Food & Drink

French-Fried Onion Rings

Forget the baked potato or the fries! Try serving this Bold onion ring alternative from Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise.

Photo © stevendepolo

Photo © stevendepolo

French-Fried Onion Rings

Serves 4 to 6

Little is known about how the fritter met the onion and came out French. A fritter is a piece of fruit, meat, fish, or vegetable that is coated in batter or dusted with flour and deep-fried. It can also be a fried dollop of plain dough. Somewhere along the line, and probably in many places over time, onions found themselves fritterized.

The first recipe for battered onion rings in America appeared in a Crisco ad in 1933 in the New York Times Magazine. It called for the onion to be sliced and the slices punched free into ever-diminishing circles. Meanwhile, the term French became the popular descriptive for deep-frying, whether the object of the hot oil treatment was battered or not. Along this meandering path, the onion ring became a fritter and then became “French” fried. The tasty savory quickly soared to an all-American favorite, a heap of them appearing with hamburgers, steaks, chops, and sandwiches. The rings can be wide or thin, twice fried or once, beer or water or soda battered, but one thing about them is for sure: A sprinkling of salt overall, postfrying, is an absolute requisite of their lure.

  • 2 large yellow, white or sweet onions, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rings, rings separated
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Peanut or canola oil, for deep-frying
  • Kosher or fine sea salt

1. Place the onion rings in a large bowl, pour the milk over them, and toss to coat. Set aside. Spread the flour on a large plate. Set aside.

2. Pour oil to a depth of 1½ inches into a large, deep pot and heat over medium-high heat until a sprinkle of water dropped in instantly sizzles. A few at a time, lift out of the milk as many onion rings as will fit in the pot without crowding. Shake them to get rid of any excess milk and put them on the plate with the flour. Turn to coat the onion rings thoroughly and gently place them in the oil. Fry, using tongs to separate and turn the rings, until golden and crispy, 2 to 3 minutes altogether. Transfer to paper towels to drain and sprinkle with salt. Continue with another round until all the rings are fried. Serve right away.



Crave big, bold flavors in generous portions? Check out Bold—250 recipes that celebrate the American tradition of delicious, plate-filling meals.

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