Moonshine Onion Rings

These moonshine onion rings, made with a moonshine batter and fried until golden, are no ordinary onion rings. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne, the crisp batter lets the sweetness of the onions shine through.

A stack of moonshine onion rings on a wooden board.

It’s been known for some time that using vodka—which evaporates quickly—or club soda instead of water makes for a less watery batter for tempura and other fried things. David Chang is one of many modern chefs who’s used vodka this way. This got me thinking: if vodka works, how about my own custom-made moonshine?–Adam Perry Lang

LC Make Mine Moonshine Note

Actually, you don’t really have to secure a stash of moonshine to make these lovelies. Even when you substitute the far more readily available—not to mention legal—vodka, the batter turns out to be somewhere beguilingly barely there—a thin, crackly coating that clings to the onions and shatters at the slightest touch. In the words of one tester, “They were really magnificent. I would describe the end result as thin but melts in your mouth.” Wait, there’s more. “These rings are something special,” she said. Still, this recipe can be used as an excuse to procure some distilled divinity. We got ours from a preacher’s son.

If you’ve got leftover moonshine, whip up a batch of apple pie moonshine. It will be perfect for sipping alongside those crunchy onion rings.

☞ Table of Contents

Onion Rings

A stack of moonshine onion rings on a wooden board.
This onion rings recipe relies on moonshine (or vodka), milk, flour, egg whites, and cayenne for its crisp, light-as-air, barely there crust.

Prep 25 mins
Cook 5 mins
Total 30 mins
6 to 8 servings
788 kcal
5 / 2 votes
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For the onions

  • 8 cups peanut oil
  • 3 large Spanish onions cut into 1/2-inch-thick (12-mm) slices and separated into rings
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

For the batter

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup moonshine or vodka
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • About 4 cups panko breadcrumbs (optional)


Prepare the onions

  • Heat the oil to 350°F (176°C) in a large, deep-sided pot.
  • Meanwhile, place the onions in a large bowl, pour the milk over the top, and toss to coat the onions. Drain the onions, discarding the milk.
  • Place the flour in a large resealable plastic bag, add the salt and pepper, and shake to mix. Working in batches, add some of the drained onions to the flour, seal the bag, and shake vigorously to coat the onions. Spread the onions on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining onions.

Make the batter

  • Whip the egg whites to soft peaks in a large bowl. Fold in the moonshine or vodka. Sift the cornstarch, salt, black pepper, and cayenne over the egg whites and gently fold to combine.
  • Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Place a wire rack near the baking sheet. Spread the panko, if using, evenly on a second baking sheet.
  • Working in batches, add the onion rings to the batter. Using a fork or a slotted spoon, remove the rings from the batter, one at a time, and allow any excess to drain off. If desired, toss the onion rings in the panko and flip them over to coat. One by one, carefully drop the coated onions into the hot oil without crowding them and cook them in small batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the onion rings with a slotted spoon and transfer to the lined baking sheet to drain briefly. Sprinkle with salt and then transfer to the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining onion rings.
  • Serve ’em steaming hot from the oil or still pretty hot.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 788kcal (39%)Carbohydrates: 110g (37%)Protein: 15g (30%)Fat: 21g (32%)Saturated Fat: 4g (25%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 2mg (1%)Sodium: 1904mg (83%)Potassium: 364mg (10%)Fiber: 5g (21%)Sugar: 8g (9%)Vitamin A: 363IU (7%)Vitamin C: 6mg (7%)Calcium: 157mg (16%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

These onion rings rock! This recipe makes you want to eat onion rings every day and forget about dieting forever. I made them using 190 proof (gasp) liquor from my friend, the distiller, but I’m sure vodka would do just fine. I didn’t bother with panko, as the batter was plenty. Frying for 3 minutes was enough as well. Frankly, I can’t wait for my next batch. The batter was rather odd; I had to really try to get it to stay on the rings. But once the rings were coated and fried, they were really magnificent. I’d describe the end result as thin but melt-in-your-mouth. These rings are something special—thin, crisp, and not at all greasy.

Originally published January 04, 2013



  1. Humph grump. Cut to the chase:

    Put a little vinegar in some half n half to sour it. (In my kitchen we refer to half n half as “plantation milk” or just milk. It’s the way milk was at my great aunt’s house.)

    Slice the onions and dump into the milk.

    Fish the onions out and bread them with corn meal; dry a few minutes on a rack.

    Fry in bacon grease or lard; salt.

    Eat standing around the stove; they don’t hold.

  2. I had the best O-rings ever at a little restaurant in Napa (which has since changed ownership). Their secret was soaking the onions in buttermilk. It gave them a sort of blue-cheezy flavor. Would this be an acceptable substitution in this recipe?

    1. Dona K, I like the way you’re thinking! I’m usually hesitant to give an unqualified yes to questions like this, simply because I haven’t tried this recipe with that variation and we only put recipes and suggestions on the site that we’ve tested and that we know and trust. But I honestly see no reason not to try it. I say go for it…and kindly let us know what you think!

  3. My batter turned into a pile with spackle-like consistency and I was wondering if the 2 cups of cornstarch was correct?

    1. Tom, cornstarch always requires frequent mixing, as it settles at the bottom of the bowl and can be, well, spackle-like at times. But I think if you push on, stir very often, you’ll reap the rewards.

      1. When I am next in the vicinity of my deep fryer and a host of Spanish onions, I will indeed push on. Never say never.

    2. Hi Tom, I doubled checked with one of our testers and she confirmed that the batter was an unusual consistency. More of a dredge than an actual batter, and a bit more effort to get it to cover the rings. But, she said it was worth it- the best onion rings rings ever. You could add a bit more liquid to loosen it up a bit if it is really, really thick.

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