Here's how to make Outback's Bloomin' Onion at home

When most people think about Outback Steakhouse, they probably think about the Bloomin' Onion. It might not be authentic Australian food, but this appetizer is beyond popular. FoodBeast reports that one in four appetizers ordered at Outback are the Bloomin' Onion, and the company sold 40 million blooms between 2012 and 2015. That's a lot of deep-fried onions!

As Bloomin' Onion lovers, we were curious if it was possible to make this iconic dish at home. So we grabbed a bunch of sweet onions and got to work practicing our knife cuts to create the perfect copycat of Outback's Bloomin' Onion. After eating more fried food than we'd like to admit, we can safely say that this appetizer surprised us: It was so easy to make at home. You don't even need a deep fryer or any fancy kitchen gadgets to pull it off. Simply grab a sharp knife, a large pot (like a Dutch oven), a gallon of neutral oil like canola or peanut oil, a spider strainer, and you're ready to go.

Gather the ingredients to make Outback's Bloomin' Onion

We've had the Bloomin' Onion hundreds of times, but it hasn't been easy to put our finger on what spices make it taste so good. We tried to find out on Outback's website, but they're keeping their Bloomin' secrets close. The only resource we could find was the nutrition information, which didn't share any specific ingredients. It did inform us that the onion contains a whopping 1,950 calories (but don't worry; if you split it six ways, that's only 325 calories per serving).

So we turned to Reddit to find Outback workers willing to spill the goods. One Reddit thread shared a recipe that used a sweet onion battered with an egg wash and flour mixed with spices. Based on comments made by Outback employees, we decided to make ours with an egg and water egg wash (instead of the traditional egg and milk wash). Then, we settled on garlic powder, paprika, salt, cayenne powder, dried thyme, and ground black pepper for the flour mixture. Finally, we added canola oil to our ingredients list for frying.

For a full list of ingredient quantities and step-by-step instructions, scroll down to the directions section.

How do you make Outback's Bloomin' Onion sauce?

We also had to make some assumptions in choosing the ingredients for Outback's Bloomin' Onion Sauce. Some copycat recipes online use milk or sour cream, but we weren't sure if the sauce contains dairy since the only Outback allergen information is their gluten-free menu. So we made the sauce with added sour cream and a version that didn't contain any dairy at all. We thought the dairy-free version was closer to the original, so we went with it.

The sauce itself was super easy to make. Simply combine mayonnaise, ketchup, cream-style horseradish, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Be sure to use the cream-style horseradish instead of the regular kind, though. Our first effort used regular horseradish, and it was way too bold-flavored. Let the flavors come together in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving, and even better if you can let it sit overnight. The sauce is good for about two weeks in the refrigerator, so feel free to make extra.

Choosing an onion to make Outback's Bloomin' Onion

Outback describes the onions used for the Bloomin' Onion as a "special onion," so we took some care when choosing the best variety for our copycat recipe. There are several different types of onions, but we knew we wanted a sweet onion because Outback's Bloomin' Onion isn't sharp or astringent. That meant white and regular yellow onions were out. We could have used red onions, which are milder than white onions, but the color wouldn't be right for this dish. So we chose a sweet onions like Vidalia or Walla Walla, which don't have the harsh flavor usually associated with onions.

It's also important to grab the largest onion you can find. It's much easier to cut it into 16 sections when the onion is larger. Look for one that's the size of a grapefruit or larger. Smaller, orange-sized onions will work in a pinch, but you'll find yourself struggling a little to make some of the cuts.

The best way to make a copycat of Outback's Bloomin' Onion is with seasoned flour

Our first step in creating a copycat of Outback's Bloomin' Onion is to prepare the batter. Instead of making a batter that combines the flour and liquid to create a thick coating, we'll keep the wet and dry ingredients separate. Outback employees on Reddit confirmed that keeping them separate is the best way to coat each petal perfectly for a better fried onion.

Start by combining the flour and spices in a large bowl. It might seem like there are a lot of spices — a tablespoon of garlic powder and paprika, over a teaspoon of salt, and a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper, dried thyme, and ground black pepper. But remember: This seasoned flour is responsible for almost all of the Bloomin' Onion's flavor, so it must be bold.

The other component of the Bloomin' Onion is responsible for making that flour stick. A standard egg wash is made by whisking an egg with a liquid. It's common to use milk, but we learned from Reddit that Outback Steakhouse uses water instead.

Cut the onion to make Outback's Bloomin' Onion

Now that the batter is made, the only other component needed to make Outback's Bloomin Onion is the onion itself. According to Fox News, Outback doesn't hand-cut their onions anymore. They use a machine — Outback employees call it Gloria — to make perfectly cut onions without using a knife. You can buy one of these machines on Webstaurant Store for a cool $465, or you can do what we did: Practice your knife skills and cut them by hand.

Start by removing the top 1/4 inch of the onion and peel off the outer skin. Then, flip the onion over so it sits flat with the root end facing towards you. Using a sharp knife, make four cuts from the root end towards the cutting board, starting about 1/2-inch from the root. If you cut too close to the root, the petals may fall off the onion. When the onion has been cut into quarters, make three additional cuts between each quarter (also 1/2-inch from the root end) to create 16 total slices. When you're finished, carefully turn the bloom over and remove the small pieces from the center. If your onion doesn't open easily, it may be helpful to soak it in ice water for about an hour before proceeding to the next step.

Carefully batter the onion for Outback's Bloomin' Onion

Now that everything is prepared and ready, we can finally batter and deep fry our copycat Outback Bloomin' Onion. Start by preheating about three inches of oil in a Dutch oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have an electric tabletop fryer, fill it to the MAX line.

While the oil is preheating, carefully dunk the onion "bloom" into the egg wash, making sure to get the egg mixture in between each petal. Then, transfer the onion to the seasoned flour. You want to coat the outside of the onion as well as in between each onion petal, so use your hands to separate the onion layers and sprinkle a liberal amount of flour coating inside. It will get pretty messy, so you can use a spoon to assist if you like.

After each petal is coated with flour, you'll want to repeat the process. Getting a thick coating of egg and flour is the only way to create a Bloomin' Onion that looks close to the original. Transfer the onion back to the egg wash, giving it a thorough dunking before you coat each petal with flour a second time.

Fry the onion to finish Outback's Bloomin' Onion

When the oil reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit, reduce the heat to medium-low. You want the oil temperature to drop to 350 degrees when the onion hits the oil, and you want it to stay there for the entire frying time. Cooler oil will make the onion taste oily, but hotter oil will burn the coating without cooking the onion through.

Turn the floured onion so the petals face down and carefully lower it into the hot oil. The oil level will rise significantly and start to bubble vigorously. So long as you didn't add more than three inches of oil in the Dutch oven, it shouldn't overflow. Cook the onion for two to three minutes before carefully flipping it over and the petals face up. Cook for an additional two to three minutes, until the onion is golden brown and tender.

Remove the fried onion to a paper towel and let it drain for one minute. Serve it immediately while it's still piping hot, along with the prepared sauce.

How close did we get to the original Outback Bloomin' Onion?

Was our Bloomin' Onion as visually appealing as Outback Steak House's? Sadly, no. Outback Steakhouse's cooks probably make dozens of Bloomin' Onions in a shift, and they've had a lot more practice than us! It turns out it's harder than you think to dunk a delicately cut onion into egg wash and flour — twice, no less — without the onion falling apart. Some of our outer petals even threatened to fall off, but we were delighted to find that they firmed up as soon as the onion was fried. We did find that, overall, Outback's Bloomin' Onion was more consistently battered than ours. Some of our onion petals clumped together, and some had more coating than others.

When it came to flavor, we had absolutely no complaints. The onion was light and crispy, with a beautiful golden-brown color, and the petals came off easily when we pulled them. The dipping sauce was perfect, too, capturing that simultaneously rich, savory, tangy, and spicy flavor we've come to know and love. We devoured the entire Bloomin' Onion, but had some leftover sauce. Luckily, the sauce is good for a while, and we found out that it makes an excellent spread for sandwiches and wraps.

Directions for making Outback's Bloomin' Onion

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves: 1 Bloomin' Onion

Ingredients:

(For the dipping sauce)

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cream-style horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

(For the Bloomin' Onion)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • Neutral oil for frying, like canola or peanut oil

Directions:

  1. Make the dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Let the sauce sit for at least 30 minutes (or as long as overnight) in the refrigerator before serving. Kept refrigerated, this sauce should be good for about two weeks.
  2. For the Bloomin' Onion, combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika, salt, cayenne powder, dried thyme, and ground black pepper in a large bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the egg and water until the mixture is homogenized. Set aside.
  4. Prepare the onion by removing the top 1/4 inch. Remove the outer skin and discard.
  5. Flip the onion over onto the cut end, leaving the root end intact. Using a sharp knife, make four cuts starting 1/2-inch from the root and cutting down towards the cutting board to create four quarters. Make three additional cuts, also 1/2-inch from the root end, in between each quarter to create 16 total slices.
  6. Carefully turn the onion "bloom" over and remove the small pieces from the center.
  7. In a large Dutch oven, heat about 3 inches of oil. If you're using an electric tabletop fryer, fill the unit to its MAX line.
  8. Preheat the oil to 400 degrees Fahrenheit over medium-high heat, using a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature. When the oil reaches 400 degrees, reduce the heat to medium-low.
  9. Meanwhile, while the oil is heating, carefully dunk the onion into the egg wash, making sure to get the egg mixture in between each petal.
  10. Transfer the onion to the flour mixture. It's really important to get flour in between every petal. The best way is to use your hands to separate the onion petals and liberally sprinkle on a flour coating. You can also use a spoon, if you prefer, your hands will get messy either way.
  11. When each petal is coated with flour, repeat the process, transferring the onion back to the egg wash before coating it with flour a second time.
  12. When the oil is hot, turn the onion so the petals face down and carefully lower it into the hot oil. Adjust the heat so the oil maintains 350 degrees during the entire frying time. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes before flipping the onion over. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the batter is golden brown and the onion is tender.
  13. Remove the onion to a paper towel to drain for 1 minute.
  14. Serve immediately with the prepared sauce