How to Make Onion Rings

No need to head to a restaurant to order fried onion rings! You can make them at home -- all you need is a little know-how (and some friends to share them with).


Crisp and savory on the outside, sweet and silky on the inside, and hot all the way through, onion rings rank among the most addictive appetizers. To learn how to make them yourself, just follow these step-by-step directions.

French or American?

Classic onion rings are made from onions that have been sliced, separated into rings, dipped into a batter, and then deep fried. Sometimes onion rings are called "French fried onion rings." However, fried onion rings are not something you're likely to find while poking around Paris. While there's no clear consensus on where onion rings originated, they've become a quintessential American steakhouse and bar-grill specialty. They're often served as appetizers, or as side dishes and garnishes to meaty specialties such as steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Onions rings are also popular in Great Britain, Australia, and some parts of Asia.

Equipment for Onion Rings

Homemade onion rings don't require special equipment. A deep fryer is ideal, however, because it allows you to set and regulate an exact frying temperature. You can get by just fine with a large deep skillet and a frying thermometer.

Safety First when Frying Onion Rings

The cooking oil for frying onions reaches very high temperatures, which can start fires or cause burns if you aren't careful. Before you roll up your sleeves to make onion rings, review a few safety guidelines.

  • Have a kitchen fire extinguisher handy (and learn now to use it!) before you begin.
  • Avoid letting water come into contact with the hot oil -- the water will vaporize into steam, which can make the oil spatter and cause burns. 
  • Never use water to put out a grease fire. Use a kitchen fire extinguisher, or cover the fire with a metal lid.
  • Always add oil to a cold fryer (that is turned off) or an unheated pan. Make sure any fryer or pan you use is dry and set away from sources of water.
  • Never leave the fryer or pan unattended when it is in use.
  • When finished frying, turn off and unplug the fryer (or remove the pan from the heat). Make sure the fryer or pan is completely cool before cleaning.
  • Once oil is completely cooled, pour it into a resealable container and discard it in the trash. Never pour it down the drain, as it can harden and clog pipes.

Which Onions to Use for Homemade Onion Rings?

You can use white or yellow onions to make onion rings. Keep in mind that white onions are generally more pungent than yellow onions. If you are a fan of sweet onions, consider Maui, Vidalia, or Walla Walla onions, which are usually available during the spring and summer. Outside of those seasons, try Oso Sweet or Rio Sweet onions; these yellow onions hail from South America and are available during fall and winter.

How to Make Onion Rings

This classic recipe for onion rings will serve six as an appetizer.

1. Gather the Ingredients

You'll need:

  • 4 medium mild yellow or white onions (1-1/4 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for deep frying
  • Salt
  • Dipping sauce such as Chipotle Ketchup or Curried Aioli (see recipes below)

2. Cut the Onions

Using a chef's knife or sharp thin-blade knife, slice off the stem and root ends of each onion. Remove the peel. Slice each onion crosswise 1/4 inch thick. Separate the onions into rings.  

3. Make the Batter

In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour, milk, egg, the 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and the 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using a whisk or rotary beater, beat until just smooth.

4. Batter and Fry the Onion Rings

  • In a deep-fat fryer or large deep skillet, heat 1 inch oil to 365 degrees F.
  • Using a fork, dip onion rings into the batter. Drain off the excess batter.

Tip: You might need to stir the last few onion slices into the batter to coat them entirely.

  • Fry the onion rings, a few at a time, in a single layer in hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden, stirring once or twice with a fork to separate the rings.
  • Remove the onion rings from the oil. Drain on paper towels.
  • Sprinkle with additional salt and serve warm.

Great Go-Withs

Although onion rings can be savored solo, ketchup is a classic dipping sauce. Also try one of these gourmet dippers:

  • Chipotle Ketchup: In a small bowl stir together 1 cup ketchup and 2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce.

Tip: Extra chipotle chile peppers can be frozen. Place in freezer containers; cover with adobo sauce. Seal, label, and freeze for up to 2 months.

  • Curried Aioli: In a medium bowl stir together 1/2 cup mayonnaise; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 1 teaspoon lemon juice; and 1/2 teaspoon curry powder. Slowly drizzle 1/3 cup olive oil in a thin stream into the mayonnaise mixture, whisking constantly
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