Buttermilk Fried Onion Rings With Buttermilk Dipping Sauce

BY Victoria de la Maza TIMEFebruary 3, 2022 PRINT

Crisp, crunchy, juicy onion rings are irresistible—you can’t just have one! I make mounds of them, using both red and white onions. I also like to add other vegetables, such as thin slices of eggplant, mushrooms, or peppers, to my fried veggie platter.

Onion rings cook rather quickly, so have everything ready before you actually start to cook: a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack for draining the oil, a platter to serve, and salt and pepper for last-minute seasonings.

I make the onion rings in a sauté pan with straight sides, rather than a frying pan with angled sides, to contain as much splatter as possible. If you have a fryer, even better.

Ketchup is the classic accompaniment, but since I already have extra buttermilk on hand, I use it to make a dipping sauce by adding mayonnaise, lemon juice, and herbs. Make this beforehand, too; you’ll want to serve your onion rings right away.

Serves 4 as an appetizer

For the Dipping Sauce  

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon thyme

For the Onion Rings

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 5 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 onions, cut horizontally into 1/2-inch slices and separated into rings
  • 2 cups light olive oil or cooking oil, for frying

Make the dipping sauce: In a bowl, mix all the ingredients until combined. Cover and chill before serving.

Make the onion rings: In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vinegar. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour with the salt and pepper.

Working in batches, dip the onion rings in the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, and then in the flour again. Shake to remove excess and set aside.

In a high-sided sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat until bubbly. Working in batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan, fry the onion rings for about 2 to 3 minutes per side until crisp and golden. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate or rack, then serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Victoria de la Maza is an award-winning cookbook author, columnist, and international TV host. Passionate about great food, she combines American traditions with her European heritage to create classic-with-a-twist recipes and ideas for stylish entertaining at home. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter, "Diary of a Serial Hostess,” at
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