Onion fans will agree that there are few things as savory and delicious as a fried onion ring. It’s a guilty pleasure, true, but the sweet creaminess of cooked onion wrapped in crispy, salty crust is pure yum.
The issue, of course, is that making onion rings is messy, even if you have a fryer and a vat of fresh oil. The shortcut is to track down some tasty crispy fried onions in a package. Crack open the can or package and stack those oniony bits on a burger or inside a grilled cheese sandwich, crunch them on a baked potato, scatter them on soup or salad — or use them to make the ever-popular green bean casserole.
While French’s has deep roots in the category — and includes the ubiquitous casserole recipe on its label — a host of additional options, primarily store brands, have squeezed onto store shelves. Ingredients and nutrition details on these brands are nearly identical, but the contents of those packages range from tan to dark brown, large “slices” to tiny bits.
One detail to know about these crispy onions is that while they do include onions, most brands appear to be made with pureed onion mixed with oil and flour — then extruded to look a bit like sliced onions.
Great crispy fried onions are made with lots of fresh, sweet, aromatic onions. They’re fried in fresh oil until they’re deep golden brown and deliver an ultra-toasty, salty, umami punch tasty enough to eat as a snack. Sadly, few hit that mark. The worst crispy onions are undercooked, over-salted bits of fried flour that taste more like oil than onion.
Here are details on crispy onions that will elevate everything from dip to soup, and the icky, crispy onion counterfeits. Nutrition info refers to 7 grams or about 2 tablespoons.
Trader Joe’s Gourmet Fried Onion Pieces
These super-toasted bits have bold onion flavor. They’re tiny crumbles, but they’re as crispy and tasty as a true onion ring. 45 calories, 3 g fat, 35 mg sodium. $2.99 for 6 ounces. (4 stars)
Fresh Gourmet Crispy Onions
Deep brown, sizable bits of oniony goodness push this brand to the top. The light touch of salt is an added plus. Note that these come in a “lightly salted” version that has the same sodium content. 40 calories, 3 g fat, 15 mg sodium. $2.49 for 3.5 ounces at Sprouts; available in bulk at Costco. (4 stars)
Lars Own Imported Crispy Onions
These authentic onion bits bits deliver powerful onion flavor, because they are actual bits of onion, fried golden brown. While the sulphur hit of onion is a bit much when eaten out of hand, these would be great in a cooked dish. 40 calories, 3 g fat, 35 mg sodium, 1 g protein. $3.79 for 4 ounces at Whole Foods. (3½ stars)
Great Value French Fried Onions
Even though these shreds taste more like flour than onion, they’re nicely browned and have a light, delicate crunch thanks to the use of sunflower oil. 40 calories, 3 g fat, 25 …read more
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