A Debated History of Onion Rings (Plus An Easy Recipe to Try)
Onion rings: These golden circles of goodness have been a burger restaurant staple for as long as most of us can remember. But have you ever stopped to wonder where they came from? Or how they became the perfect sidekick to a juicy burger (move over, french fries)?
Join us in peeling back the layers of onion ring history.
Who Invented the Onion Ring?
Fried vegetables are popular all over the world, so it’s hard to credit a single genius for the invention of onion rings. Still, we can give credit to a few fry-o-neers.
If you’re a fan of Indian food, you’ve probably tasted the pakora: a spiced fritter made by coating vegetables (onions, cauliflower, eggplant, etc.) in chickpea flour and deep-frying them. The recipe goes back a few centuries and is popular all over the world today. Whether or not the onion ring was born in India, we gotta give them props for understanding the beauty of fried onions.
Searching for the roots of onion rings might also lead some OREs (onion ring experts) to a British recipe published in 1802 in the cookbook The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined. John Mollard’s recipe for “Fried Onions with Parmezan Cheese” is a lot like modern ones-- it just sounds a little fancier.
Now, let’s bring it home to North America where, unsurprisingly, multiple American restaurants claim to be the OG OREs. One is a now-closed restaurant in Oak Cliff Texas– Kirby’s Pig Stand. Whether or not they invented the dish is debatable, but the restaurant was still the first drive-in in the US. Food in your car? A life-changing concept (along with onion rings).
Still, it wasn’t until the 1930s that onion rings became a popular dish throughout North America. This might have something to do with the invention of Crisco: a brand of vegetable shortening that was cheap and started promoting fried foods as healthy (questionable) and delicious (definitely). In the 50s, fast food restaurants like A&W started adding onion rings to their menus, and the rest is debated history.
How to Make Delicious Onion Rings
If all that talk of onion rings has got you hungry, you’ll want to check out this simple recipe and make yourself a crispy batch of Os.
First up, the Ingredients:
- 2 large onions
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- Oil for frying
Now, put on your chef’s hat and:
- Peel and slice the onions into thick rings.
- In a bowl, mix the flour, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg and mix in the milk.
- Dip each onion ring into the flour mixture, then into the egg mixture, and then into the breadcrumbs.
- Heat the oil in a deep fryer or a heavy-bottomed pot to 375°F. Fry the onion rings in batches until they're golden brown and crispy. In the words of a wise onion: “Let’s get fried!”
- Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Optional but recommended: Eat a burger with your onion rings.
If you’re new to homemade onion rings, a few tips can help you achieve next-level deliciousness.
- Use thickly sliced onions. Thin ones will cook too quickly and get mushy.
- Let the onion rings sit in the flour mixture for a few minutes before dipping them in the egg mixture.This will help the coating stick better.
- Make sure the oil is hot enough before frying the onion rings. Otherwise the rings will absorb too much oil and become greasy AF.
While the origins of onion rings aren’t clear, their deliciousness is. Crispy, crunchy, and satisfying, these circles of joy are the perfect snack for any occasion. Whether you’re making them yourself or getting them delivered to your door, there’s nothing batter than onion rings (see what we did there?).
Order Delicious Onion Rings From BFF
No need to search “onion ring delivery near me”– we got you. BFF is serving up golden Os for pickup, delivery, or dine-in.
We aren’t your typical burger n’ fries joint. Our food helps to remove barriers and unite people from different backgrounds over memorable and nostalgic flavors. With quality ingredients and creative combos, we aim to be your (tastebuds’) BFF.
Stop by one of our locations for the best onion rings in Ottawa or Toronto. And don’t foget to tag us in pics of your fave BFF foods @burgersnfriesforever.