Onion Rings are Frugal


Yesterday I followed up on my February Financial Resolution – to avoid eating out for the entire month. I discussed my shortcomings and successes.

I mentioned that I have an undying love for onion rings from A&W. I caved to my cravings early in the month. I did, however, solve the problem so that I didn’t buy any onion rings for the rest of the month. How? I learned how to make good onion rings at home.

I draw some inspiration here from when SquawkFox (a PerFi blogger) decided to stop paying so much for Frappuccinos from StarBucks and started making the drink herself.

Unlike SquawkFox, I didn’t set out to produce an exact replica of the A&W masterpiece. I just wanted to stop paying $3.70 for a little bag of delicious onion rings. Based on my years of scientific analysis, I’ve determined that the key factors of a fantastic onion ring are:

(1)  It’s either breaded or tempura battered. Onion rings in run-of-the-mill batter are inherently mediocre. This is entirely determined by the recipe.

(2)  It’s carefully wide cut, but not too thick. The outside surface of the onion ring should be wide. The edge of the diameter should be thin. This is determined by how you cut the rings.

I found a good recipe for classic breaded onion rings after a bit of searching. The recipe lacks clarity (e.g. it doesn’t tell you when to add the seasoning salt). As a result, while I won’t repeat ingredients here, I’ll discuss the steps. Spoiler: the outcome is fantastic.

The ingredients

I assembled the ingredients.

Onion rings: the healthy kind

I cut the onion into rings, but I didn’t cry.

Three steps

In the centre bowl, I mixed together the salt, baking powder, and flour, and then whisked in the egg and milk. Into the right-hand (stainless steel) bowl, I poured bread crumbs and then mixed in the seasoning salt. I dipped each ring into the flour/milk mixture, coating it; I lifted it above the bowl and shook it a few times to remove the excess. Then I dipped it in the bread crumb mixture, flipped the ring, and dipped the other side. The next picture is the pre-fried product.

Battered and ready to fry

Finally I put each ring in a pan of vegetable oil (use tongs!), on medium-high element heat. The rings need to be able to at least barely float; waste less oil by using a small diameter pot or pan. I watched them bubble; it was quite easy to tell when the rings were perfectly fried.

Heart Healthy Option

There you have it: fantastic breaded onion rings.

Getting all of the necessary ingredients for this recipe at one time would cost a pretty penny. Luckily, the only things that we needed to purchase were an onion and breadcrumbs. Those two items cost less than half the price of an order of onion rings at A&W. Notably, we had enough bread crumbs leftover to do it all again. Later that week, we did.

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15 Comments… Share your views

  1. Very smart! I’m impressed. I enjoyed seeing your photos of each step too. I’m sure your partner liked having you help out in the kitchen. …Unless of course you left a big mess. haha

    • lol well in my defence I was busy *eating* the onion rings after I made them, and she hates onions, so it seemed like synergy for her to help clean up my mess…

  2. Interesting, I question what they have to do with finances and why I didn’t I get ones from that batch.

    • lol (1) it has a lot to do with finances! Where’s your imagination?! (2) bring over a container of bread crumbs and two large white onions and we’ll make them!

  3. Interesting indeed, sir. I now too am tempted to do the same and your instructions no less encouraged such temptation. It appears no less that your product contains the essence of what truly makes an onion ring an onion ring. First impressions upon hearing of your endeavor no doubt left me feeling that for you such a project was no less than quixotic, but perhaps now I think otherwise.

    • Do it! Also, I didn’t promise to not eat out this month so if you want to hit up the A&W near Yonge and College for their fantastic onion rings lemme know.

  4. This post may be counter-intuitive in terms of promoting frugality since I can’t stop thinking about onion rings now.

  5. I have a thing for iced cappuccino too. I think I can make it myself and save $2.61.

    • I love Iced Caps. But you’re right — even at Tim Horton’s the price is absolutely INSANE when you think about some crushed ice mixed with cream and instant cappucino. But they’re so good!

  6. Post after my own heart. This is a genius idea. I, too, am an onion ring fanatic. It’s so hard to shell out the extra $0.50 from my fast food budget to upgrade to their awesome-y goodness though. I plan on making your alternative this weekend.

  7. Those look so good! And i can’t eat onions – they give me heatburn. But I bet I could use the same recipe for breaded mushrooms, which would be awesome….

    I make my own pizza too, which costs less than half of cheap takeout, and tastes WAY better. Definitely worth it!

    • Breaded anything is just so much better than battered anything!

      I just need to figure out how to make pizza that tastes like it came from Pizza Hut. Then I’m never leaving the house.

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