Your Onion Rings Will Taste Better With This Simple Step

Onion rings are one of the great joys of American dining. These days, with the beloved side being found on menus everywhere from burger joints to fine dining restaurants, the bar keeps getting higher and higher as chefs whittle this legacy dish down to a science. There are many crucial components that go into a perfect onion ring, from a great dredge to a precise fry to meticulous seasoning; it's not as easy as simply buying organic, high-quality produce (though that never hurts). The best onion rings can survive any to-go box and shine through any condiment; they can enhance burgers and sandwiches but are also tasty enough to eat alone, naked, with no dipping sauce at all.

But being one of the most potent veggies out there, onions need to be treated properly before reaching your table. Luckily for you, we know exactly what to do with those Alliums once they're cut. Stop your crying and read on.

Soak your onions in a bowl of ice water before frying

You might think the answer is some kind of molecular gastronomy trick, but that couldn't be further from the truth. According to Cuisine at Home, you should soak your onion rings in a bowl of ice water for at least an hour before cooking; after that, you'll want to drain them and continue with the dredging process. Soaking the onions helps dilute their sulfur content, taking away that pungent, raw bite and leaving you with a pleasant, milder onion that still has some snap to it. Cuisine At Home also recommends maintaining ultimate crispiness by double-dipping the onions in buttermilk and seasoned flour.

Cook's Illustrated concurs with the cold water tip, pointing out that after testing onions in water, milk, and vinegar, the water was actually the best option; vinegar and milk did relieve the onions of their edge, but they replaced it with other, less desirable flavors. Cook's Illustrated takes their advice one step further, suggesting a baking soda and water solution. "Unlike the other methods, which merely do their best to leach away the offending sulfur compounds, the alkaline baking soda neutralizes sulfenic acid, the immediate precursor to the harsh-tasting thiosulfinates, and prevents them from forming in the first place." Allow us to translate: Water is good; water with baking soda is even better.

You don't even need to soak them for an hour

While Cuisine at Home recommends soaking onions for an hour for optimum flavor, other sources claim that the same goal can be accomplished in just 15 minutes. Cook's Illustrated wrote in their study that 15 minutes was the minimum elapsed time for any of the soaking methods to produce results.

Elsewhere, the L.A. Times Test Kitchen also reported that 15 minutes was fine. "Soaking the onions for 15 minutes or so in cold water will help to soften the flavor, mellowing it out a bit," they wrote. "Perfect when you're planning your next burger party, or if you're fixing a salad like Nancy Silverton's little gem salad with dates, red onion, and Gorgonzola dolce" — the recipe for which indeed recommends using a bowl of ice water. And if Nancy Silverton is soaking her onions, then you really have no reason not to.

So the next time you're assembling the crew for a big feast and making sure you have all the necessary gear to ensure a perfect meal, take heed and remember this most basic — but most essential — ingredient to success. And if you want to one-up the great Nancy Silverton, roll with Cuisine at Home and go the full hour.