When it comes to fast food, there are two things I absolutely love: 1) coleslaw and 2) onion rings. I’ve loved both ever since I was a little girl who got her fried food in buckets and baskets.
While I love just about any type of onion ring, I’ve always been a bigger fan of batters over breading. So I was on the search for the best beer batter I could find to make myself a batch!
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Talk About Perfect Onion Rings
I couldn’t have been more pleased with this recipe I’m about to share with you. The rings fried to the perfect golden color. The onions cooked perfectly on the inside. The batter itself was the right combination of spices; It’s not bland, but still not so “strong” that the flavors compete with the taste of the onion on the inside. It also did NOT fall off or pull off as you bit into it (I HATE when that happens).
Why Eat Out?
Honestly, these onion rings came out so fantastic, I think they easily rival anything I’ve had at a restaurant, hotdog stand, or bar and grill. Why eat out, when the food you can make at home can taste as good — or better? And these onion rings truly make that grade.
Now a few notes before you dive in and make the best onion rings ever!
Recipe Makes More Than I Originally Made
When I made my own batch, I actually only made 1/4 of the recipe I’m about to present. My better half’s digestion system doesn’t handle onions, even cooked ones, very well. My son loves onion rings, but wasn’t home at the time… So I was making a batch just for me. A fourth of the recipe was the perfect amount! (Better half couldn’t resist trying a couple. A risk worth taking, I suppose!)
No Deep Fryer
I don’t recommend making these in a deep fryer, even though you could. As they are battered, they are going to make a big mess in your machine and in your oil (which I actually reuse). I opted instead to use my cast iron frying pan, and I’m so glad I did! Three inches of oil is all you need. I actually used OLIVE oil, as it was all I had on hand. It worked incredibly well. Corn oil would probably work very well.
Make Sure You Have A Candy/Oil Thermometer
It’s important to have it at the oil at the right temperature to get that perfect golden color and still cook the onion inside properly. In order to ensure that, you’ll need a thermometer. It’s the only way to make sure the oil heats up to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Also don’t overload the pan with onions. Doing so will reduce the temperature of the oil, and you want that temperature to remain consistently hot for the best results. Give the rings space — they should not be touching each other.
Cajun-Style Spice Makes A Difference
While optional, I really think adding some cajun-style spice makes a significant difference. You could probably use pure cayenne pepper, but I had cajun-style spice on hand — specifically Kingsford Cajun-Style All-Purpose Seasoning. My better half found it at the Dollar Tree store. But you can also order it from Amazon by clicking HERE. I didn’t use a lot… Just a couple of pinches in the fourth of the recipe I mixed up. I wanted it to give it more flavor and a kick without making it hot. It didn’t take much to achieve that goal.
So Does The Garlic Powder
I think what really keeps this particular batter from being bland is the garlic powder. It’s noticeable, and yet not overpowering. It blends well with the taste of the onion itself. If you feel the need to omit something, make sure it’s NOT the garlic powder!
Don’t Be Afraid To Taste Your Batter
There’s no reason why you can’t taste this batter (there are no eggs in it), and you absolutely should! Why? It gives you are opportunity to assess what it needs as far as spices go. You can tell if you might need a little more salt or a bit more cajun flavoring. Just add any additional spices in small pinches, so as not to inadvertently cross the line.
Watch The Consistency Of The Batter
In cutting the recipe in half and then in half again (to get a fourth), I found that I still needed more beer than I thought I would. In fact, I used about half of the 12 oz. bottle over just a fourth of it. So use your own judgment when adding the beer (and keep an extra bottle or can of beer on hand, just in case). The consistency should not be so thin as to be like liquid. It should have some weight and thickness to it and “grip” the onion ring. It will still drip, but it won’t be watery. I would compare it to pancake batter. It shouldn’t be so thin that you could pour it, like you might pancake batter. Rather, it would be the thickness right before it gets to that thinner point. It will be closer, instead, to most cake batters.
About The Beer
Some of these beer batter recipes call for a light ale. But I actually used a bottle of better half’s favorite Hacker-Pschorr, specifically its “Oktoberfest Märzen” variety. Hacker-Pschorr is a lager made with wheat and barley. It’s definitely a darker, “bready” beer, and I can’t help but think that it was a positive plus to the tastiness of the batter.
Of course, I’m all in favor of experimentation to see which spices and beer produces the best results for you and your own tastes! You can always split the recipe in two and take note of what you do to each batter… and then fry up two batches of rings and decide which version you like the best!
Try this recipe and see if it ruins you for all other onion rings!
P.S. — This could be a great batter for chicken fingers and fish as well. Still be to tested and seen by me, but when I do, I’ll report back!
Get It Down Pat’s Best Beer Batter Onion Rings
- 2 Medium to large bowls
- 1 Set of measuring cups
- 1 Set of measuring spoons
- 1 Whisk
- 1 Frying pan (Needs to accommodate oil, three inches in depth.)
- 1 Candy/oil thermometer
- 1 Tongs (To flip rings while cooking and then remove them from the oil.)
- 2 C All-purpose flour Divided into 1 ½ cups and another ½ cup
- 2 t Paprika
- 1 t Garlic powder
- 2 t Salt I prefer using sea salt.
- 1 t Black pepper I'm a big fan of pepper in savory dishes. Feel free to taste and add more if you think it needs it.
- 12 oz Beer I prefer the dark lager I used (Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest Märzen); keep another can or bottle on hand to make sure the consistency of the batter is correct (see article above); don't include any "head" (the foam of the beer) in your measurement.
- 2 Large Yellow or Vandalia (sweet) onions I actually used a smallish yellow onion for my small batch. But a sweet Vandalia would probably be your best bet.
- Enough vegetable oil for frying (roughly three inches deep in the frying pan) I used extra virgin olive oil — not known as a deep cooking oil, and a bit of a pricey way to go, but I can't argue with the good results. Avocado oil might be another good choice. I also like using corn oil for frying. I'm NOT a fan at all of canola, which actually comes from rapeseed, a very toxic plant. While the final version is no longer toxic per se, it's a highly processed food, and I personally stay away from it in my home cooking.
- Cajun-style spice or Cayenne pepper to taste (optional, but I can't imagine this recipe without at least a dash) If using the full "2 C flour" recipe, a good start would probably be ¼ teaspoon. If in doubt, start with ⅛ of a teaspoon and slowly work up. The goal is flavor over heat (unless you want these to be hot and spicy — then go big).
- Additional salt (optional) To salt the finished cooked rings (I did NOT salt them)
- In one of the bowls, whisk together the 1 ½ cups of flour with the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
- Slowly whisk the beer into the mixture. The goal consistency should be smooth and thick, but still fluid and drippy. (If it looks like cookie dough, it's way too thick. If it looks like pourable pancake batter, it's too thin.) Add more beer if it appears to be necessary. Let the batter rest at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Place the remaining flour in the other bowl.
- Peel and slice the onion into ¼-inch thick rings. Keep all but the very smallest rings from the center — it can all be fried up!
- Toss the onion rings in the remaining flour to lightly coat them.
- Place the oil in the frying pan, with a depth of roughly 3 inches. Heat the oil to 375 degrees fahrenheit, using the candy/oil thermometer to gauge the temperature. It might take time for the oil to heat up. Be patient. Once you reach the temperature, check it occasionally to make sure it remains constant.
- When the temperature is correct, take a ring out of the flour and dip it into the batter mixture. Give the ring a little shake and allow the excess batter to drip off. Then carefully place the onion ring into the hot oil. (Don't drop the onion ring in, as that can result in splattering.) Continue to do this, one onion ring at a time, until you have enough rings in the pan without overloading the rings. In my pan, which is roughly a 9" pan, this was about 8 rings.
- Fry the first batch of rings roughly 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, then flip and fry the other side for 2 to 3 more minutes, for a total of 4 to 6 minutes for each ring. The goal is less about time and more about color. You are shooting for a light-to-medium golden hue. (See photograph as an example.) So use color over time when determining doneness.
- Place the fried rings on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess grease. If desired, you can lightly salt the finished rings (and if you decide to do this, you should do this immediately, while they are still HOT). I did NOT salt the cooked onion rings. I felt like they had enough salt in the batter itself. You can always salt and taste-test one ring first and compare it to an unsalted ring, to see if the rings really need salt or not.