about okra.  That and a VERY large white Russian.

CC also compared fried okra to eating fried leg hair.  Gross!

While I expected okra to be polarizing, I was surprised at how many of you also don’t like fennel.  No one was quite as descriptive in their disgust as CC, but I was asked by several people if an alternative spice could be used in the cookies (the answer is yes – use whatever spice you love).

Luckily, not all of you hate okra!  Some, like Stephanie (who originally requested the okra cupcakes), love okra so much that they are all set to make the cookies right away. Others, like long time reader Rachel Dickson of Cupcakes and Journalism, were intrigued just enough to want to give it a try.  And, the okra cookies even got a twitter shout out from super star food blogger Steamy Kitchen.

If you are in the pro-okra and pro-fennel camp, you are going to love these cupcakes – keep reading.  If not, check out the recipe index for a flavor that you might like better. Either way, please share your stance on the two flavors in the comments.  Do you love them or hate them?


These okra cupcakes walk the thin line between cupcake and muffin.  Some tasters compared the okra cupcakes to zucchini bread, but I found them to be a bit lighter and sweeter than a typical breakfast bread (admittedly, they weren’t as sweet as a traditional cupcake).  While you could switch the fennel out for a different spice (as readers asked about with the cookies), the fennel may be the best part of these cupcakes.  The touch of fennel in the cake plus the fennel frosting make for a unique flavor, but fennel’s similarity to licorice and its refreshing aftertaste (fennel is even used to flavor toothpaste) makes it a fun flavor for a spring or summer garden party.  Have a cupcake instead of a breath mint, check your teeth for green okra bits, find your love, and steal a kiss or two behind a bush.

Okra Cupcake Recipe

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Okra Cupcakes with Fennel Frosting

Servings 12 cupcakes


Cupcake Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C ginger ale
  • 1 C pulverized raw okra okra that's been chopped and food processed so it looks like guacamole - I pulverized part of a defrosted bag of frozen okra

Fennel Frosting Ingredients*

  • 8 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1/2 C unsalted butter room temperature
  • 2 C powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground fennel


Cupcake Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, fennel, and ginger. Set aside.
  2. In another medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture one at a time.
  4. Alternately mix the flour mixture and the ginger ale into the wet ingredients until just combined.
  5. Fold in the okra.
  6. Divide batter evenly between 12 cupcake liners.
  7. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until cupcakes bounce back when lightly touched.
  8. Immediately remove hot cupcakes from tins and set on paper towels to remove moisture at the bottom of the wrappers. Don't be alarmed by the puddle of okra "pee" left behind in the cupcake tin - just rinse it off down the drain.

Fennel Frosting Instructions

  1. Mix cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Slowly mix in powdered sugar (add more than 2 C if you prefer a thicker frosting).
  3. Mix in fennel.
  4. Pipe or spread on cupcakes.

Recipe Notes

*Double frosting recipe if you like to use a lot of frosting.


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15 comments on “Okra Cupcakes with Fennel Frosting”

  1. Monicasays:

    I am willing to try it out. I like okra – usually only fried because of the slimey nature – but it sounds good to me.

  2. Nataliesays:

    I’m pro-okra (we make okra “fries”–baked okra) all summer long! I like fennel too so these are a win in my book!

  3. Rebeccasays:

    Okra is quite tasty when prepared correctly. But fennel is on my ICK list. I got it in my CSA organic veggies box last week and tried it again, and still cannot make myself enjoy it. Too bad they sent me 3 bulbs of it …

  4. nancysays:

    LOVE! I am thrilled and will be making these as soon as I get home from the store. I am a huge fan of okra and am delighted with the fennel pairing. Again, you won my heart.

  5. Benniesays:

    Do not like Okra.. And absolutely can’t stand fennel. BUT I would however be willing to try these if someone just gave them to me. But I wouldn’t purchase the ingredients to make them myself, as they would probably get thrown out XD

  6. Lorisays:

    Oof. This would likely be your most challenging cupcake for me, since I’m not a huge fan of okra and I detest the flavor of fennel. Having said that, I tend to like your more unusually-flavored recipes, so who knows?

  7. ccsmithsays:

    Ok, admittedly I was a litle harsh about Okra,(still think it’s really chicken snot & BBs) however,I LOVE fennel! Ohhhh,it’s like the crunchy, sweet marriage of bok choy and celery with a hint of licorice~ YUM! Personally, I think you have to be born into an okra eating family–no wait, that isn’t right, my Mom’s family liked okra-just those from my Mom’s generation (all death now- could that be related to their okra consumption?) We cousins now in our 60’s still gag at the thought of that vile veggie. Okra might be a “southern thang” as my Mom’s family was from Mo originally. Still 2 thumbs down on okra, bring on the fennel!!

  8. CCsmithsays:

    To be fair, I’m making your Oatmeal Okra cookies to take to a funeral luncheon. I figure the deceased will have no say and the mourners will be too polite to mention it if they don’t like the cookies. Those who like them will be surprised to know they are eating OKRA. :P

  9. Kamailesays:

    I HATE okra. I concur with CC’s opinion- snotty, hairy and gross. :P I do like fennel though. If I try these it will be more out of curiosities sake, but I don’t know if I could choke the cupcake down knowing there’s okra in it.

  10. Okra has a lot going for it, you just need to use it in the right way. Fennel, on the other hand, does nothing for me!


  11. Rachaelsays:

    Aw, thanks for the shout-out! I was just looking for a recipe to make for a friends’ birthday party tonight and I saw it.
    I’m very excited about making these but I’ll be honest, I’ll probably leave the fennel out – I really dislike the taste of licorice. I was introduced to okra in my childhood by a friend’s family – I’m from Texas so I’ve had it plenty of times since. I think it’s really just about how you cook it. I’ve had both good and bad okra. This should be fun!

  12. ValRieYABrosays:

    has anyone actually tried this recipe and comment it down?! cos im doing a project on okra (do not ask why) and need to bake a recipe…

  13. drakynsays:

    I am definitely pro-okra, but I steer clear of anything containing fennel…since I’m allergic to it (and cardamom, licorice and anise). My friend wanted me to make a savory cupcake and this hit the spot. I still haven’t found a decent substitution for the fennel though. I tried substituting with with baked elephant garlic paste and it turned out pretty well…

  14. Pattimeltsays:

    I.e. at okra raw. Washed, sliced lengthwise in half with bothe the ends cut off, sprinkled with salt and pepper. Yum! My grandchildren ages 5 &7 ate it sprinkled with just salt with no problemsor complaints. Try it raw and see if you change your mind about eating okra fresh from the garden.

    • Pattimeltsays:

      Sorry! My spell checker changed some words and spelling, hope you understood my posting about eating it raw straight from the garden.

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