J. Kenji López-Alt's Go-To Tip For Onion Rings That Don't Fall Apart On The First Bite

When eating onion rings, whether they be homemade or ordered at a restaurant, there's always one thing that's bound to happen: You take a bite, and the whole onion ends up sliding out, leaving behind a hollowed-out ring of fried batter. Sure, both elements taste fine on their own, but let's be honest, eating a deconstructed onion ring isn't quite as satisfying as chowing down on a fully intact one.

The reason this happens is simply due to the anatomy of an onion, The Salted Pepper shares. Every layer in an onion — the natural rings you get when you slice into one — is separated by a film-like membrane. These membranes are what give onions their structural integrity, but they're so good at doing their job that they can also make it difficult to bite entirely through the onion's layer. Removing these membranes from each onion ring is a guaranteed way to ensure this doesn't happen, but it can be tedious and time consuming. That's where J. Kenji López-Alt's tip comes into play.

Freeze the onions beforehand

While you could achieve perfect fried onion ring results by using a tweezer to separate the membrane from each onion layer, the process will go a lot faster if you just freeze the onions first. As J. Kenji López-Alt explained in an article for Serious Eats, onions contain water, and when that water crystalizes, it expands. This in turn makes the once-thin membranes easier to remove with little effort. All you need to do to trigger crystallization, López-Alt shares, is stick the onions in the freezer, because crystalized water is just ice.

Shocking the onions in ice water for 30 minutes can also help, but according to López-Alt, it isn't as effective. If you prefer your onions on the sweeter side, cold water may be a better choice. Cuisine at Home points out that by soaking onions in water, much of the sulfur, and therefore the sharp flavor, gets removed. This will result in mellower-tasting onion rings, but the membrane won't be as easy to peel off as it would be if you froze your onions.

Or you could just use red onions

Though you could technically make onion rings with any variety of onion, most recipes suggest sticking to the white or yellow ones. The reason for this, per Foods Guy, is simply that white and yellow onions tend to be sweeter and more neutral-flavored, whereas red onions are more pungent. If you don't mind a stronger onion flavor however, red onions are the better choice. As TikTok user @hankbob77 pointed out, the membrane layer of a red onion is much easier to remove, and there's no freezing or soaking necessary.

For the same reason, red onions are also Guy Fieri's preferred variety when it comes to making onion rings. Demonstrating his technique in an episode of "Guy's Big Bite" (via Food Network), the celebrity chef first peels the membrane off his onion slices before dredging them in two coats each of sour cream and flour, then frying them up. When Fieri goes to take that first bite, the onion rings stay fully intact, and it's all thanks to the removed membrane.