Finding a crunchy treat to satisfy your snack cravings may seem tricky, but we’ve taken the guesswork out of it. Simply make a “bloomin’ onion” — a fried whole onion with plenty of crispy pieces you can pull apart and enjoy. This snack will likely remind you of onion rings as it’s golden on the outside and soft on the inside. But a bloomin’ onion’s unique flower-like shape allows for more crunchy layers once cooked. While it’s a staple appetizer at Outback Steakhouse, you can skip the trip and make a less greasy version at home in under an hour. Keep reading for tips, recipes and flavor ideas for creating a delicious homemade bloomin’ onion that rivals any you’d find in a restaurant!
What is a bloomin’ onion?
A traditional bloomin’ onion is made using an onion that’s carved to look like a blossomed flower. The onion is then coated in a breading or batter and deep-fried until golden. This process creates a fried onion with a crispy, seasoned exterior and sweet and tender interior to serve with a dipping sauce. The bloomin’ onion’s rise to fame can be traced back to 1988, when Outback Steakhouse co-founder Tim Gannon developed the dish to debut on their menu. Although it’s one of the restaurant’s long-standing staples, it’s even tastier — and far less oily — when you make it yourself in the air fryer or in the oven!
The best type of onion for this snack
Sweet onions including Vidalia, yellow and white onions are the top choices when making a traditional version of this snack since they’re large and crisp up nicely. On the other hand, a smaller variety like pearl onions works well when preparing miniature-sized bloomin’ onions. Once you’ve picked out your preferred onion variety, keep a few more tips handy to nail this classic appetizer.
3 tips for making a tasty bloomin’ onion
1. Soak the onion to balance the taste.
If you have time, soak the unsliced onion in a large bowl filled with water overnight in the fridge. This step helps draw out any harsh onion taste and even allows it to fan out better into the blossom shape once cut. Just be sure to completely dry off the soaked onion before carving it.
2. Keep the root attached to the onion.
To create the blossom shape on a bloomin’ onion, make sure the root stays intact. The root will keep all of the onion pieces attached, so they don’t fall off in the oven or air fryer. Plus, it makes it easier to serve in one whole piece. (Watch this video from HDMD Knives to see how to cut a bloomin’ onion using a sharp chef’s knife.)
3. Cover the onion with foil for more even cooking.
When air frying a bloomin’ onion, cover it with a piece of foil after about 10 minutes to prevent the top from cooking faster than the bottom. Afterwards, your fully cooked and crisp onion will be ready to cool and serve.
2 delicious Outback-inspired bloomin’ onion recipes
The recipes below prove that this classic appetizer doesn’t need to be fried in a vat of oil to achieve a crackling crust. Instead, preheat your oven or air fryer and make these bloomin’ onion recipes the next time your snack craving strike — no grease splatters or cooking in batches necessary!
Air-Fryer Bloomin’ Onion with Smoky Sauce
Our test kitchen’s bloomin onion’ recipe uses Old Bay seasoning and a quick-fix dip to give the snack extra mmm — and making it in an air fryer instead of deep frying lets up cook up with 66 fewer grams of fat per onion.
- ½ cup bottled Thousand Island salad dressing
- 1 Tbs. prepared horseradish (not drained)
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1 large sweet onion, about 1 lb.
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
- Yield: 6 servings
- In bowl, mix dressing, horseradish and paprika; chill. Place crisper plate in basket of 5.5-quart air fryer. Coat plate with cooking spray. Place basket in air fryer; heat to air-fry at 300°F.
- Peel onion, leaving root intact. Trim ¼-inch from bottom of onion. Making sure not to cut all the way through onion, cut into 16 wedges. Gently pull layers away from center.
- Whisk egg and half-and-half. Mix flour and seasoning. Coat onion with some of flour mixture; brush with egg mixture. Coat in remaining flour mixture; coat with cooking spray. Air-fry 10 minutes before covering with foil and continuing to cook another 20 to 25 minutes, until onion is tender and coating is crisp.
- Serve with sauce.
Blooming Onion Bites
For bite-sized bloomin’ onions, Maegan Brown, founder and blogger at The BakerMama, shares this recipe from her cookbook, Brilliant Bites. Although they require a little bit of prep, she promises these crispy onion bites “will be the talk of any party because they’re too tasty to be true!”
- Nonstick cooking spray, for greasing
- 24 white pearl onions (about 1½ inches, in diameter)
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tbs. ketchup
- 2 tsp. horseradish
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ¼ tsp. dried oregano
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Yield: 24 bites
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cut pearl onions into blooms by removing pointy end of each onion, then peel away outer skin. Do not cut off the base because that will hold it together. Lay onion cut side down and, starting ⅛ inch from top, make vertical cuts downward all around onion. You should have 5 or 6 slits, depending on size of onion. Intact base will hold onion pieces together. Separate the layers with your hands so they start to bloom out. Repeat with the remaining onions.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 Tbs. water until well combined, then transfer to large resealable plastic bag. Add the onions to the bag and toss to coat in the egg mixture.
- In separate medium bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, flour, sugar, 1 tsp. garlic powder, onion powder, 1 tsp. paprika, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper for coating. Pour mixture into another large resealable plastic bag. Transfer onions to bag, seal and toss until onions are coated completely.
- Place onions on prepared baking sheet, bloom sides up and spray them with cooking spray. Bake on middle rack of oven 20 minutes, or until golden brown and crisped all over. If not crispy enough, turn broiler on high and broil 3 to 4 minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning. Let set for 3 to 4 minutes on pan before serving.
- For dipping sauce: In small bowl, whisk together all sauce ingredients until well combined.
- Serve with dipping sauce or keep warm in 200°F oven until ready to serve so onions stay crisp.
5 seasoning ideas for a homemade bloomin’ onion
For an extra flavorful bloomin onion, add any of these five seasonings once it’s cooked!
1. BBQ Bloomin Onion
Lightly sprinkle the air-fried or baked onion with BBQ seasoning for a smoky and sweet taste.
2. Ranch Bloomin Onion
Ranch seasoning is a great addition to a bloomin onion as it provides the snack with a nice tangy flavor.
3. Lemon Pepper Bloomin Onion
A dash of lemon pepper seasoning gives this treat a citrus zing and peppery bite.
4. Spicy Bloomin Onion
If you enjoy spicy snacks, sprinkle the top of the onion with crushed or whole red chili flakes.
5. Truffle Salt Bloomin Onion
For a gourmet bloomin onion, top it with an earthy and pungent truffle salt like Kinder’s Salt Blends Seasoning Truffle Salt (Buy from Walmart, $5.98).
To whip up more yummy snacks, check out the recipes below:
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