What Are Onion Straws?

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

Onion straws are tangy, batter-coated fried onions used as an appetizer, side dish, or garnish. Like onion rings, onion straws are crispy and often greasy. Also known as onion strings or tanglers, they are thinner than typical onion rings, and are formed in the shape of tangled strings, which is where the food gets its name.

Paprika, which is often used to make onion straws.
Paprika, which is often used to make onion straws.

These fried onions are not particularly nutritious, and do not contain many vitamins or minerals. They may be high in calories, depending upon how many are consumed and how the onions were prepared. Thinly sliced onions soaked in buttermilk make up the bulk of the dish. After soaking, the onions are dredged in a mixture of flour and herbs before being fried and served hot.

Onion straws are not particularly nutrition as they are pieces of fried onion.
Onion straws are not particularly nutrition as they are pieces of fried onion.

Each individual recipe for onion straws may vary. Most call for salt and pepper in the flour mixture. Cayenne pepper is a frequent ingredient used to season the savory snack as well. Some people use beer or milk in their batter, as well as garlic or paprika. Canola and peanut oil are often used in frying the onions, which should be drained well on a paper towel prior to serving.

When served as an appetizer, onion straws are often accompanied by a spicy complementary dipping sauce. Tanglers are also a popular item to serve with appetizer sampler platters, particularly in bar and grill establishments. Many restaurants also allow customers to substitute them as a side dish with a meal if requested.

Crispy onion straws are most commonly served, however, as a topping or garnish to certain foods. Barbecued items, or sandwiches featuring barbecue sauce, are often topped with thin fried onions. Other favorite foods that onion strings are often used to garnish include sloppy joes and vegetables, such as mashed potatoes.

French fried onions are another name that these foods are known by. These may be purchased in most grocery stores and implemented into any home cooked dish. French fried onions are popularly used on holiday dishes, such as green bean casserole. They are also very tasty on top of steaks, hamburgers, and fish dishes made at home. Some people enjoy simply snacking on them from the container, as one might with potato chips.

Commercially sold French fried onions are usually available in a cylindrical cardboard canister that can be easily re-sealed. Some companies sell larger containers of these onion straws that are much wider and rounder. These are typically plastic.

Sara Schmidt
Sara Schmidt

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Sara has a Master’s Degree in English, which she puts to use writing for wiseGEEK and several magazines, websites, and nonprofit organizations. She has published her own novella, and has other literary projects currently in progress. Sara’s varied interests have also led her to teach children in Spain, tutor college students, run CPR and first aid classes, and organize student retreats.

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