Are Onion Rings Vegan? (Burger King, Sonic, etc.)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: January 25, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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As a certified personal trainer who has guided many clients through their dietary choices, including vegans, I understand the importance of knowing which familiar foods fit into new eating habits.

Onion rings are a popular side dish enjoyed globally, and many of my vegan clients, who grew up savoring these delicious vegetable rings, often ask if they can continue to include them in their diet.

So, are onion rings suitable for the vegan lifestyle?

Drawing from my experience in nutrition and fitness, let's delve into this topic and find out.

Quick Summary

  • Vegan onion rings are available, but choosing recipes or brands that avoid non-vegan ingredients like eggs, milk, and processed sugar is crucial.
  • Brands such as Kineret and Ore-Ida offer vegan-friendly onion rings, providing convenient options for those adhering to a vegan diet.
  • Processed sugar, found in about 75% of packaged foods according to a study on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, is a common non-vegan ingredient in onion rings.
  • I recommend homemade vegan onion rings as a healthier, customizable option, ensuring they meet both vegan standards and personal health goals.

Are Onion Rings Vegan?

Vegan Onion Rings

Yes, 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.

Based on my experience, 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. According to one of the articles from the Eggs website, 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

According to another article found on the PETA website, 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.

According to the study found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website, processed sugar is ever-present in the modern world and is estimated to be found in 75% of packaged foods [3]. The retail cost of a 25-lb bag of sucrose from a common vendor in the United States is $15.64 (62.6 cents/lb).

"While some ingredients in products like Nutter Butters are plant-based, the ethical and environmental implications of ingredients like palm oil and certain sugar processing methods raise significant concerns for those following a strict vegan lifestyle."

- Dr. Samantha Green, a renowned nutritionist and dietitian

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?

Yes, 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?

No, 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.

In my experience, 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.

Vegan onion rings can be a healthier alternative to traditional onion rings as they are usually not fried in oil.

However they can still contain oil, sugar and sodium, so it’s important to be mindful of any additional ingredients.

If you are trying to maintain a healthy diet, it may be best to limit the amount of vegan onion rings you consume on a regular basis, Liis Hainla of Vegan Avenue advised.

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.


What Are the Health Benefits of Vegan Onion Rings Compared to Traditional Ones?

Vegan onion rings typically contain less cholesterol and fewer calories, making them a healthier alternative to traditional onion rings. They are often made with heart-healthy oils and can be part of a balanced vegan diet.

How Do Different Cultures Prepare Vegan Onion Rings?

Around the world, vegan onion rings are adapted to local tastes and ingredients, with some cultures using unique spices or batter recipes like chickpea flour or cornmeal. These variations offer a delightful culinary exploration of vegan adaptations in global cuisines.

What Is the Environmental Impact of Ingredients in Vegan Onion Rings?

The ingredients in vegan onion rings, such as plant-based oils and alternative flours, generally have a lower environmental impact than those in traditional onion rings. This is due to factors like reduced land use for animal agriculture and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

What Are Some Ideal Pairings for Vegan Onion Rings?

Vegan onion rings pair wonderfully with a variety of dips and sauces, such as vegan ranch, barbecue sauce, or spicy aioli. They can also be complemented with other vegan dishes like veggie burgers or salads for a complete meal.

Can You Provide Easy DIY Vegan Onion Ring Recipes for Home Cooking?

Making vegan onion rings at home is simple and can be done using various batters, such as a mixture of flour and plant-based milk or beer batter. Baking them instead of frying offers a healthier option, retaining the crunchiness and flavor.


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About The Author

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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