Air Fryer Blooming Onion

published Oct 1, 2021
Air Fryer Blooming Onion Recipe

If your Outback go-to is a blooming onion, you'll love this air fryer version.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 35 minutes

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Bloomin onion (an onion cut in a  unique way so it looks a like a flower blooming. that ensures maximum crispy bits) then cooked in an air fryer and fried to a deep golden color served on a gray plate with a creamy dipping sauce on the side
Credit: Kelli Foster

I’m not sure if it’s the crispy, seasoned breading; the sweet, slinky strand of onion tucked inside; or the creamy, spiced dipping sauce that keeps me going back for bite after bite after bite of this blooming onion. Most likely, it’s a combination of all three.

Inspired by the ultra-popular restaurant starter, this version skips the deep-frying and uses the air fryer instead for a blooming onion that’s just as good as, if not better than, the original. You’ll start with a large sweet onion that’s cut, double-coated with a lightly spiced breading, then air-fried until lightly browned and crisp. Just don’t forget the dipping sauce. It’s a game-day snack that’s guaranteed to impress. 

What Is a Blooming Onion?

A blooming onion, made popular by Outback Steakhouse, is an appetizer made with a large, sweet onion that’s cut to resemble a blossoming flower, then battered and fried. It’s traditionally deep-fried, however this version uses the air fryer.

How to Cut a Blooming Onion

There are four simple steps for cutting a blooming onion. 

  1. Remove stem. Cut off about 1/2 inch from the stem of the onion. Remove and discard outer peel.
  2. Make 4 evenly-spaced downward cuts. Place onion cut-side down on cutting board. Starting about 1/2 inch from the root make a downward slice to the bottom of the onion. Repeat to make 3 more evenly spaced slices around the onion.
  3. Make additional cuts. Make 3 additional cuts between each section until you have 16 evenly spaced cuts.
  4. Separate petals. Turn the onion over and use your fingers to gently pull back and separate the onion sections to separate the petals.

What Type of Onion Should I Use?

Sweet onions, such as vidalia onions, are the best choice for making a blooming onion. Use a large sweet onion that’s about one pound.

3 Tips for the Best Air Fryer Blooming Onion

  1. Use a baking sheet. Most recipes have you coat the onion with the breading in a large bowl. While this approach absolutely works, a baking sheet makes this task much easier and gives you more space to work.
  2. Shake off excess breading. This is most important after adding the second coat of breading. Shaking off any excess will prevent clumping around the base of the onion.
  3. Be generous with the cooking spray. Be sure to coat the onion all over the outside and around each petal. This will give the onion more color and a crispier bite. Don’t like cooking spray? You can use an olive oil mister instead.

What Blooming Onion Sauce Should I Make?

There’s a simple and totally irresistible dipping sauce included in the recipe below, but all dipping sauces are fair game here. Ketchup, BBQ sauce, honey mustard, and ranch are a few of our other favorites.

Air Fryer Blooming Onion Recipe

If your Outback go-to is a blooming onion, you'll love this air fryer version.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the onion:

  • 1

    large sweet onion (about 1 pound), such as Vidalia

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon

    paprika

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cups

    whole or 2% milk

  • Cooking spray

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons

    mayonnaise

  • 2 tablespoons

    sour cream

  • 1 tablespoon

    ketchup

  • 1 teaspoon

    Worcestershire sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Cut off about 1/2 inch from the stem end of 1 large sweet onion. Peel and discard the outer skin. Place the onion cut-side down on the cutting board. Starting about 1/2 inch from the root, make a downward cut to the bottom of the onion. Repeat to make 3 more evenly-spaced cuts around the onion. Make 3 additional cuts between each section until you have 16 evenly spaced cuts.

  2. Flip the onion over and use your fingers to gently pull back and separate the onion sections to separate the petals.

  3. Place 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a large, wide bowl, and whisk to combine. Place 2 large eggs and 1/2 cup milk in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Heat an air fryer to 375ºF. Meanwhile, coat the onion.

  5. Transfer the flour mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and place the onion on top. Use your hands or a spoon to sprinkle the flour mixture over the onion, separating the petals as needed, so that the onion is well-coated all over. Shake off any excess flour if needed, then pour the remaining flour mixture back into the bowl.

  6. Dip the onion in the egg mixture, moving the petals as needed so that it’s coated all over. Allow any excess to drip off. Return the onion to the baking sheet. Working your way around the onion, use your hands or a spoon to sprinkle the remaining flour mixture all over the onion and in between each petal, so that the onion is well-coated all over. Shake off any excess to avoid clumping.

  7. Generously coat the onion all over, including in between the petals, with cooking spray. Lightly coat the air fryer basket with cooking spray. Use a thin metal spatula to place the onion in the basket. Air fry until crispy and golden brown all over, 30 to 35 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce.

  8. Place 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons sour cream, 1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a small bowl, and stir to combine.

  9. Remove the blooming onion from basket and serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The dipping sauce can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.