Popular with many consumers who enjoy fried foods, this appetizer is a common menu item in the U.S. as well as regions throughout the world. Sweet onions are the best choice for making Onion Rings since they hold up well and provide a pleasant flavor when fried. Sweet onions have a higher moisture and sugar content, so the flavor is more mellow than stronger varieties of onions. To prepare Onion Rings, a sweet onion is cut crosswise and sliced into 1/4 inch widths so each slice contains rings of onions that can be seperated from the whole slice. The Onion Rings are then coated with flour, dipped in a batter, and placed into a fryer containing hot cooking oil. As the Rings fry they become crisp and golden brown in color. They are typically served without a condiment, but may be dipped in any type of sauce such as ketchup or a mayonnaise or sour cream-based dip.
As Onion Ring recipes have evolved, several variations of the Rings have been developed which have gained in popularity. One such recipe is Tobacco Onions which use a combination of red and yellow Spanish onions dredged in flour and seasoned with cayenne pepper and paprika to create this favorite appetizer. The spicy flavor of the Rings and the darkened and shriveled apperance of the fried onions made the Onion Rings resemble shredded tobacco leaves, hence the name.