Photography and Styling: Caitlin Bensel
Active Time
20 Mins
Total Time
3 Hours 15 Mins
Yield
Serves 6 (serving size: about 1/3 cup)

Blooming onions are the ultimate appetizer. From their pretty presentation to their restaurant-quality flavor, this crispy, sliced dish is addicting, especially when dunked in just the right sauce. If you’ll looking for something to pull apart that’s not totally fried, just grab your air fryer. It’s a cinch to make if you’ve got the expert tips, and our Test Kitchen is here to dish.

To create a crunchy, breaded texture and a fully cooked onion that holds its signature shape, be sure to start with a large onion. If you have the time, soak your onion in cold water overnight to allow it mellow a bit and “bloom” better. Use deep, small bowls for dunking so you don’t have to handle the onion as much, which can mess up the petals. After the first dunk, let the onion sit for 5 minutes and double dunk. The first dunk will give the second round of batter a good hold so it sticks and coats better. Serve it immediately (it doesn't sit well!) with some cold beers and dipping sauce, and it will be devoured in no time.

How to Make It

Step 1

Prepare the Onion: Cut about 1/4-inch from top of onion; cut root end of onion so that it stands up on a flat surface. Remove and discard peel. Starting at top of onion, cut vertical slices at 1/2-inch intervals to within 1/4-inch of bottom of onion. Place onion in a bowl with cold water to cover, and chill at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.

Step 2

Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a medium-size deep bowl. Whisk together flour, paprika, garlic powder, mustard, cayenne, cumin, black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in a separate medium-size deep bowl. Cover and chill egg mixture until ready to use.

Step 3

Drain onion, and pat dry. Sprinkle onion with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Preheat a 6.3-quart air fryer to 350°F for 10 minutes. Place wrapped onion in air fryer basket, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from cooker, unwrap and remove foil from top and sides of onion. Let onion stand until cool enough to handle. Remove from foil, and carefully fan out petals of onion.

Step 4

Dip entire onion in egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Dip onion in flour mixture, making sure all petals are evenly coated. Tap off excess. Allow onion to stand 5 minutes. Dip onion again in egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off; dip again in flour mixture again, tapping off excess. Place onion in air fryer basket, and liberally coat with cooking spray. Cook at 350°F until crispy and golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Step 5

Prepare the Sauce: Stir together all ingredients. Serve onion immediately with sauce.

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