Deep-Fried Blooming Onion

published Dec 17, 2021
Blooming Onion Recipe

A sweet onion, cut into the shape of a flower, is dipped in buttermilk and seasoned breading and deep-fried until crisp.

Serves4 to 6

Prep20 minutes

Cook8 minutes

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blooming onion on plate with sauce and beer in background
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If there’s one dish that exemplifies the “American way,” it’s a blooming onion. In America, we can’t just have onion rings. Nope, we are gonna fry the whole dang thing. The dish was brought to mainstream popularity by ’90s favorite restaurant chain Outback Steakhouse, whose beloved Bloomin’ Onion consists of a sweet onion sliced and cut to reveal the shape of a flower, then breaded in eggs, buttermilk, and a seasoned and spiced flour mixture and deep-fried until golden-brown and crisp. The result is an indulgent, shareable snack or appetizer that’s full of flavor and hard to put down.

How Do You Cut an Onion for a Blooming Onion?

The trickiest part about a blooming onion is making sure you cut it correctly. My #1 tip is to make sure you keep the root of the onion intact. If you cut too close, you risk the petals falling out. And if you cut all the way through, the whole thing will fall apart. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. Trim the onion. Start by trimming about 1/2-inch from the stem end of the onion (opposite the root), then peel away the outer skin. Flip the onion so it’s root-side up on the cutting board.
  2. Make the cuts. Working 1/2-inch below the root, cut down towards the cutting board. Spin the onion clockwise a quarter turn and repeat. Repeat turning and cutting twice more. Then cut down in between the first 4 cuts so you have 8 even sections of onion. Make 8 more cuts in between the first 8, avoiding the root, to reveal 16 sections of onion.
  3. Spread the petals. Flip the onion over to reveal the “flower,” then gently spread the petals to reveal the center. If the center is still intact, take a sharp knife or scissors to reveal the “piston.” This part is crucial to help the center cook through. If it’s left intact, it may be raw after you fry it.
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How Do You Batter and Fry the Onion?

Begin by heating oil in a large nonstick pot. Then, whisk together flour with dried spices and transfer some to a measuring cup. In another bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk. Some recipes use whole milk, but I found buttermilk enhances the overall flavors of the dish.

Place the cut onion in the bowl with the seasoned flour, then sprinkle the reserved flour over the surface, spreading the petals and the center to get flour in all the little nooks. Dust off any excess, then transfer the onion to the buttermilk mixture, scooping and flipping it so the buttermilk gets into all the cuts. Let excess drip off, then return to the flour mixture and coat the onion as best as possible.

When the oil reaches 375°F, carefully lower the onion into the oil on a spider. Be careful, as the mixture will bubble up! Fry, flipping once, until the onion is deep golden-brown and cooked through. Drain, transfer to paper towels, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Let cool for five minutes, then serve with your favorite dipping sauce. This sauce is great, but I also enjoy eating this onion with Heinz Chili Sauce.

Reheating a Blooming Onion

You can reheat and re-crisp your leftover blooming onion in a toaster oven on the convection setting, or in an air fryer. Also, if you don’t want to deep-fry the blooming onion, check out our air fryer blooming onion recipe!

Blooming Onion Recipe

A sweet onion, cut into the shape of a flower, is dipped in buttermilk and seasoned breading and deep-fried until crisp.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 8 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4 quarts

    (1 gallon) high-heat oil, such as canola, corn, or peanut, for deep-frying

  • 1

    large sweet onion (13 to 14 ounces), such as Vidalia

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon

    paprika

  • 3 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2

    large eggs

  • 1/2 cup

    buttermilk, whole, or 2% milk

  • Dipping sauce (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat 4 quarts high-heat oil in a large stockpot (make sure there is plenty of room between the oil and the top of the pot, as it will bubble up when you add the onion) over medium-high heat until 375ºF. Meanwhile, prepare the breading and cut the onion.

  2. Place 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 1/2 teaspoons of the kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Remove and set aside about 3/4 cup (does not need to be exact) of the flour mixture; keep the remaining in the bowl.

  3. Place 2 large eggs, 1/2 cup buttermilk or milk, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

  4. Using a sharp chef’s knife, trim 1/2 to 3/4 inch of the stem end (opposite of root end) from 1 large sweet onion and peel away the outer skin. Place the onion root-side up on the cutting board.

  5. Insert the tip of the knife about 1/2 inch below the root and cut down towards the cutting board. Do not make back-and-forth slicing motions; this will rip the petals. Spin the onion clockwise a quarter turn and repeat the cut. Repeat turning and cutting twice more.

  6. Avoiding the root again, make 4 more cuts between the first 4 cuts so that there are now 8 sections but the root is still intact. Make 8 more cuts between the first two rounds of cuts so that you now have 16 sections but the root is still intact.

  7. Flip the onion over to reveal the cuts and spread them to open like a flower. If there are any stuck pieces in the center, use the tip of your knife to slice to release (if you don’t do this, you may have raw onion in the center).

  8. Place the onion cut side up into the flour mixture. Sprinkle the reserved flour over the onion, making sure to spread the petals so the flour gets in all the nooks. Dust off any excess flour.

  9. Gently transfer the onion into the egg mixture, cut side down. In a scooping motion, lift up and spread the petals to coat completely in the egg. Scoop out some of the flour mixture into the measuring cup again, leaving some still in the bowl. Transfer the dipped onion, letting the excess liquid mixture drip back into the bowl, into the flour mixture cut side up. Spread the petals and sprinkle with the reserved flour mixture section by section so all the petals are well coated on all sides.

  10. Line a baking sheet with a wire rack and top with a paper towel.

  11. When the oil is ready, place the breaded onion in a spider cut-side up. Carefully lower into the oil (be careful, it will bubble up). The oil temperature will drop, so adjust the heat as needed to keep it between 360 to 365ºF. Fry until deep golden brown on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Flip the onion and fry until deep golden brown and knife tender, 3 to 4 minutes more.

  12. Using the spider, pick up the onion out of the oil cut side down and let the excess oil drip back into the pot. Place cut-side up on the paper towels. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Let cool about 5 minutes before serving with dipping sauce if desired.