Mama G.’s onion ring recipe

Onion Ring

Onion Rings

Mama G. (aka Leann Grunwald) offers up an indulgent onion ring recipe.

With lazy summer days, Labor Day, and barbecue top of mind, it’s the perfect time to fry up some savory onion rings, or as I fondly refer to them, vegetable doughnuts. My thick-cut onion rings are made from beautiful whole white onions and battered with a subtle blend of spices that allow the onion’s natural sweetness to shine through. Fried golden and salted the second they leave the pot, they’re a most welcome addition to virtually any gathering.

The exact origins of the onion ring are unknown, but in the early 1930s, a recipe for deep-fried onion rings dipped in milk and then dredged in flour appeared in a Crisco advertisement in The New York Times Magazine. One earlier claimant to the invention of the snack is Kirby’s Pig Stand restaurant chain, which also is reported to be the very first fast-food drive-in restaurant in the country, founded in Texas in the early 1920s.

But it’s A&W that’s credited with popularizing onion rings in fast-food restaurants by introducing these savory morsels to its menu in the 1960s. I remember pulling into the A&W drive-in and being served by a sweet hostess on skates as she connected our food on a tray to our window.

As it turned out, Americans just couldn’t get enough of these crunchy indulgences, and the popularity of onion rings continues unabated to this day. Please enjoy my most simple yet ridiculously delicious recipe for this down-home treat!


Mama G’s Batter-Fried Onion Rings

Serves 4


1          cup all-purpose flour

1          Tbs. sea salt and freshly ground black pepper for batter

1          Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1          cup lager beer

2          large egg whites

vegetable oil for frying

1          pound white onions, peeled and cut into thick rings



  1. In a bowl, sift together flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually mix olive oil and the beer with flour mixture until smooth. Do not over-mix. Let stand for one hour. Then, beat the egg whites until peaks form and gently fold into batter.
  1. In a cast-iron pot, preheat cooking oil to 365 degrees. Oil should be no more than halfway up the pot.
  1. Working in batches, dip onion rings into batter, letting excess drip off, before carefully placing into the pot. Deep-fry until golden. Drain, salt lightly to your preferred taste, and place on paper towels.

Serve immediately once the last batch is cooked.



  1. Keep in mind that cold oil will take close to 20 minutes to reach proper temperature.
  2. Never leave oil unattended for even a moment.
  3. No need for fancy beer. Lager works best.
  4. To ensure a light, fluffy batter, make sure you allow the batter to rest.
  5. A well-mixed batter will look thick.
  6. Purchase a good thermometer for assured success. This leaves out all the guesswork.
  7. Stove tops vary—you may need to adjust the temperature slightly.
  8. If cooking for a crowd, heat the oven to 200. Once you complete each batch of onion rings, place it in the oven to keep crisp and warm.


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