Air Fryer Blooming Onion — Dive into the crispy, flavorful world of the Air Fryer Blooming Onion, a recipe that transforms a simple onion into a stunning and delicious appetizer.
This dish takes the traditional deep-fried blooming onion. It gives it a healthier twist by utilizing the air fryer, significantly reducing the oil without compromising the crispy texture and savory taste. The air fryer circulates hot air around the onion, creating a golden, crunchy exterior with tender, sweet layers inside, making it a perfect dish for sharing and dipping.
If you have been to Outback Steakhouse, you probably ordered everyone’s favorite appetizer, Blooming Onion, served deep-fried with a spicy signature sauce. The air fryer does a fantastic job at frying foods without oil, so it was on my list of things to prepare.
What Is A Blooming Onion?
A Blooming Onion is a visually stunning and delicious appetizer with a whole onion cut to resemble a flower that has “bloomed,” then battered and deep-fried until golden and crispy. Originating as a signature dish in certain chain restaurants, the Blooming Onion has gained popularity worldwide for its eye-catching presentation and irresistible taste. The onion is carefully sliced from the top down, leaving the bottom of the onion intact to hold the sections together, which then fan out into petals after frying.
This appetizer is often served with a variety of onion dipping sauce, typically a spicy or tangy sauce, to complement the sweet, tender layers of the onion. The contrast between the crunchy exterior and the soft interior, along with the flavorful batter coating each petal, makes the Blooming Onion a favorite among those who enjoy savory, shareable treats. Despite traditionally being deep-fried, variations like the Air Fryer Blooming Onion offer a healthier alternative by using significantly less oil while still achieving the desired crispy texture and depth of flavor.
Who Created The Blooming Onion?
The Australian-themed restaurant chain Outback Steakhouse popularized the Blooming Onion, which was introduced as the “Bloomin’ Onion” in 1988 when the first restaurant opened. The dish quickly became a signature appetizer for the chain, known for its visually appealing presentation and delicious taste. The concept involves a whole onion being cut to resemble a flower in bloom, battered, and then deep-fried, served with a special dipping sauce.
While Outback Steakhouse is credited with popularizing the Blooming Onion and making it a staple of American casual dining, similar concepts exist in various cuisines worldwide, indicating that the idea of a fried, flower-like onion dish is not entirely new. However, the branding, specific preparation method, and presentation of the Bloomin’ Onion by Outback Steakhouse have made it uniquely associated with the chain and widely recognized by diners globally.
Why You Will Love This Recipe!
The Air Fryer Blooming Onion recipe is a game-changer for anyone who loves this iconic appetizer but prefers a healthier, less oily version of the deep-fried original. Here are compelling reasons why this recipe will become a new favorite in your culinary repertoire:
- Healthier Option: Utilizing the air fryer drastically reduces the oil needed, making this blooming onion a lighter alternative to the traditional deep-fried version without sacrificing flavor or crunch.
- Crispy Texture: The air fryer’s circulating hot air ensures that every petal of the onion blooms into a crispy, golden delight, mimicking the texture of deep frying perfectly.
- Easy Cleanup: Say goodbye to dealing with a pot full of used oil. The air fryer makes cleanup a breeze, requiring a quick wipe down of the basket.
- Convenience: Making a blooming onion in the air fryer is straightforward and fast, perfect for whipping up an impressive appetizer for guests or a fun snack for movie night.
- Flavorful: Seasoned with a blend of spices and served with your dipping sauce, the air fryer blooming onion delivers a burst of flavors that complement the onion’s natural sweetness.
- Visual Appeal: The blooming onion is tasty and a feast for the eyes. Its unique presentation makes it a conversation starter and a showstopper on any table.
- Versatility: This recipe can be easily adapted to suit different tastes. Spice up the batter with your favorite seasonings or experiment with various dipping sauces to find your perfect match.
Embracing the air fryer method for making a blooming onion allows you to enjoy this beloved appetizer in a new, healthier way. It’s a delicious compromise that delivers all the taste and texture you crave with fewer calories and less guilt.
Ingredients Needed For Air Fryer Blooming Onion
Embark on a culinary adventure from your kitchen with this Air Fryer Blooming Onion recipe, a healthier twist on a beloved appetizer that doesn’t skimp on flavor or fun. By leveraging the air fryer, this recipe transforms a simple onion into a crispy, delectable treat with far less oil than the traditional deep-fried version. Perfect for impressing guests or enjoying a restaurant-style snack at home, this Air Fryer Blooming Onion promises all the taste and spectacle of the original!
Remember the step-by-step directions, full recipe, and detailed ingredient list are below, in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutritional information.
- Sweet Onions or Large Onion: Choose a large, sweet onion like Vidalia for the best flavor and size to create the iconic bloomed appearance.
- Eggs: Act as a binding agent in the batter, ensuring the coating sticks to the onion during air frying
- Buttermilk: Used to moisten the flour mixture, creating a batter that adheres well to the onion.
- All-Purpose Flour: Forms the base of the batter, providing a light coating that crisps up beautifully in the air fryer.
- Onion Powder: To enhance the onion flavor!
- Garlic Powder: Infuses the batter with a rich, savory taste, complementing the onion’s sweetness
- Paprika: Adds a sweet, smoky flavor to the batter, enhancing the onion’s natural sweetness.
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper: Essential seasonings that enhance the overall taste of the blooming onion, bringing out the ingredients’ natural flavors.
- Cayenne Pepper: A pinch of cayenne pepper brings gentle heat to the dish, adding complexity to the flavors.
- Cooking Spray, Non-Stick Cooking Spray, or Cooking Oil: With a good basting brush.
How To Make A Blooming Onion In Air Fryer
Making a Blooming Onion in an air fryer is a healthier alternative to the traditional deep-fried version, offering a crispy, flavorful appetizer with less oil. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating this crowd-pleaser.
Step 1: Prepare The Onion
Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees F, air fryer setting. Slice the top 1/2 inch of the stem end of the onion and peel the whole onion. Place the onion cut side down so the root end faces up on a flat surface or cutting board.
With a sharp knife, about 1/2 inch from the root, cut down four slices so the onion is now cut into fourths but still intact.
Make three more precise cuts between those cuts, making sure not to cut through the root or accidentally cut off a chunk. Turn the onion right side up, gently separate the petals, and then set aside.
Step 2: Prepare The Batter
Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together in a large bowl big enough to fit the onion.
Whisk together the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, salt, and cayenne in another medium-sized bowl large enough to fit the onion.
Step 3: Dip The Onion Into The Batter
Dip onion in the buttermilk mixture the best you can, coating everything. You may need to use your hands to give the onion a good soak.
Place onion into the flour and coat with the flour. Separate the petals of the onion in each step to make sure to coat. Shake off any excess flour.
Dip the onion again in the buttermilk mixture and again in the flour mixture. You can also open the petals and sprinkle the flour inside to ensure everything is coated.
Step 4: Air Fry Onion Blossom
Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray or brush it with olive oil. Place the coated onion in the air fryer cut side into the basket. Spray very generously with cooking spray.
Air fry the onion blossom for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and the onion is tender. About every 8 minutes, open the air fryer and spray more cooking spray on top.
How To Cut Onion For Blooming Onion
Cutting an onion for an air fryer blooming onion will require some practice, but here is how to do it in steps:
- Step 1: Slice the top 1/2 inch of the stem end of the onion and peel the whole onion.
- Step 2: Place the onion cut side down so the root end faces up on a cutting board.
- Step 3: Using a knife, about 1/2 inch from the root, cut down four slices so the onion is now cut into fourths but is still intact. Make three more precise cuts between those cuts, ensuring that it does not cut through the root. Turn the onion right side up, gently separate the petals, and set aside.
Creating a Blooming Onion in the air fryer opens up a world of possibilities for customization, including adapting the recipe to fit gluten-free and keto dietary needs. Here are some variations to ensure everyone can enjoy this delightful appetizer, regardless of their dietary preferences.
Classic Variation: Spicy Blooming Onion: Add spices such as chili powder, ground cumin, and more cayenne pepper to the flour mixture for a spicier kick. Serve with a spicy mayo or hot sauce for dipping.
Gluten-Free Blooming Onion:
- Replace the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend that mimics the properties of regular flour.
- Ensure the breadcrumbs are also gluten-free; many stores offer gluten-free panko or regular breadcrumbs. Alternatively, you can make your own by pulsing gluten-free bread in a food processor.
- Double-check all other ingredients to ensure they’re gluten-free, especially the spices and baking powder.
Keto Blooming Onion:
- Substitute the all-purpose flour with almond or coconut flour for a keto-friendly option. Almond flour is preferable for a milder taste.
- Replace regular breadcrumbs with crushed pork rinds mixed with grated Parmesan cheese, which gives a crispy coating without adding carbs.
- For the wet mixture, continue using eggs, but substitute the milk with heavy cream or unsweetened almond milk to keep it low-carb..
Creating the perfect Air Fryer Blooming Onion involves a blend of technique and creativity. Here are some pro tips to ensure your blooming onion turns out deliciously crispy and flavorful every time:
- Choosing the Right Onion: Select a large, sweet variety like Vidalia for the best flavor and size. A bigger onion not only makes for a more impressive presentation but also allows for easier cutting and more “petals” to enjoy.
- Cutting Technique: The key to a beautiful blooming onion is in the cutting. After slicing off the top, place the onion cut-side down and start making vertical cuts all around, being careful not to slice through the bottom. The more sections you make, the more petals your onion will have.
- Opening the Onion: To help the onion “bloom,” use your fingers to gently separate the petals after cutting. Soaking the onion in ice water for a few minutes can help the layers separate more easily, resulting in a more open bloom.
- Breading Success: Ensure thorough coating for the best texture. Dip the onion in the flour mixture, the egg wash, and the breadcrumbs. Use a spoon or brush to get the coating between the petals for even coverage.
- Prevent Soggy Bottoms: Placing a small, heat-proof rack or a ball of aluminum foil under the onion in the air fryer basket can help air circulate underneath, preventing the bottom from becoming soggy.
- Spraying Oil: Lightly spray the breaded onion with cooking oil to help achieve a golden, crispy exterior. A fine mist covers more surface area without soaking the breading.
- Cooking Time and Temperature: Air fryers can vary in their cooking times and temperatures. Start checking on your onion a few minutes before the recipe suggests, adjusting the time as needed. The perfect blooming onion should be golden brown and crispy on the outside.
- Serving Immediately: For the best texture, serve the blooming onion from the air fryer. It’s at its crispiest right after cooking, and the heat from the onion will keep the sauce warm if served alongside.
- Creative Dipping Sauces: While a blooming onion is delicious, pairing it with various dipping sauces can elevate the dish. Experiment with spicy, tangy, or creamy sauces to find your perfect match.
- Reheating Tips: If you have leftovers, reheat your blooming onion in the air fryer at a low temperature to restore its crispiness without burning the edges.
These pro tips will help you master the art of making an Air Fryer Blooming Onion, turning a simple vegetable into an impressive and tasty appetizer that’s sure to wow your guests and satisfy your cravings.
Can I make a blooming onion without a special cutter? Yes, you can! While a special blooming onion cutter makes the process easier, you can achieve similar results with a sharp knife. Carefully make even, vertical cuts around the onion, starting from the top and stopping short of the base to keep the sections connected.
How do I prevent the petals from burning? To prevent the petals from burning, you can cover the top of the onion with a small piece of aluminum foil once it starts to brown. Also, ensure your air fryer is not set too high, and keep an eye on the cooking progress.
What type of onion is best for making a blooming onion? Large, sweet onions, such as Vidalia Onion, Sweet yellow onion, or Walla Walla, are ideal for blooming onions due to their size, sweetness, and mild flavor.
Can I prepare a blooming onion in advance? You can prepare the onion by cutting it and soaking it in ice water up to a few hours in advance. However, for the best results, coat and air fry the onion just before serving to ensure it’s crispy and warm.
Is it necessary to soak the onion in ice water? Soaking the onion in ice water helps the petals to open up more fully and can improve the texture, but it’s not strictly necessary. You can skip this step if you’re short on time, although the onion might not “bloom” as dramatically.
What can I serve with a blooming onion? Blooming onions are often served with dipping sauces such as spicy ranch, horseradish sauce, or a tangy remoulade. They can also be served alongside grilled meats or as part of a larger appetizer spread.
Can leftovers be reheated? Yes, although the onion may not be as crispy as when first cooked. Reheat leftovers in the air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for a few minutes until warmed through and slightly crisped up.
How do I ensure the onion is fully cooked but not overdone? Start checking the onion for doneness a few minutes before the recommended cooking time. Each air fryer can vary, so adjustments may be necessary. The onion should be tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
Can I use this method with other vegetables? Absolutely! While the iconic dish is made with onions, you can experiment with similar techniques on vegetables like bell peppers or whole mushrooms for a delightful twist.
How can I make this recipe gluten-free? For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free all-purpose flour and breadcrumbs. Ensure all other ingredients, such as spices and sauces, are certified gluten-free.
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Air Fryer Blooming Onion
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper, or black pepper
- Preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees F, air fryer setting.
- Slice the top 1/2 inch of the stem end of the onion and peel the whole onion.
- Place the onion cut side down so the root end is facing up on a cutting board.
- Taking a knife, about 1/2 inch from the root, cut down four slices, so the onion is now cut into fourths but still intact. Between those cuts, make three more even cuts, making sure not to cut through the root or accidentally cut off a chunk. Turn the onion right side up and generally separate the petals, set aside
- In a medium-sized bowl, big enough to fit the onion, whisk the eggs and buttermilk together, set aside.
- In another medium-sized bowl large enough to fit the onion, whisk together the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and cayenne.
- The best you can dip the onion in the buttermilk mixture, coating everything. You may need to use your hands for this. Place the onion into the flour and coat with the flour. Separate the petals in each step to make sure to coat. Shake off any excess flour. Dip the onion once again in the buttermilk mixture the once again in the flour mixture. You can also open the petals up and sprinkle the flour inside to make sure everything is coated.
- Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
- Place the onion cut side up into the basket.
- Spray very generously with cooking spray.
- Air Fry for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown, and the onion is tender.
- About every 8 minutes, open up the air fryer and respray cooking spray on top.
- Serve with the dipping sauce.
- Air Fryer
- Cooking Spray
- Parchment Paper, optional