Enjoying delicious food when you’re trying to stay gluten-free can feel like a constant game of 20 Questions. You’re always wondering what, exactly, has been used to make every dish that you try, and some foods are a lot more challenging to get to the bottom of than others. With that in mind, you might be wondering: are onion rings gluten-free?
Onion rings are typically made with a batter that contains flour. The vast majority of recipes will use flour that contains gluten, so most onion rings are not gluten-free. It is possible to make gluten-free onion rings, though, by simply substituting the type of flour that you use.
Read ahead to find out why most onion rings are not gluten-free and how to make some that are.
What Are Onion Rings And How Are They Made?
To understand where gluten sneaks into the recipe for onion rings, we need to first briefly explain what they actually are.
Onion rings are a staple of British and American restaurants. They are typically served as an appetizer or a side dish and consist of individual rings of onion that are coated in breadcrumbs or batter before being deep fried.
When it comes to gluten, it’s the batter or breadcrumbs that are the problem. Most breadcrumbs obviously contain gluten, and most batter does as well.
“Batter” is quite a general term and there are all kinds of different batters out there, but it refers to a mixture of flour and liquid that is runnier than dough. The typical batter that is used for making onion rings will be made from wheat flour, though there are also a wide range of alternative options as well.
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Are Different Kinds Of Onion Rings Gluten-Free?
Now, it is definitely worth mentioning that onion rings are incredibly versatile, and they’re rarely made in exactly the same way. Almost every restaurant has its own recipe, and all kinds of different ingredients are used.
Some of the most popular variations include:
- Classic Onion Rings
- Beer-Battered Onion Rings
- Southern-Fried Onion Rings
- Buttermilk Onion Rings
- Sourdough Onion Rings
- French Fried Onion Rings
- Stuffed Onion Rings
Unfortunately, almost every kind of onion ring is made with a batter, and the majority of these will use flours that contain gluten. Unless it is clearly stated, it’s best to assume that any sort of onion ring on a menu probably does have gluten in it.
Even sourdough onion rings contain gluten. While the fermentation process for making sourdough does decrease the amount of gluten present, it still contains more than 20 parts per million, which puts it above the threshold required to be considered “gluten-free”.
Can Onion Rings Be Gluten-Free?
While it is true that the majority of the onion rings you will find in restaurants and stores will contain gluten, they don’t have to.
Gluten-free onion rings are pretty easy to make, and many chefs and brands will design their recipes to avoid gluten. These alternatives will use gluten-free flour in place of traditional flour in the batter but otherwise follow pretty much the same recipe.
If a menu doesn’t explicitly label their onion rings as gluten-free, chances are that they are not, but it is probably worth checking just in case. The same is true for any frozen or otherwise pre-prepared onion rings that you find in the grocery store.
Always look at the ingredients list before buying. Where the “batter” or “breadcrumbs” are listed, it should indicate what kind of flour was used. If it is a flour that contains a potential allergen, like gluten, then the ingredient should be in bold. Most packaging will also be pretty clearly labeled if it is considered gluten-free, but this is unfortunately not always the case.
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Gluten-Free Onion Rings Recipe
If you want to know for sure that your onion rings are free from gluten, you can simply make them yourself! The recipe is not too complicated and swapping in gluten-free flour could not be easier.
- 2 Onions
- Gluten-Free Flour, 1 cup (brown rice flour works well)
- Cornstarch, ½ cup
- 1 Egg
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Paprika, 1 tsp
- Milk, 1 cup
- Oil for frying
- Preheat oil to medium heat in a deep/heavy pan.
- Slice onions into ¼ inch slices and separate them into rings.
- Mix the flour and spices in one bowl.
- Combine the milk and egg, then add this to the flour mixture and stir until you have a smooth batter.
- Place the cornstarch in a separate bowl.
- Take your rings and individually dip them first in the cornstarch, then in the batter so that they are coated, then into the hot oil. It’s easiest to fry about 4/5 at a time.
- Cook each ring for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove them and put them aside.
- Serve while they’re still hot!
Summary: Are Onion Rings Gluten-Free?
So, are onion rings gluten-free? Unfortunately, they usually are not. Most onion rings use wheat-based flour in the batter for their recipe, which means that they will contain gluten.
It is incredibly simple to make gluten-free onion rings, though, by simply replacing the flour with a gluten-free alternative.
It’s worth asking at a restaurant or checking the ingredients list on a product to see if the specific rings you want to try are a gluten-free version or not.