Recipe: Beer-Battered Onion Rings

Recipe: Beer-Battered Onion Rings

Nealey Dozier
Jul 25, 2013

Onion rings are incredibly easy to make, and they are definitely much less fussy than homemade fries. All you have to do is slice them, dunk them in a quick batter, and fry 'em up. You can serve them as an appetizer with a dip (ranch dressing always proves popular) or as a side with practically anything.

I learned how to make these onion rings using a beer batter while in culinary school, and it has remained my go-to recipe. Beer is great in batters because it is loaded with carbon dioxide, which along with foaming agents and alcohol, help to create a crisp, flavorful crust — almost tempura in style. (And if you don't like onion rings, beer also helps make some pretty amazing fries.) The only trick is that you need to use the batter right away — don't let it sit! — or the carbon dioxide will all escape.
I prefer to use Vidalia onions when they're available, but any sweet onion will do. Slice them thin if you like "shoestring" onion rings and thick if you want them to be more substantial. You can even cut them into half moons and bake them on top of a green bean casserole!
If you choose to serve these with the Southern fried catfish I shared this week (and I highly recommend you do), just fry them up in the same oil you cooked the fish in; they make a perfect pairing. Whatever you do, serve them hot and with plenty of beer!

Beer-Battered Onion Rings

Serves 4 to 6

  • Neutral cooking oil, such as peanut, canola, or cottonseed, for frying

  • 4

    sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla

  • 1 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1

    (12-ounce) bottle lager-style beer, such as Budweiser

  • 2 teaspoons


  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fill a heavy Dutch oven or cast iron pot with a few inches of oil and heat on medium-high until it reaches 365° to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels or a brown paper bag.

While the oil heats, slice off the root and tip ends of the onions. Peel the onions and cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch slices. Separate slices into individual rings, discarding the centers (or saving them for another purpose). 

In a shallow mixing bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper to combine. Whisk in just enough beer to make a smooth paste, working the mixture as little as possible. Whisk in more beer (about 1/2 cup) until the batter is smooth and creamy, about the consistency of pancake batter.

Using tongs, dip an onion ring into the batter and flip to coat completely, shaking excess batter back into the bowl. Drop the ring into the oil and repeat, working in batches so as not to crowd the pot. (Allow the oil to come back up to temperature before continuing with another batch.) 

Fry until golden, flipping occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the rings using a spider or tongs, and transfer to the prepared sheet pan to drain. Season with additional salt and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

The batter must be made right before frying because the carbon dioxide in the beer dissipates quickly.

(Images: Nealey Dozier)

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