Cuisine Fiend

crispy tobacco onions


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.
I first had them a few weeks ago in a lovely restaurant in New Forest, coming with a hearty recommendation. A little suspicious first (tobacco? do they actually soak baccy leaves and then chuck in onions for flavour? or do they 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.

I followed up with research as I do and here’s my recipe – a little bit of fuss cause of deep frying, but SO WORTH IT. The recipe is a compilation of several, method as in Paul Rankin’s and spices added at my fancy. They go best with steak (have a look at this recipe), chops and 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


  • an onion (or two, or four), halved and sliced very thinly
  • cayenne pepper
  • sweet paprika
  • garlic granules
  • Old Bay Seasoning – optional. I had some, realised it’s the same colour as the other spices so threw it in
  • plain flour
  • groundnut or sunflower oil for deep frying
Feel free to experiment with spices. If you like more kick, add some chilli powder. There should be enough of it altogether to colour the coated onions, at least 1-2 tsp of each.

Crispy onions


Put the sliced onions into a bowl and sprinkle with salt, separating into feathers. Leave for a few minutes so that they soften. In another bowl mix flour with the spices. Heat the oil to 200C in a deep fat fryer or a pan large enough to contain your amount of onions. Cooking tobacco onions

Toss the onions in the flour mix so that they are all well coated. When the oil is hot enough, fry them until dark brown and really crisp – you might have to do it in batches.

Drain on paper towels, serve and watch them disappear…

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