Image: flickr.com, Edsel Little.
Onion rings are one of the most popular appetizers on American menus. The crispy, golden-brown delights instantly bring about satisfaction once you bite into the crunchy outside and penetrate the soft onion on the inside.
While your local pub or favorite chain restaurant probably has “the best” onion rings, in your opinion, it is reported that more people are ordering onion rings much less these days, due to the pandemic, and instead are making them more often at home. Whether you’re using an air fryer or a good old-fashioned vat of oil, we all come face-to-face with the same common problems. Here are a few ways you can leap over these hurdles and make the perfect onion rings!
The Problem: “The batter keeps falling off my onion rings when I cook them. Help!”
The Fix: Make sure the batter is cold. Very cold. This helps it stick to the onion rings when you fry them. As the rings hit the boiling oil, the contrast from the cold batter lets it adhere to the onion rather than having the coating slough away.
Problem: “I love onion rings but need to cut back on the calories. How can I enjoy them in a healthier way?”
The Fix: There are a couple of things you can do here. Try a low-fat cooking spray to resolve the issue of grease-soaked onion rings. Trade out whole milk for skim or almond milk, and regular flour for coconut flour. Bake in the oven at 450F for 15-20 minutes instead of deep-frying.
The Problem: “I prefer sweeter onion, as opposed to savory. What should I use?”
The Fix: Consider using Maui, Vidalia, or Walla Walla onions. These onions lack the sharp, astringent taste that other onions have and really do taste sweet. (Fun fact: The Vidalia’s sweet flavor is due to the low amount of sulfur in the soil in which the onions are grown in Georgia.)
The Problem: “My onion rings still come out a little bitter. Why?”
The Fix: If you don’t want to go with traditionally sweet onions, like the ones mentioned above, most any white or yellow onions will do. Soak them in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes. This step dilutes the sulfur content and helps soften them, mellowing out any harsh bite without it being overly sweet.
The Problem: “There’s nothing worse than a soggy onion ring. How do I make them super crunchy?”
The Fix: Double dip using buttermilk! Buttermilk not only makes it more flavorful because of the high fat content, but it is also slightly acidic, so when combined with the other ingredients, it creates a fluffier batter. This allows the rings to crisp up really well when it hits the oil.
The Problem: “We always cook too many. How can we re-heat them the next day and still keep the coating intact?”
The Fix: Microwave the onion rings for 10 seconds at a time so the middle gets warm. Toss them in a large skillet that is lightly coated with cooking spray – no need to add excess oil – and cook for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately (so you don’t have to repeat the process again).