Are Onion Rings Vegan or Vegetarian? (Multiple Brands Analyses)


onion rings vegan

Onion rings are a prevalent side dish or appetizer usually found in North and South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and South Africa. Well, it’s almost everywhere. Since they’re so famous, many vegans and vegetarians have been enjoying this appetizer and would like to know whether they could still consume them after switching to a 100% plant-based diet.

Are they vegan? Onion rings are usually vegan, but a typical recipe required egg and milk. The right quantity of the fresh onion rings you see in restaurants is likely to be non-vegan, whereas the highly processed variety found in the grocery stores or fast-food restaurants is vegan.

Are they vegetarian? The onion rings are just right for Lacto-Ovo vegetarians. They are a subset group of vegetarians that consume eggs and dairy as their only source of animal protein. 

We are not saying that it is not possible to get vegan onion rings in restaurants, but even if you get, it will perhaps be from a vegan restaurant or one selling vegan specialty products.

Here, we will check the different ingredients that make onion rings as non-vegan, and how can we replace those ingredients. Afterward, we’ll review the vegan and vegetarian status of onion rings from some fast-food restaurants. We will also list some vegan-friendly onion rings available in the market.

Why Onion Rings Are Non-Vegan

Most Onion Rings Contain Egg

Eggs help in providing many useful functions, and binding is one of those functions. Onion rings are battered in a quick bread. These batters are immediately mixed and don’t allow any time for gluten formation.

Gluten is a protein that is naturally available in wheat flour and gives an excellent elastic structure and allows different ingredients to bind. Batters are a little different from dough in the sense that they have a quantity of water, which is not conducive to gluten development.

The eggs provide an additional source of protein. These proteins mix with the other ingredients and harden during cooking, thereby giving the breading a stable structure.

So, the high protein inside the eggs makes them exceptional binders. The onions are dipped in a batter having eggs or dipped in a bowl of beaten eggs and then used for breading.

During the process of cooking them, heat coagulates the protein contained in the eggs, creating a material that binds the other ingredients to the sides of the cooked product. The firmness of protein obtained while cooking of the mixture provides structural strength.

Onion Rings Often Contain Milk

If you savored onion rings before becoming vegan, you might have probably noticed that not all onion rings have the same type of texture. The beer-battered rings usually had a lovely uniform consistency like bread, while the crunchier rings had a flaky crust that usually crumbled very quickly during handling.

It happens as some recipes don’t use eggs in the batter. They don’t hold together properly, but they do provide a texture that some people prefer.

But more often than not, if onion rings don’t use eggs, they usually add milk. The onions are dipped in a mixture of milk having various seasonings, and then they’re rolled in a bowl of flour.

Most of the time, the onion ring batter prepared in restaurants use milk and eggs, which is two-fold trouble for vegans. Lacto-Ovo vegetarians don’t need to worry about eggs or milk, but vegans will have to be extra careful with such onion rings.

Are Burger King Onion Rings Vegan?

Those, as mentioned earlier, was true for generic onion rings that you’ll get in many restaurants. Each restaurant has its recipe, and a few more processed onion rings may replace milk and eggs with less “natural” ingredients.

Are they vegan? No, Burger King onion rings are not vegan. Their batter is eggless, but they use a milk derivative like whey protein. Whey is found in milk only, and so it’s always dairy-derived and therefore not vegan.

They contain

  • Salt, Sugar, and Water
  • Bleached Wheat Flour
  • Dehydrated Onion
  • Modified Corn Starch, Food Starch-Modified
  • Yellow Corn Flour
  • Gelatinized Wheat Starch, Wheat Gluten, Yeast Extract, Dried Yeast
  • Vegetable Gums (Guar Gum, Methylcellulose, Hydroxypropylmethylcellulose)
  • Fructose, Dextrose
  • Onion Powder, Garlic Powder
  • Sodium Alginate, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Leavening (Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate)
  • Sunflower Oil, Grill Flavor (From Sunflower Oil), Canola Oil, Modified Palm Oil, Parfried In Soybean Oil
  • Natural Flavors
  • Whey
  • Spice
  • Corn Starch
  • Sorbitol
  • Calcium Chloride

They almost missed it.

Are Sonic Onion Rings Vegan?

Yes, Sonic onion rings are vegan. They somehow don’t use both milk and eggs in the batter. This is an excellent example of a highly processed food, which is more vegan-friendly, as food factories replace milk and egg with ingredients that have a longer shelf-life.

They don’t mention the ingredients directly on their website, but here is a screenshot of the page displaying allergen information.

Commercial Vegan Onion Rings

Kineret Onion Rings

These contain

  • Diced Onions
  • Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Vegetable Oil (Soybean and Canola)
  • Yellow Corn Flour, Cornstarch, Bleached Wheat Flour, Wheat Flour
  • Water, Salt, Sugar, Yeast
  • Calcium Chloride, Sodium Alginate
  • Caramel Color, Paprika Oleoresin Color
  • Food Starch-Modified
  • Guar Gum, Modified Corn Starch
  • Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate)
  • Natural Flavor

Ore-Ida Onion Ringers

These contain

  • Onions
  • Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid)
  • Vegetable Oils (Soybean, Sunflower, Cottonseed, And Canola)
  • Bleached Wheat Flour, Wheat Flour, Yellow Corn Flour, Modified Cornstarch
  • Water, Sugar, Salt
  • Guar Gum
  • Wheat Starch, Yeast
  • Sodium Alginate, Calcium Chloride
  • Methylcellulose
  • Spice Extract
  • Leavening (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate)
  • Natural Flavor
  • Caramel Color, Oleoresin Of Paprika (Color)

That was the fact file of the vegan status of onion rings.

Thanks for reading.

References

  1. Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation (Page 256). Amy Brown – Wadsworth Cengage Learning – 2011
  2. Burger King Onion Rings. https://www.bk.com/content/onion-rings-0
  3. Sonic Onion Rings. https://offers.sonicdrivein.com/nutrition/allergens.pdf
  4. Blue & White Foods Kineret Onion Rings, 32 oz. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Blue-White-Foods-Kineret-Onion-Rings-32-oz/144538127
  5. Ore-Ida Onion Ringers, 20 oz Bag. https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ore-Ida-Onion-Ringers-20-oz-Bag/135043864

 

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