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Are Onion Rings Vegan?
Everything You Should Know

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED
Last updated: April 14, 2021

Onion rings are a popular side dish around the world. Since many vegans grew up eating these delicious vegetable rings, they want to know if they can continue enjoying them.

So, are onion rings suitable for the vegan lifestyle? Read on to discover!

Are Onion Rings Vegan?

Vegan Onion Rings

Onion rings can be vegan.

But, the original recipe calls for ingredients like eggs and milk.

A lot of onion rings in restaurants are mostly non-vegan, while many store-bought are vegan-friendly.

So, let’s break down the details!

3 Problematic Ingredients

Collage of onion rings

First things first, let’s make it clear what can make onion rings non-vegan. These are the ingredients you need to look out for when browsing a restaurant menu, looking for recipes, or buying pre-made onion rings:

1. Milk

If you're a fan of onion rings, you'll know that not all onion rings have the same texture, and the use of milk is one of the main culprits for this.

The beer batter onion rings have a nice bread-like consistency, while the crunchier, crispy onion rings typically have a flaky crust that crumbles easily.

The main reason for this is that some recipes forego eggs, so the batter doesn’t hold together well. If the batter doesn’t contain eggs, it usually contains milk. The onions are dipped then in a mixture of milk and seasonings and rolled into a bowl of flour.

2. Eggs

If the batter doesn’t contain milk, it usually contains eggs. Eggs have many useful features, and binding ingredients together is one of them [1]. Onion rings are breaded and battered in a mixture bound with eggs.

The mixture doesn't allow much time for gluten formation. Batters differ from the dough as they contain lots of water which prevents gluten development.

Gluten is a naturally present protein in flour that allows the ingredients to combine and provides an elastic structure.

This is where eggs come in handy since they provide an outside protein source. Eggs mix with other ingredients, harden when cooked, and give the breading structural integrity.

High protein content makes the eggs a great binding agent. During cooking, the heat thickens the protein, providing the onion rings with structural strength.

More often than not, fast food and restaurant onion rings contain both milk and eggs, which is double trouble for vegans.

3. Processed Sugar

Many vegans avoid processed sugar as there’s a possibility animal bone char is used during the processing [2]. This makes sugar automatically non-vegan. So, unless a product is labeled as vegan, you may want to avoid it if the ingredients list includes processed sugar.

Are Burger King Onion Rings Vegan?

No, Burger King onion rings aren’t vegan. Different restaurants have different formulations, so it would be best to ask the staff if animal products are used in the formulation.

Burger King doesn’t use eggs in its batter, but it uses whey — a milk protein. Whey is found only in dairy, so it’s always a dairy derivative and can never be vegan.

Are Sonic Onion Rings Vegan?

Sonic Onion Rings are vegan, and you can enjoy them guilt-free. Sonic restaurants use batter free from both eggs and milk. However, they contain soy, wheat, and gluten, so be careful if you're allergic or intolerant to these ingredients.

2 Store-Bought Vegan Onion Rings

Vegan Onion rings that you can buy on a store

If you don't want to experiment with restaurants and fast-food chains, you can buy vegan onion rings in a store. However, you should always pay attention to the ingredients.

1. Kineret Onion Rings

Kineret Onion Rings are vegan-friendly since they’re made with diced onions, enriched bleached wheat flour, vegetable oil (soybean oil or canola oil), yellow corn flour, cornstarch, bleached wheat flour, wheat flour, water, salt, sugar, yeast, calcium chloride, sodium alginate, caramel color, paprika oleoresin color, modified food starch, guar gum, modified corn starch, leavening, natural flavor.

2. Ore-Ida Onion Ringers

Ore-Ida Onion Ringers are another excellent vegan choice. They're made with onions, enriched flour, vegetable oils (soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, or canola oil), bleached wheat flour, wheat flour, yellow corn flour, modified cornstarch, water, sugar, salt, guar gum, wheat starch, yeast, sodium alginate, calcium chloride, methylcellulose, spice extract, leavening, natural flavor, caramel color, oleoresin of paprika (color).

Are They Healthy?

Plant-based and vegan don't automatically translate to healthy. The onion itself is very healthy food. It contains lots of fiber, prebiotic fiber, and numerous essential nutrients. Onions also help detoxify the body and boost your overall wellness.

Unfortunately, almost all of this is lost when the onion rings are deep-fried.

Onion rings are a fun and tasty food, but they’re not the healthiest choice, so you should enjoy them only occasionally to avoid consuming too much saturated fat.

Homemade Vegan Recipe

Vegan Onion Rings on a wooden surface

If you don't trust restaurants and commercial onion rings, you can try to make your vegan onion rings. Here's a simple recipe I love.

You'll need:

  • Panko breadcrumbs for a crispy texture
  • 12oz vegan beer
  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • Garlic powder and paprika (optional)

Or, experiment and add spices you like.

If you want to make a healthier version, you'll need an air fryer, but if you want to achieve a crisp, bubble batter, you may want to use vegetable oil and deep fry them.

  1. Mix the flour, garlic powder, paprika powder, salt, and sift them into the beer. Whisk as you go to combine the ingredients well and to get that bubbly texture.
  2. Now, dip an onion ring into the mixture, make sure the coating is even, and drop it into the pre-heated oil—Cook the ring for about two minutes or until you get the desired texture.

Are Onion Rings Vegan? The Final Verdict

Even though onion rings are vegan, you shouldn’t eat them very often.

Onions themselves are good for your health, but onions coated in flour and fried in oil lose their nutrients.

What are your thoughts on onion rings? Share your views in the comments!


References:

  1. https://www.eggs.ca/eggs101/view/95/food-science
  2. https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/are-animal-ingredients-included-in-white-sugar/

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