In addition to great seafood, New Orleans serves some awesome onion rings. I had this revelation during one of our recent visits into New Orleans. We ate at the neighborhood restaurant, Deanie’s Sea Food Kitchen, on Magazine Street, in the Garden District. This little restaurant is not especially known to tourists. Rather, it is a place where locals patronize. The seafood plates are fantastic. We indulged in a soft-shell crab po-boy and got homemade onion rings as an appetizer. While onion rings are not unique to New Orleans, the ones served in this city have evolved into something special. At Deanie’s, the colossal stack of onions are “hand-cut, battered in buttermilk and fried until golden fried.” They are delicious. Back home, while shopping at our local farmer’s market, I noticed some huge white onions. I decided to try to replicate Deanie’s onion rings. It was definately an experiment!
Here are my onion rings, shown below. Am I close to the ones above? I think I’m going in the right direction. Good onion rings should have a flavorful, crisp batter that sticks to the onions. The onions should be fried so that they are cooked throughout but not too greasy. I like onions which are sliced so that they are nice and thick, as seen here, and very meaty. Who wants only breading? I’m sure that restaurants which serve collosal onion rings have the process prefected. At home, I walked a balancing act and made a couple of adjustments in my recipe as I went along.
Homemade onion rings are far superior to the frozen ones which you can purchase in grocery stores. Trust me on this one. Although making them at home presents a couple of challenges, it is worth it. After coming home from errands, my taste tester husband proclaimed that my homemade onion rings were delicious and consumed a large quanity of the batch. I’m glad I kept going.
Deanie’s has been around in New Orleans since 1961. It is a family owned enterprise operated by various members of the family. The original restaurant was in Bucktown in Metairie. More recently, Deanie’s opened a second restaurant in the French Quarter. The last restaurant, Deanie’s Sea Food Kitchen, opened in the Garden District on Magazine Street in New Orleans in 2018. The restaurant menus are similar at all three establishments. Their specialty is huge seafood plates. Here’s the soft shell crab po-boy. I’m pretty sure that you won’t find this menu item very far from south Louisiana. Yes, folks, you eat the entire crab!
And where else will you find crawfish-boil infused flavored small, new boiled potatoes which are brought to the table as a complimentary appetizer.
Onion Ring Recipe
For my recipe, I am using the photo above which I took at the restaurant and their menu description a guide. Plus, I checked out Emeril John Lagassé, celebrity chef from New Orleans and restauranteur, for his versions of this recipe.
I am pretty sure that these onion rings are made with sweet, white onions. The large yellow onions used by commecial food services would be too strong in flavor. These large onions weighted 1 lb 6 oz each. I only used two of the onions in my recipe.
Both Deanie’s Sea Food Restaurant and Emeril Lagassé soaked the onion rings in buttermilk mixed with hot sauce. So, my cut onion rings got the soak, too. However, I learned not to toss and turn the onion rings as they soaked because this caused the rings to break apart. Cutting these huge onion rings was challenging but I managed. I used only the middle part of the onions and saved the round ends for other uses. I also separated out the small inside rings for other recipes, too.
Here’s the dilemma. Do you use only a seasoned flour breading, or one which contains an egg wash? I’ve seen recipes for both versions and I tried both ways. The egg wash version make final onion rings which had a puffier coating. More of the batter stuck on these onion rings. Using only a seasoning flour breading made a more traditional onion ring. In one trial batch, I double dipped the onion rings in the buttermilk and back into the flour. I went with this version in my printed recipe.
In both versions, I seasoned the flour with salt, onion powder, garlic powder and just a pinch of both black pepper and cayenne pepper. Let’s give some flavor to these onion rings. Baking powder is included in the recipe. When it mixes with the buttermilk, the batter has a little “puff.” Very nice.
Frying properly is the key
Frying the onion rings properly is the key to getting good results. I’ve decided that there is no way that you can make onion rings without frying them. I’ve tryed the Air Fryer and also baking onion rings in the oven — they are not the same as fried onionn rings.
And the key to frying onion rings is two things — use good, clean oil. I use peanut oil. The second point is to keep the temperature constant at 350 degrees. If the frying temperature goes too high — the onion rings burn and are not cooked inside. Too low a temperature — the onion rings are soggy.
I got out my simple, trusty FryDaddy deep fat fryer for this recipe. It keeps the temperature regulated at 360 degrees which is perfect. My onion rings came out nice and golden. You don’t have to worry about using a thermometer or adjusting the temperature of the stove. The FryDaddy monitors and adjusts the temperature. The other nice feature of this little appliance is that the oil only comes half way up the insides. The onion rings splattered but not all over my counter or me.
It took two to three minutes, turning once, to fry each batch of onion rings so that they were golden brown. After frying, keep onion rings warm in a 250 F degree oven.
The disadvantage is that the FryDaddy is small. Although it does use 4 cups of oil, the inside diameter is small. I could only fry several onion rings at a time, so making this recipe took alot of time. Most of my huge slices broke apart, they would not have fit in the fryer anyway. I have no idea where Deanie’s got their huge onions, but it certainly is impressive.
Next time I make fried onion rings, I’ll purchase medium-sized sweet, mild onions such as the Vidalia onion variety.
Serve the onion rings with a dipping sauce or ketsup. These onion rings are essentially a take-off on “Bloomin’ Onions” so any sauce used for that dish will work with these fried onion rings. I love my recipe for “”Cocktail Dipping Sauce for Pluck, Pluck Fried Chicken Fingers” which I featured on a blog post earlier this year. Perfect for onion rings, too. (See reference.)
I am pleased (and surprised) that I got this recipe right the first time I made it. These onion rings tasted great. They are best when eaten the day they are fried — but this was not a problem as we ate the entire batch. Although we try not to often indulge in fried foods, sometimes we enjoy this delicious appetizer/side dish.
I’ll add this to my list of “recipes which I have mastered.” And, I have no intention of competing with Deanie’s Sea Food Restaurant. Their place in the restaurant business in New Orleans is secure. This was an interesting experiment, I’m glad I located my FryDaddy and made “Homemade Onion Rings.” If I ever geat a craving for this item again, I don’t have to drive to New Olreans to enjoy it.
New Orleans Style Homemade Onion Rings
- 2 (1 lb 6 oz) very large sweet, white onions*
- 2 cups cultured buttermilk
- 2 Tbsp hot sauce such as Crystal Hot Sauce or Frank’s Hot Sauce
- 1-1/2 cup cup all purpose flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 cups (1 quart) peanut oil for frying, more as needed
- dipping sauce or ketsup, if desired, **
Method and Steps:
- Peel and slice the onions crosswise into 1/2″ rings. Use the end slices (which are curved) for othe recipes. Carefully separate the slices into separate rings. Use the small, inside rings for other recipes.
- In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce. Submerge the onion rings in the buttermilk mixture while you prepare the remining ingredients.
- In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Transfer about half the flour mixture to a shallow bowl, save the remainder to refill this bowl.
- Heat the peanut oil in a FryDaddy deep fat fryer for 15 minutes until it comes to temperature of 360 degrees. Alternately, add the peanut oil to a depth of at least 2 inches in a large, heavy Dutch oven on the stove and heat to 350 degrees. (This pot may require more than 4 cups oil.) Use an instant-read thermometer to monitor and adjust the temperature of the stove.
- Working with a few onion slices at a time, shake off excess buttermilk. Dredge the slices into the flour mixture, shake off excess flour. Then dip again in the buttermilk and back again in the flour mixture. Shake off excess.
- Fry each batch in the FryDaddy or Dutch oven for two to three minutes, turning once half way through the frying. Fry only as many as will fit into the fryer in a single layer. The onion rings should be a golden, brown.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion rings and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep warm in a 250 F degree oven while frying the remainder of the onion rings.
- Repeat with remaining onion rings until all are fried. Refill the flour mixture in shallow dish as needed.
- Serve with a dipping sauce or ketsup.
*NOTE: Substitute 3 – 4 moderate sized sweet, Vitalia onions for 2 very large onions
**NOTE: Make a delicious homemade dipping sauce, “Cocktail Dipping Sauce for Pluck, Pluck Fried Chicken Fingers.”
How do they do it? (Make this colossal stack of onion rings.) I came close!