Best Frozen Onion Rings: Set Aside the Fries and Try These 5 Frozen Onion Rings

In the world of burger sides, onion rings play second fiddle to french fries. They’ve become victims of their own greatness, relegated to the upgrades section of restaurant menus alongside tots, sweet potato fries, and cups of broccoli-cheddar soup. Really, you want me to pay two extra bucks for fried slices of onion in this economy? I may have dollar bills stapled over my private parts in lieu of clothing, but that doesn’t mean I have a money tree in the backyard. 

The good news is that french fry hegemony is null and void in the frozen aisle, where you can find some pretty-close-to-restaurant-quality onion rings, minus the upcharge. While a lot of frozen rings are made with a macerated onion mush that sort of becomes one with its coating, we were drawn to the varieties made with real slices of onion. Will a flaming-hot piece of wet onion slide out of its breading and slap you in the chin? Maybe. But that’s part of the joy of eating onion rings. 

For this taste test, the Sporked team was joined by Mythical executive assistant Mindy Castillo as we sank our teeth into everything from beer-battered to panko-breaded rings to find out which had the pleasant crispness and real onion flavor that earned them upgrade status. Bad breath be damned.

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Ore-Ida Gourmet Onion Rings

Best of the Best

Ore-Ida Gourmet Onion Rings

Hey, look at the potato people making a great onion ring. Of all the varieties we tried, Ore-Ida’s Gourmet Onion Rings came the closest to approximating rings from a restaurant. Made with nice, thick slices of real onion, these things are like big, greasy bangle bracelets with a breading that packs a lot of crunch. Sporked staff writer Danny Palumbo praised their “bar-slash-restaurant vibes,” and editor-in-chief Justine Sterling liked that the substantial breading separated from the onion rather than creating a homogenous, slightly wet mishmosh. Just don’t get confused and wind up with Ore-Ida Onion Ringers in your cart. They weren’t part of our taste test, but they’re made with minced onion rather than whole slices of onion. It’s a totally different onion ring experience, and not in a good way. Seriously, if every ring in a bag is the same size, that’s a bad, bad sign.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Red Robin Crispy Onion Rings

Best from a Restaurant

Red Robin Crispy Onion Rings

Red Robin may be best known for bottomless baskets of fries, but the burger chain also serves one of the most intimidating apps known to man: the onion ring tower. I’m not sure why, but a dozen onion rings sitting meekly in a paper-lined basket look reasonable; a dozen onion rings stacked on top of each other look like a mountain to be climbed, mouth first. The chain’s frozen aisle rings definitely look like the ones a server would set on your table, and guest taster Mindy really liked their crisp breading. “These are better than I expected,” she said. And, hey, if you want to upset your family by stacking them, one of those stainless steel towers will only set you back about eight bucks.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Alexia Crispy Onion Rings

Best Crunch

Alexia Crispy Onion Rings

When we bit into these, I’m pretty sure a little plaster dust shook loose from the ceiling. “Listen to that crunch,” Danny said. “That’s great.” Made with sweet onions and panko breading, Alexia’s onion rings make a truly satisfying side. We even had the genuine restaurant experience of the warm onion sliding loose from its coating. The breading didn’t have as much salt as some of the other rings we tried, but Danny suggested dipping these in ranch. Or, if you really want to go for it, put them directly on top of a sandwich or burger.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Nathan’s Thick Sliced Battered Onion Rings

Best Battered

Nathan’s Thick Sliced Battered Onion Rings

I’m not sure who’s eating onion rings at Nathan’s when they also serve crinkle-cut fries covered in molten cheese that you eat with a miniature plastic pitchfork, but the NYC hot dog titan’s “world-famous recipe” is a nice addition to the grocery store freezer. Fans of battered rather than breaded rings will love the light coating that accentuates the flavor of the sweet onion within. It’s puffy and airy, kind of like a corn dog batter. All in all, a really good ring.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Food Club Onion Rings

Best Minced

Food Club Onion Rings

This one landed on our list almost solely for its nostalgia factor. Yes, they are made with minced onion, which we generally decided was a bad thing, but we also recognize that some people are just really into the fast-foody experience of eating a cardboard carton of Burger King rings (and shout out to Burger King’s ring sauce, a true delight). Justine compared these to something you’d find at the mall food court. And who doesn’t miss going to town on fried finger foods and then touching a bunch of clothes on the sale rack at Wet Seal with your greasy fingers?

Credit: Ryan Martin / Instacart

Rating:

6/10

Sporks

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About the Author

Gwynedd Stuart

Gwynedd Stuart, Sporked’s managing editor, is an L.A.-based writer and editor who spends way, way too much time at the grocery store. She’s never met an Old El Paso taco or mozzarella stick she didn’t like.

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  • I liked the Nathan’s ones a lot. Oreida I can’t remember the taste

    Reply
  • I’m an Ore-Ida loyalist, AMA

    Reply
    • Which do you prefer, Ore or Ida?

      Reply
  • Nathan’s all the way. Battered onion rings are way better than breaded imo. Breading is usually too thick where with battered the onion cooks more thoroughly.

    Reply