Coating onion rings in batter and frying them in hot oil won’t necessarily convert those who usually steer clear of the pungent bulb, but it does elevate a supporting aromatic to a leading role. The cooking takes a matter of minutes, but soak the onions first to make them tender.
Start to Finish: 35 minutesServings: 4Difficulty Level: Novice
- 2 large onions
- 2 cups milk or buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ½ cup cornstarch (optional)
- 1 tablespoon Cayenne pepper or paprika
- 1 tablespoon baking powder (optional)
- Vegetable oil
- 1 cup breadcrumbs (optional)
Step 1: Cut the Rings
Peel the onions and cut them horizontally into rounds, each about ½-inch thick. Pull apart the rounds to release the rings.
Step 2: Soak to Soften
Whisk milk or buttermilk with the egg and soak the onion rings for 30 minutes. Soaking the onion neutralizes the harsher flavors, softens the rings and brings out the sweetness. The egg will help in binding the batter.
Step 3: Coat in Flour
Cover the bottom of a shallow dish with the flour and spices and toss each onion ring in the flour, shaking off any excess liquid as you remove it from the milk.
Step 4: Fry in Hot Oil
Transfer each ring immediately to a deep-fat fryer or heavy metal pot filled a third of the way with vegetable oil heated to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 5: Work in Batches
Fry the rings for three to five minutes until golden, turning occasionally but watching out for spitting oil. Be careful not to overcrowd the fryer or the rings will bring down the temperature of the oil and the texture will be soggy rather than crisp.
Step 6: Keep Rings Warm
Spread out each batch of cooked onion rings on a baking sheet and keep in an oven preheated to around 250 degrees so that they stay warm and crisp while the other batches are completed.
Build a more robust batter as an alternative to the simple flour coating by mixing the flour with roughly half as much cornmeal and cornstarch with a couple of tablespoons of baking powder for airiness. Dredge the onion rings in the flour first, then the batter mix. The cornstarch helps with the crispiness, while cornmeal gives it substance.
For beer batter rings, whisk flour, cornstarch, a 12-ounce can of beer, 1 ½ cups of sparkling water and a large egg. Dip the onion rings in the batter and fry immediately.
Soak the onion rings in the buttermilk, toss them first in a dish of flour, dip them in a bowl of beaten egg and toss in a dish of breadcrumbs.
Arrange the onion rings in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes at 390 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, turning them halfway through. Baked onion rings eliminate the calories from oil, but since the onion steams rather than fries, the texture is not as indulgent.
Dip onion rings in ketchup, mayonnaise or ranch sauce or incorporate them into a burger instead of standard fried onions.