Emeril’s Light & Crispy Onion Rings

Small-print menu option to swap the fries for salad or onion rings? YES PLEASE. To both. I ask for half portion of each. Total balance, right?

Onion rings might be my deep-fried kryptonite, which I only discovered when recently pregnant and this craving reigned supreme over all others (except maybe potatoes). Piping hot, crunchy, dunked and re-dunked in tangy ketchup… you know, I don’t think the craving went totally away.

This version from Emeril Lagasse’s new cookbook, Cooking with Power (featuring easy, tasty recipes for your pressure cooker, deep fryer, slow cooker, etc.), is, as the name suggests, incredibly light and crispy. The onions are briefly bathed in a tangy-spicy buttermilk mixture then lightly dredged in flour, yielding a golden coating that is flakey rather than heavy, and offers the perfect crunch-to-soft-onion ratio, with lots of flavour.

I didn’t own a deep fryer – it’s just not something I could justify buying for myself, with the sparse amount of frying I do. But I was really psyched when the last one arrived on my doorstep a few weeks ago to use test driving Emeril’s cookbook recipes.

It has some really cool features for someone intimidated by deep frying – digital thermometer, no splatters, stay-cool handle, built-in timer… but my favourite part is how easy it is to clean up. It magically knows when the cooking oil is cool enough, and filters it into a container below for storage. Then you just leave the oil there ’til next time, and pop all the other parts into the dishwasher for clean-up. Absolutely no mess. And it tells you when it’s time to change the oil!

SO much easier, cleaner, safer and less friggin’ terrifying than clamping a thermometer onto a pot and hoping to avoid fires and third-degree burns.

(They didn’t ask me to review the fryer, I just really like it!)

And you know what? Deep frying is actually not actually the devil as long as you do it right – which means maintaining the correct temperature of the oil (easy to do with a deep fryer, harder to do while nervously hovering a stockpot of boiling oil). As long as your oil is the right temp, it only permeates the surface of the food, making it super crisp and never greasy. Food will absorb much more fat when cooking oil isn’t hot enough.

Food science fact: deep fried food done right absorbs less fat than pan-fried food.

Is that incentive enough to tangle all your fingers into this salty-seductive pile of onion rings?

Still maybe reasonable to share…


  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp Creole Seasoning (cookbook gives recipe below – just mix all ingredients together – but I used store bought)
  • 3 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 large sweet onions, such as Viladia, Maui or Walla Walla, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rings
  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

Creole Seasoning (yields 2/3 cup)

  • 2 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme


  1. Combine buttermilk, hot sauce, Creole Seasoning, and 2 teaspoons of the cayenne in a large mixing bowl. Separate the onion slices into individual rings (discard the small center portions or save for another purpose). Add the onion rings to the buttermilk mixture and stir gently to coat. Refrigerate until chilled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees F. Position a wire rack over a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and remaining 1 teaspoon cayenne.
  4. Working in batches, remove the onion rings from the buttermilk mixture, allowing the excess to drip back into the bowl, and dredge them in the flour mixture. Remove the coated rings from the flour, shake to remove any excess, and place them on the wire rack. Repeat until you have coated all the onion rings.
  5. Working in batches, fry the onion rings, turning them occasionally, until crisp and golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer them to the wire rack to drain briefly. Season lightly with salt and serve immediately.

Last Updated on November 4, 2013 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 months ago

This is exactly how I like onion rings, with the thin flaky coating, not the thick puffy batter. But what kind of deep fryer are you using? That description sounds like just what I’d need to try making these!

Join the Foodess Tribe

Be the first to get new recipes and science-based cooking and baking tips straight to your inbox for free

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x