Spicy buttermilk onion rings DSC6479

Spicy buttermilk onion rings

There was a lot of chatter last week about a certain California hamburger chain that opened in the Dallas area. Apparently, people were so excited they camped out all night so they could be the first in line to try these fast-food burgers, and news reports said that one woman even cried when she finally ate her burger.

Now that’s a head scratcher. Why the heck are people so excited about this burger? First of all, Texas is not only the place where the burger was born, but also many of its countless burger joints routinely top national best-of lists. But even more troublesome to me is that this California burger chain doesn’t even offer the quintessential Texas hamburger side dish—yes, I’m talking about onion rings.

Onion rings are said to have been invented by The Pig Stand—a Texan drive-in restaurant chain that opened in Dallas in 1921. (The Pig Stand is also credited with the invention of Texas toast.) That said, you can find plenty of citations of fried onions and French-fried onions dating back to the late 1890s, so perhaps the Pig Stand was the first to serve onion rings at a fast-food establishment.

Spicy buttermilk onion rings | Homesick Texan

Of course, some may argue would say that the origin of onion rings is as debatable as the origin of the hamburger. But since Texas at least claims provenance for both, it makes sense to me to have a stack of onion rings with my cheeseburger. Most Texas-based burger establishments would fulfill this desire, but not that place from California. Nope, if you want onion rings with that burger you’ll just have to make them at home.

In season right now are Texas 1015 sweet onions, which I believe make the tastiest onion rings. If you’re unfamiliar with the Texas 1015, it’s a large sweet onion that grows in the Rio Grande Valley that was developed by Texas A&M in the 1980s, so named because October 15 is the optimal planting date.

Onions are one of Texas’ leading crops and the Texas 1015 is the state’s official onion. They’re similar to other sweet onions such as Georgia’s Vidalia onion and Washington’s Walla Walla onion, but I believe that Texas 1015 sweet onions are the sweetest and the juiciest. They’re so delicious that you can even eat them raw, and it’s quality that makes them optimal for frying, as well.

Spicy buttermilk onion rings | Homesick Texan

I used to wonder why onion rings often cost more than French fries, but after making them at home, I gained an appreciation for the work that goes into creating a perfect batch. Sure, it takes a bit of time and finesse to make sure the breading adheres to the onion, and your frying oil must be the right temperature to keep the onion rings from being soggy. But once you get the hang of it, you will have a plate filled with spicy and crisp fried onion rings—the perfect accompaniment to a Texas burger.

5 from 2 votes

Spicy buttermilk onion rings

Servings 4
Author Lisa Fain


  • 2 large Texas 1015 sweet onions, cut into 1/4-inch rings
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder or chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Oil for frying
  • Ketchup, such as chipotle ketchup, for serving


  • Place the onion slices in a large bowl and cover with the buttermilk. Allow to soak for 15 minutes.
  • Mix together the flour, salt, black pepper, chipotle powder, oregano and cumin. Taste and adjust seasonings. Divide the flour mixture, placing half in a large food-safe plastic bag and the other half on a plate.
  • Heat up 2 inches of oil in a large pot or cast-iron skillet to 350° F. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels.
  • To batter the onions, remove them from the buttermilk, reserving the buttermilk in the bowl, and place them in the plastic-bag with the flour. Shake until coated. Working one-at-a time or in small batches, take the floured onions and dip back into the buttermilk and then dredge in the flour on a plate. Fry in the hot oil until light brown, for about 2 minutes, turning once. Drain on paper towels.
  • Serve warm with ketchup or your preferred dipping sauce.

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  1. lonestaroftejas says:

    For anyone wanting to purchase these delicious onions; but Whole Foods has them, when in season … cheers

  2. lpburke86 says:

    Being from the Corpus area, I forget sometimes that 1015s are hard to find elsewhere. Thank god no other place in this country seems to agree with me, and I always end up coming home.

  3. Wow, these look divine. So worth the effort, I bet! Must make.

  4. I've been a loyal, lurking reader of your wonderful blog from some time now, and have finally decided to comment. As a Louisiana native who lived in Texas for a few years, I can attest to all of the delicious burgers (from Whataburger to Fuddruckers to Hub Cap, Goode Co, etc.) created in Texas. Oh, and a side of onion rings makes a burger a sublime meal, indeed.

    I live in CA now and I can tell you, these CA burger chains are not very good. I'd rather just stay home and eat a PB&J!

  5. These are excellent. Also great for jalapeno poppers…cut tops off, scoop out innards with melonballer, poke holes in bottom with fork. Soak in buttermilk. When ready to fry, stuff with mixture of cream cheese and shredded cheddar.

    Great also for small panfish filets, like bluegill. Leave out the cumin and chili powder, substitute lemon pepper. Mmmmmm.