Cuisine Fiend

crispy tobacco onions

Fri, 12 September, 2014


Crispy fried tobacco onions with spicy seasoning are one of those snacks there's never enough of. Onions deep fried in crunchy coating, served as a snack or a topping, they re-define the word 'moreish'.

Crispy tobacco onions

The story behind crispy tobacco onions:

I live with a man who used to hate onions. He hated them so much that for a time I was banned from eating them myself, lest my breath should smell of the hateful stuff. It is now maintained that the anecdote is a complete fabrication and myth, nevertheless – he was a veritable onion hater.

And he likes the crispy tobacco ones.

How good must they be then?

Damn tasty and moreish – that’s how.

The story continues:

I first had them a few weeks ago in a lovely restaurant in New Forest, and they came with a hearty recommendation from the lovely waiter who served us: 'they are our signature side dish'.

I was a little suspicious first. Why on earth are they called 'tobacco' onions? Do they actually soak baccy leaves and then chuck in onions for flavour? Or do they simply smoke lots of fags in the kitchen while frying onions?*

They had me at first bite.

There weren’t too many bites to follow because the Former Onion Hater took care of most of the bowl.

Crispy onions

I made it!

I followed up with research as I do and here’s my recipe. It does involve a little bit of fuss because of deep frying, but SO WORTH IT.

A tip here: if, like me, you don't own a deep fat fryer, appoint an oldish pan with a lid to be your designated deep fryer. I actually keep the oil in that pan and put it away with the oil into the cupboard, when completely cold obviously.


The recipe is a compilation of several, the method as in Paul Rankin’s and spices added at my fancy. The crispy tobacco onions go best with steak, chops or burgers – but you might just polish them on their own given a chance.

*boringly, none of those proved to be true. They are called ‘tobacco’ due to their colour and curly appearance similar to dried tobacco leaves.

crispy tobacco onions

Servings: 2-4Time: 20 minutes


  • an onion (or two, or four), halved and sliced very thinly
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (optional)
  • 100g (1 cup) plain flour
  • groundnut or sunflower oil for deep frying
  • Feel free to experiment with spices. If you like more kick, add some chilli powder.


1. Put the sliced onions into a bowl and sprinkle with salt, separating into feathers. Leave for a few minutes so that they soften.

2. In another bowl mix flour with the spices.

3. Heat the oil to 200C in a deep fat fryer or a pan large enough to contain your amount of onions.

Cooking tobacco onions

4. Toss the onions in the flour mix so that they are all well coated.

5. When the oil is hot enough, fry them until dark brown and really crisp – you might have to do it in batches.

6. Drain on paper towels, serve and watch them disappear…

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Your comments

I always add some sugar to the flour and shake in plastic bag, leave 30 mins before cooking.
5 months ago
I find it easier to put all ingredients and onions into a plastic bag and give a good shake about half an hour before frying.
5 months ago

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