Fast Food Onion Rings, Ranked Worst To Best

Whether you're eating onion rings with your burger or as a snack when you're on the run, a quality onion ring can quickly brighten your mood. There's just something magical about a perfectly crispy onion ring that explodes with flavor with each bite. And it's just not Americans who are in love, as onion rings are popular around the world — from South Africa to Ireland to Australia and many places in between.

While the exact origin of the onion ring isn't known, they've been around since at least 1802 when the recipe for what we'd consider to be onion rings appeared in a cookbook. Unless you're on a date, it's difficult to imagine a scenario when getting your hands on a yummy platter of onion rings is a bad idea.

When it comes to fast food onion rings, what you'll receive is hit or miss. Some fast food restaurants have excellent onion rings, while other offerings are embarrassingly poor. In this ranking, we'll separate the good from the bad — beginning with the worst.

16. Burger King's onion rings

When you bite down on Burger King's onion rings, what you will discover is supremely unpleasant and will undoubtedly stop you in your tracks. Instead of using real rings from an actual onion, Burger King instead uses an odd paste that is onion-flavored. It's not unheard of for fast food joints to take shortcuts when preparing their food, but this is ridiculous. How can you serve onion rings without the onions? That's unconscionable.

Lorde, of all people, said it best on the secret Instagram account that she used to run that reviewed onion rings. She called the onion paste that Burger King uses "mulched onion filling" and graded their onion rings as a one — the lowest possible score on her one-to-five scale.

Even if you're desperate for onion rings and nothing else will do, don't go near what Burger King has to offer. Just starve instead. These travesties are an abomination and should offend every other onion ring on the planet.

15. Sonic Drive-In's onion rings

The onion rings from Sonic Drive-In should come with a warning label. If you're not prepared for what's to come, you're not going to be a happy camper. While a great onion ring is pleasantly sweet, savory, and salty at the same time, Sonic's onion rings are strangely and annoyingly sweet. If you didn't get a warning, it might take you a handful of rings before you figure out what's going on. Eventually, you will realize that your taste buds are picking up a hint of vanilla.

What's up with these onion rings? It turns out that Sonic supposedly adds vanilla ice cream to the batter. In theory, that sounds like it could be a yummy addition. In reality, it just doesn't work that well. After a while, the vanilla flavor starts to overwhelm everything else you hold dear about onion rings, and it's all you will be able to taste.

If you want vanilla ice cream from Sonic, there are plenty of options on their ice cream menu that will fit the bill. Tragically, if you want onion rings that actually taste like onion rings, you're completely out of luck.

14. Long John Silver's onion rings

On one hand, it's commendable that Long John Silver's has onion rings on their menu at all. A seafood fast food restaurant isn't exactly where you'd expect to be able to order a basket of onion rings. On the other hand, the unavoidable truth of the matter is that they just aren't that good.

While sometimes your order of onion rings at Long John Silver's might be decent, it's usually quite the disappointment. The issue is actually the opposite of what derailed Burger King's version. Instead of not having real onions in their rings, Long John Silver's onion rings have too much onion and not enough batter. Bare spots are everywhere you look on these rings — and that's simply not acceptable.

These onion rings once went viral when one of Long John Silver's meals was found to be the worst restaurant meal of them all due to being spectacularly unhealthy. For the record, an order of their onion rings has 19.5 grams of trans fat, which is a lot.

13. Arctic Circle's onion rings

Arctic Circle is a fast food chain with locations in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada. They are similar to Dairy Queen in that they are primarily known for their sweet treats. However, their main menu consists of food choices such as burgers, chicken, fish, salads, and, yes, onion rings.

Sadly, Arctic Circle's onion rings just aren't that good. When you first lay eyes on them, you will have hope. Unfortunately, when you pick up one of the rings and discover just how limp and feckless they are, you'll understand you made a mistake ordering them. Simply put, the onion rings at Arctic Circle are way too soggy to be enjoyable.

To make matters worse, Arctic Circle doesn't have any good dipping sauces. Their best sauce is the Original Fry Sauce that they claim to have invented more than six decades ago. This sauce, which tastes like it's mostly a combination of mayonnaise and ketchup with a bit of vinegar added to the mix, is okay-ish, but it doesn't help improve Arctic Circle's onion rings at all.

12. A&W's onion rings

The onion rings at A&W are well below average when you compare them to other fast food offerings — even though they deserve credit for popularizing them by adding onion rings to their menu way back in the 1960s. Compared to other fast food onion rings available today, A&W's don't have much flavor at all and are weirdly dry. If juiciness is one of your favorite attributes of onion rings, you'll despise what A&W peddles. If you order this side, you better come equipped with a large drink in order to help you wash it all down.

Thankfully, the news isn't all bad at A&W. Unlike Arctic Circle, A&W actually has a really good dipping sauce for their onion rings. It's called Spicy Papa Dipping Sauce, and you may have tried it on their Spicy Papa Burger. Considering how dry and how flavorless their onion rings are, the spiciness you get from this sauce is a godsend. If you love spicy food, A&W's Spicy Papa Digging Sauce combined with their onion rings is something that might draw you back again and again.

11. White Castle's onion rings

Ordering onion rings at White Castle is a surprisingly dangerous idea. First of all, you need to make sure what you order is made out of onions and not chickens. White Castle has Chicken Rings, and they are even more disgusting than they sound. Seriously, never purposefully order these rings made out of poultry. It's an important enough issue that you should have the White Castle worker read back your order before you pay.

Secondly, White Castle also has something called Onion Chips. You don't want these things either. While they aren't as bad as the Chicken Rings, the Onion Chips are just lazy, unimaginative, and unappetizing. They somehow manage to be closer to a French fry than a true onion ring.

If you do manage to get White Castle's onion rings, the ultimate reward is a resounding meh. Their rings aren't terrible, and they're a step up from any of the onion rings discussed thus far on this list. However, are they really worth the danger of ending up with Chicken Rings or Onion Chips? Not really.

10. Fatburger's onion rings

Ordering onion rings at Fatburger is also risky — but for totally different reasons. The issue at Fatburger is consistency. Sometimes you get really good rings that are the perfect crispness and quite flavorful. At their best, Fatburger's onion rings probably deserve to be in the top five of this ranking.

But, more often than not, you will get onion rings from this fast food joint that are a long way away from being their best. Fatburger's onion rings are sometimes way too oily while simultaneously not being thoroughly cooked. The result is a greasy mess that isn't worth the trouble. Even if you force yourself to swallow all the rings, there's a good chance that your clothing will be stained with oil.

Fatburger claims that their onion rings are scratch-made, which might be part of the issue. While much of the competition has it down to a science, whether or not your Fatburger onion rings will be good might come down to the talent of the cook. If you feel lucky, go ahead and order their rings. Otherwise, go with something safer.

9. Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers' onion rings

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers has locations in more than 30 states. Along with steakburgers and frozen custard, Freddy's also has a number of interesting sides including cheese curds, chili cheese fries, and chili. They also have onion rings that are notably plump.

While being extra thick is sometimes good news when it comes to onion rings, it's actually part of the reason why Freddy's rings aren't higher in this ranking. Rather than being pliable and a joy to eat, their onion rings are so plump that they are a chore to chew. While the flavor is above average, the jaw workout you receive while you're eating these things is definitely suboptimal. If you order these onion rings, you will be tempted to remove the coating and eat it by itself while leaving the thick onion behind.

When it's time to pick your side item at Freddy's, go with one of the fries options or the cheese curds. The chili is also a good choice.

8. Carl's Jr.'s onion rings

The onion rings at Carl's Jr. actually taste pretty good. These bad boys are safely above average when it comes to flavor. Each bite is juicy, and the texture of everything is just right. The only issue with the onion rings at Carl's Jr.'s onion rings is the fact that they produce a lot of crumbs. If you are eating and driving, it's best to wait until you're back at a table. Otherwise, you'll be wearing an outfit full of crumbs by the time you step out of your vehicle.

The good news is there's a solution that negates the crummy issue with their onion rings. Instead of ordering their rings as a side, order a Western Bacon Cheeseburger. This must-try burger comes with a patty that is 100 percent beef, gooey American cheese, two bacon strips, a tasty barbecue sauce, a sesame seed bun, and multiple onion rings. With the onion rings inside of the burger, you don't have to worry about the crumbs and can simply enjoy their flavor. Problem solved!

7. Steak 'n Shake's onion rings

At Steak 'n Shake, you can order a medium or large basket of onion rings or get them as the side for your steakburger. A large order of onion rings here is actually big enough to be a standalone meal, which may be a tempting proposition for onion ring connoisseurs. Those connoisseurs will be happy to learn that Steak 'n Shake's rings are above average. They are comparable to what you get at Carl's Jr. but without the worrying about crumbs — and with even more of a satisfying crunch.

Should you order the rings at Steak 'n Shake? Generally speaking, you shouldn't. The reason for that is their fries are simply better. At Steak 'n Shake, they have Seasoned Fries, Thin 'n Crispy Fries, Cheese Fries, Chili Cheese Fries, and Bacon Cheese Fries. All of their fries are outstanding. Unless you really, really adore onion rings, pick one of their variety of fries instead.

6. The Habit Burger Grill's onion rings

If you make a habit out of eating the onion rings at The Habit Burger Grill, you won't be disappointed. Their rings are consistently really good. They put a lot of spices in the batter, and the result is an onion ring with so much flavor that you really don't even need to use a sauce. If you do opt for a sauce, The Habit Burger Grill has a really good fry sauce that gets rave reviews.

If you're torn about whether to go with the French fries or the onion rings, all you need to do is order the Half & Half at The Habit Burger Grill. The result will be a basket that is half full of fries and half full of onion rings. It's the perfect compromise. Then again, the Half & Half doesn't help if one of their other sides catches your eye. The Habit Burger Grill has outstanding sweet potato fries and tempura green beans, which could deepen your conundrum. That said, if you like onion rings, you won't be disappointed with what they offer — so just go with their rings when in doubt.

5. Jack in the Box's onion rings

Aesthetically, the onion rings at Jack in the Box are a bit of a letdown. When you first see them, you may be turned off by how disheveled they look and the fact that they don't have a uniform shape. Some will be small, some will be huge, and some will have fallen apart and can no longer technically be classified as rings.

But after you bite into Jack in the Box's onion rings, you will again learn the lesson that you should never judge a book by its cover. While they're certainly not beautiful, your taste buds will discover that they are very tasty. Add in the fact that these onion rings are relatively cheap (you can usually get them for around two bucks), and the logical part of your brain may fall in love.

If the thought of Western-style tacos tickles your fancy, it's easy to do at Jack in the Box. Simply get Jack's iconic two tacos with an order of onion rings and a container barbecue sauce. Then, stuff the tacos with onion rings and slather on the barbecue sauce. Voila, Western-style tacos that will fill you up on the cheap.

4. BurgerFi's onion rings

A lot of fast food onion rings look like they are related and could have been born in the same factory. At BurgerFi, that's not the case at all. These things are unlike any onion rings you have ever seen before. While they aren't overly thick, the rings are extra wide. While the altered appearance doesn't make a huge difference taste-wise, the texture is excellent. BurgerFi's onion rings, which are double-battered and cut by hand, are crunchy to the core and are easy to coat with dipping sauces. The only slight disappointment is that these wide rings take up so much space that you just don't get many of them with your order.

Even though BurgerFi has been around for less than a decade, they've quickly forced everyone to take note due to their focus on serving all-natural and high-quality food. You won't find any mass-produced items of iffy origins at this fast food place — and their unique onion rings are another example of that.

3. Dairy Queen's onion rings

A general rule of thumb when you're at Dairy Queen is to stick to their desserts. They have a plethora of great Blizzard flavors and other sweet goodies like the Chocolate Dipped Cone and the Buster Bar. If you stray from their dessert menu, you could find yourself with a gross burger or a nasty chili cheese dog. However, one exception to this rule is Dairy Queen's onion rings. Even though these rings aren't a dessert, they're worth every penny you pay for them — and more.

The best part about the onion rings from Dairy Queen is that they're served piping hot. For that reason, make an effort to eat them right away because they aren't nearly as good when they cool off. If you eat these onion rings when they're hot, the juices will erupt in your mouth as the crispy texture tantalizes your senses. Did you get them from a drive-thru window? If home is far away, pull over in the parking lot to ensure that you eat these onion rings while they're still fantastic.

2. Whataburger's onion rings

Most of the time, greasy onion rings are frowned upon and viewed negatively. However, at Whataburger, that greasiness is just part of the charm of their onion rings. Whataburger's onion rings are super crispy, super flavorful, super greasy, and super scrumptious. You'll be tempted to go back for seconds and thirds after you're done with your first box of rings.

Like those you'd find at Jack in the Box, the onion rings at Whataburger don't always look pretty. But when it comes to how they taste, you will never be anything less than overjoyed. Even if you let them cool all the way off, they are still immensely packed with flavor.

To make things even better, Whataburger's legendary ketchup is the best dipping sauce on the planet for onion rings. If you've never tried their ketchup, just know that it's so good that it's sold in stores. Dip your onion rings in this ketchup, and you'll be in onion ring heaven.

1. Culver's onion rings

When it comes to the onion rings at Culver's, everything about these rings is perfect. First of all, they look drop-dead gorgeous. These majestic beings are always a deep golden brown, always thick, and never falling apart. Secondly, when these onion rings reach your mouth, you'll experience their perfectly crunchy texture, the perfectly seasoned coating, and an accompanying onion-powered flavor that is so good that you'll immediately reach for your next ring. The onions they use are naturally sweet, and once that sweetness combines with the added salt, the combination is breathtaking. You don't have to sacrifice substance or style when you order your onion rings from Culver's.

Culver's sells around ten million orders of onion rings per year. Try these things once, and you will completely understand why they're so popular. There's simply nowhere else in the fast food world you should go when you need the best onion rings around.