Are you a French fries person or an onion rings person?
I’m almost always a French fries person, for the most part because I forget to actually check out other options. When I order a sandwich or burger at a restaurant, they usually ask “are fries okay with that?” and I always oblige with a “yes”. The only exception to the rule is whenever I go to Outback (which, incidentally, hasn’t happened in at least five years), where I always order a bloomin’ onion. Here’s the thing… onion rings are awesome. Yes, they usually take a back seat to French fries, but they are a totally worthy side dish (or appetizer, or snack). While I’ve dabbled in baked onion rings before, I was really yearning to make some honest-to-goodness, beer-battered onion rings. They’re not hard to make, and I estimate that they’re better than 98% of the onion rings I’ve ever eaten. Scouts honor.
To make these onion rings, you first soak the onions in a mixture of beer, vinegar and seasonings, which softens the onions and mellows the raw flavor so the onion rings aren’t so pungent when you bite into them. Then a simple batter is whisked together, the onion rings are dipped, fried and drained! It’s an incredibly simple process and the result is infinitely better than any take-out onion rings I’ve eaten.
The onions are tender with a subtle flavor, while the crisp exterior is really what shines. They’re incredibly crunchy, yet the coating is thin and crisp. The best part? When you bite into these, everything stays together! How many times have you bitten into an onion ring only to inadvertently pull the entire onion out of the crust in the first bite? When I say perfect onion rings, I definitely mean perfect! You can eat them with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce; I’m partial to this Outback Bloomin’ Onion dipping sauce recipe.
I’ve vowed to myself to start trying out onion rings on a more regular basis. Maybe I’ll strike a happy balance between them and French fries, after all!
One year ago: My Dad’s Favorite Chocolate Birthday Cake
Perfectly crunchy beer-battered onion rings. Serve alongside your favorite burger or all by themselves for game day food.
2 sweet onions, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
3 cups beer, divided
2 teaspoons malt vinegar (can substitute cider vinegar)
1 teaspoon salt, divided
¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
2 quarts peanut oil (can substitute vegetable oil)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. In a large, resealable plastic bag, place the onions, 2 cups of the beer, the vinegar, ½ teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours (do not leave them for more than 2 hours, as the onions will get soggy).
2. Add the oil to a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot (it should come to a depth of about 2 inches). Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and set aside.
3. While the oil is heating, prepare the batter. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in ¾ cup of the remaining beer until just combined (the batter will be lumpy). Whisk in remaining beer, if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. The batter should fall from the whisk in a steady stream and leave a slight trail across the batter.
4. Remove the onions from the beer marinade, separate into rings and pat dry with paper towels. (Be sure that the onions are completely dry, or the batter will run off of them and not stick.) Transfer one-third of the onion rings to the bowl with the batter, turning to coat each one.
5. Once the oil reaches 350 degrees F, begin frying the onion rings, dropping them one at a time into the hot oil with a pair of tongs. Be sure not to overcrowd the pot, or they will stick together. Fry the onion rings for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown, flipping them over halfway through cooking. Using tongs, a slotted spatula or spoon, or a spider skimmer, remove the fried onion rings to the paper towel-lined baking sheet. Allow the oil to return to 350 degrees F and continue frying in batches. Season the onion rings with salt and pepper and serve immediately with ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce (see below).