You can’t beat homemade onion rings for frugality and great taste… and when you make them yourself, they will contain only onions, flour, milk, eggs, and a small amount of baking powder, salt, and oil. I was curious about the ingredients in the commercially sold onion rings, so the last time I went shopping I copied the ingredient label:
Ingredient list for commercial ready-to-heat onion rings:
Onions, enriched wheat flour, vegetable oil (soy or canola), yellow corn flour, modified food starch, water, corn starch, wheat flour, caramel color, guar gum, leavening, paprika, salt, sodium alginate, spice, sugar, whey, yeast
I dip the raw onion rings (ordinary yellow onions cut in approximately 1/4-inch slices) into a fritter batter (1 egg, 1/4 cup milk, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 tablespoon oil all mixed together)… fry the rings in olive oil until they are golden brown, and drain. If you keep the oil temperature at 375°F, the onion rings will absorb almost none of the oil.
All of the onion rings on this plate (about thirty) were made from one onion. A package of thirty ready-to-heat onion rings costs $1.99. This week onions are two pounds for 99 cents. Since there are four or five medium-sized onions in a pound, the cost of each onion is approximately 10 to 15 cents. Add the batter ingredients and this plate of onion rings costs under 20 cents.
I don’t make onion rings very often, but when I do, I make a huge batch and freeze meal-sized portions (allowing five or six onion rings for each person) in individual bags. The onion rings re-heat very quickly in the oven (uncovered so they stay crisp) and turn even the most ordinary meal into a special occasion.