Onion Rings

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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!)

Onion Rings Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Onion marinating time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

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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.

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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.

onion-rings-method-2

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.

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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.

Serve immediately.

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.

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Links:

How to Slice an Onion

Showing 4 of 12 Comments

  • Sabrina C.

    I made these delicious Onion Rings, eating them right now, so good!, I made some modifications, had no milk or plain yogurt, so I used the flour/ cornmeal mixture (added extra 1/4 c cornmeal), and dipped my onions in egg. Still came out perfect, light and crispy. I added the tsp salt to my flour mixture, and it was the perfect amount to season the rings, sprinkling salt on them after frying would simply be to much sodium, and I’m sure they’d taste to salty. Great recipe starting point for me, next time I’ll follow the recipe exact.

  • Maria

    I made this but cut the onions 1/8 and 1/4 inches thick. Very light and delish! Will definitely be making these again. I sprinkled salt on the papertowels before putting the fried rings to drain and also sprinkled them with a bit of salt. Really helped bring out the flavor.

  • Heather

    Hello All,
    Well it’s quite a few years since this recipe was originally posted. I have read the recipe and made my own GLUTEN FREE-DAIRY FREE solution. My daughter is both, so I had to find something yummy that we could both do together. I had no time in between reading this recipe and saving it, and the BBQ that made me famous for it!!!

    I got some heavy duty foil, oiled it with corn oil (she’s allergic to olive oil), and then kept that aside.

    I got a small bowl and filled it with soy milk.
    In another bowl I filled it with rice flour, black pepper, some green herbs (of choice).

    Then I sliced red onions (sweeter) to just under 1/4 inch.

    I dredged the onion rings, concentrically sliced slabs, into the soy milk, then carefully laid them onto the flour mixture.

    With a spoon I covered the tops of them with the flour.

    Then I scooped them out, and laid them on the oiled foil.

    I wrapped the foil like a waterproof package, top folded first tightly, then rolled up the ends keeping the air out as I went.

    I put the packages on the BBQ from the get go, so they had at least 20 minutes on there.

    When it was time to check for doneness of them and the other veggies I had packed,

    THEY WERE PERFECT.

    They looked deep fried! Crusty, caramelized onions!!

    This was the first time I had tried such a stunt, and it worked wonderfully!

    I posted this, to show others that batter foods do well on the BBQ. You just have to experiment.
    The family was jazzed at it’s success!!

    AND THEY WERE SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!

    Enjoy!

  • Kkitchenwitch

    Wanted to serve something other than french fries with home made hamburgers, looked for an onion rings recipe and this one appealed to me because of the reference to the memory of the Bob’s Big Boy rings. (In the first job I ever had, I was assigned to make the Bob’s Big Boy rings according to their recipe instructions with pre-mixed ingredients. Maybe I’m biased, but I agree that Bob’s were the best ever! And with Ina’s recipe, I was able to duplicate the same taste and crunch, with fewer calories I’m sure.) The recipe was easy to follow, though I reduced quantities to accommodate enough for just 2 servings, and added 1 teaspoon of Tabasco Sauce for fun. Prep and cooking times were minimal. Nothing but rave reviews from my husband, and I certainly consider it a saver!

  • Saumya

    Hey Hi,

    I live in India. Are corn meal and corn flour the same?

    Corn meal is grainy. It isn’t as finely ground as corn flour. ~Elise

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