When I was a kid growing up in Los Angeles, my grandmother used to take me to the farmers market in Miracle Mile. After the market, we would walk over to Bob’s Big Boy and order a serving of fried onion rings.
We probably ordered hamburgers too, but all I remember to this day was how much I loved those onion rings. As far as I knew at age five or six, Bob’s was the only place on the planet to get them.
I still love onion rings, don’t you? This recipe is as close as I can get to my memory of my favorite onion rings—crunchy and delicious.
We adapted the recipe from one by Ina Garten. The main changes we made were to double dip the onion rings in buttermilk and flour to make them extra crunchy, and to fry them at a slightly higher temp. We also increased the proportion of cornmeal. (Crunch factor!)
- 2 large yellow onions, peeled, sliced into 1/2-inch thick ringed slices, rings separated (See How to Slice an Onion)
- 2 cups buttermilk, or 1 cup plain yogurt mixed with 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cornmeal
- 3 cups of canola oil, or other high smoke-point oil such as rice bran oil or peanut oil
Equipment needed: a 5-quart heavy-bottomed dutch oven, tongs, candy thermometer or instant read thermometer, paper towels, cookie sheets
1 Coat the onion rings in seasoned buttermilk: In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk (or yogurt and milk) with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.
Stir the onions into the buttermilk mixture and make sure every ring is completely coated in buttermilk. Let sit for 15 to 30 minutes.
2 Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper in separate bowl: In a separate bowl (large enough to dredge the onion rings) whisk together the flour and cornmeal, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and set aside.
3 Heat oil in thick-bottomed pot: Add 2 to 3 cups of oil to a large (5 to 6-quart), thick-bottomed pot. (Make sure that the pot is absolutely dry on the inside before adding the oil or any residual water will splatter as the oil heats.) Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pot by 3/4 to 1 inch.
Heat the oil to 375°F. Use a good candy thermometer or instant thermometer (such as a Thermapen) to measure the heat of the oil. You may need to tilt the pan in order to cover the thermometer's sensor completely and get an accurate reading.
Be very careful whenever handling hot oil. No running kids in the kitchen. No distractions. Do not answer the phone if it rings. Pay attention. Have the pan's lid close by.
Test the oil by dropping a small pinch of flour into the hot oil. If the flour sizzles the oil is ready. If it burns, remove the pot from the heat and let the oil cool down a little.
4 Dredge the buttermilk coated onion rings in the flour mixture (twice): Remove onion rings one at a time out of the buttermilk mixture and dredge them in the flour mixture to coat.
If the coating seems a bit thin (it might) or if you want extra crunchy onion rings, dip the onion rings again in the buttermilk mixture and dredge them again in the flour. This double coating will make the onion rings extra crunchy.
5 Fry in oil: Use tongs to place the rings one by one into the hot oil. Fry for a minute on each side, until golden brown.
When you add the onion rings to the pot, the oil temperature will naturally lower. Adjust the heat so that the temperature of the oil in the pan stays between 350°F and 390°F.
6 Keep warm in oven: Place the fried onion rings on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Keep the fried onion rings warm in a 200°F oven while you fry the rest of the rings.
Add more oil if needed between batches. Let the oil heat back up to 375°F before starting a new batch.
Note: It's best not to pour the leftover oil down the drain. Better to pour into an extra empty jar, and discard with your trash.