Why You Should Be Coating Onion Rings In Pre-Baked Flour

On the surface, onion rings seem like a simple indulgence — one that shouldn't be too hard to master at home. But given how often onion rings are served in a manner that's less than desirable (limp, soggy, and greasy), there's clearly finesse involved when making the crunchy rounds. As with most things in life, when something looks "easy," it's usually because an expert has identified simple (but not always well-known) tricks to master the skill. That's certainly the case with onion rings. 

To get a side dish that's crispy, crunchy, and perfectly seasoned and breaded, you need to look to the professionals. According to Black Tap Craft Burgers and Beer's Corporate Chef, Stephen Parker, every single "simple" step of the process is important, and that's particularly true when it comes to selecting ingredients to make the batter and breading. 

Based on the recipe Parker uses for the renowned onion rings served at Black Tap, if you're using regular ol' all-purpose flour to bread your onions, you're missing out on an opportunity to add extra flavor and crackle. While talking with Tasting Table about ways to make the best onion rings, Parker says that at Black Top, "we recommend using good-quality, pre-baked flour to make sure there is a strong and flavorful crunch."

Use pre-baked flour for extra crunch

For starters, heat-treating flour kills any bacteria in the flour before it's used (a step that's not necessary when you're baking or frying foods but offers extra protection). It also changes the taste of the flour itself, imparting a nuttier, toasted flavor to the grain. 

What's particularly helpful when you're frying up onion rings is that the quick "toasting" of the flour before it's used gives a crispier texture, ultimately imparting that same crispiness to the onion rings you dip in it. When this special ingredient is combined with Parker's other onion ring-making tips, you're more likely to end up with perfect, restaurant-quality rings.

Heat-treated flour is readily available in grocery stores and online, but you can easily bake your own flour before using it for the same effects. All you have to do is whisk or stir the flour in a pan over medium heat for up to 10 minutes. The longer you bake the flour in this manner, the darker it will become and the nuttier the flavor it takes on. You may need to play a little bit with the level of baking to find the perfect flavor complexity for your onion rings based on your personal preference.