An onion ring, also called a French fried onion ring, is a form of appetizer or side dish in British and American cuisine.
They generally consist of a cross-sectional “ring” of onion dipped in batter or bread crumbs and then deep fried – a variant is made with onion paste.
The crispy, delicious, slightly sweet, slightly savory finger-food is arguably the perfect side to any burger and even makes a logical, if not genius, burger condiment.
While typically served as a side dish, onion rings are often eaten by themselves.
Legend has it that French King Louis XI requested a new snack be made for him in 1469. He was presented with onion rings. He didn’t like them, and had their inventor killed. While this was the end of the inventor, thankfully, this was not the end of onion rings.
A British recipe from 1802 calls for cutting onions into slices, dipping them into a batter, adding Parmesan cheese, and deep frying them in lard. It suggests serving them with a sauce of melted butter and mustard.
Recipes for and references to deep-fried battered onion slices or rings are found across the 20th century: one in Middletown, New York in 1910 – another in a 1933 advertisement for Crisco.
Various restaurants claimed to have invented onion rings, including the Kirby’s Pig Stand restaurant chain, founded in Oak Cliff, Texas in the early 1920s.
In 1933, the American public was given the gift of a recipe for onion rings– then, a pretty much unknown delicacy. The recipe appeared in a Crisco oil advertisement in the New York Times Magazine. The instructions were to dip the sliced onions in milk, then cover them in flour and fry them.
Another onion ring story began in 1955. A man named Sam Quigley started a company based on the concept of creating products for the food service industry that would eliminate taking the work out of the kitchen and straight into flash fryers. He supplied restaurants with frozen, fry-n-serve hand breaded onion rings. In the beginning, he sold them out of his storefront in Nebraska but the business quickly boomed and his idea for a company was born.
In 1959, the demand for these special onion rings was so high that a factory was built to make them. Mechanized methods were introduced to make the onion ring-making process faster and more efficient.
Onion rings truly became popular however, in the 1960’s, when the A & W chain restaurant introduced the dish to its’ menus.
In 1978 McDonald’s began test-marketing their own version of deep fried onions, using chunks instead of rings and calling their “french fried chopped onion product” Onion Nuggets. But the nuggets didn’t make it
past the test stage, reputedly because they got cold too quickly. Restaurant onion rings, in general, were often criticized for being served cold – as well as for being limp and greasy.
There’s a lot to love about onion rings at Burger King, and there’s a good chance it’s the side you get with your burger. In fact, they might even be on top of your burger too. From the crisp, crunchy edges to the zesty sauce that are the driving force behind the fast-food restaurant’s onion rings, the alternative to fries is pretty popular. The onion ring has never quite been able to match the popularity of the more ubiquitous French fry.
To make truly copycat onion rings that resemble those of Burger King, you’ll want to follow the recipe from Food, which instructs you how to make the diced onion paste. It calls for medium white onions, breadcrumbs, milk, all-purpose flour, garlic powder, salt, and vegetable oil. Essentially, you combine the diced onions with half the breadcrumbs and a splash of milk. Once you have the paste, form ring shapes, place them onto a foil-lined baking sheet, and freeze them.
After they are frozen, heat your oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange your bowls for breading. In one bowl there should be flour and milk and another should have the garlic powder and breadcrumbs. To coat,
start with the milk and flour combo then dunk the rings in the breadcrumb mixture. Fry a few at a time for a minute and a half to three minutes. Once they’re golden brown, place on a paper towel to drain. It’s as easy as that.
A blooming onion is a whole onion that is cut in a shape of a flower and then battered and deep fried. This version of a fried onion was first served in the late 1980s in a chain restaurant in the United States.
On June 22, the US celebrates the irresistible deliciousness of onion rings—often by eating as many of them as possible.