There’s no shortage of Panera Bread enthusiasts who can’t resist the irresistible crunch and zesty flavor of their famed frizzled onions.
These tiny, crispy delicacies are not just mere toppings on their sandwiches and salads, but they are indeed a flavor bomb that leaves your taste buds craving for more.
But what creates this addictive taste? And is there a way to replicate this delight in your kitchen?
In this article, we’ll uncover all there is to know about frizzled onions at Panera Bread and even walk you through how to make yours at home.
What Is The Frizzled Onion At Panera Bread?
The frizzled onion at Panera Bread may seem like somewhat of a mystery to the average sandwich enthusiast.
These crispy garnishments are more than just an exciting name thrown around in their BBQ chicken flatbread or steak and blue cheese salad – they’re a fundamental flavor profile that enhances the dish.
So, what exactly are they?
Frizzled onions are essentially thinly sliced onions, lightly coated in cornstarch and a tad of cayenne pepper for that subtle hint of spice, then either pan-fried or deep-fried to perfection, achieving their signature golden crispness.
This method is what gives these delicious tidbits their unique zing, setting them apart from your run-of-the-mill onion slices.
Panera Bread uses these crunchy onions not just as mere fill-ins but as an integral part of the flavor party happening in each bite.
Each strip adds texture contrast and a slight sweet-caramelized taste that complements both the hearty meatiness of sandwiches like the BBQ chicken flatbread and the robust flavors present in dishes like the steak and blue cheese salad.
Why Is It Called Frizzled Onions?
Many would be surprised that the term “frizzled” doesn’t refer to some fancy culinary technique, but derives from a humble Middle English word, “frisel”, which quite aptly translates to “to curl or crisp”.
And indeed, that perfectly describes the frayed edges and crunchy texture of frizzled onions.
The ubiquity of frizzled onions is not limited to any culture or cuisine.
In fact, they have been leaving their delicious crispy mark for centuries across various dishes around the globe.
Taking a gastronomical trip to the Middle East, one would find these golden gems sitting atop mujaddara, a comforting lentil and rice dish.
Heading over to India, you’ll see fried onions featuring as an essential ingredient in the aromatic and spicy biryani.
In the chilly reaches of Scandinavian countries, hot dogs or tunnbrödsrulle (a hearty wrap filled with mashed potatoes and sausages) are invariably adorned with crunchy frizzled onions for an extra kick of flavor.
However, in the United States, one can’t miss out on mentioning green bean casserole when discussing frizzled onions.
Conceived in 1955 by Dorcas Reilly at Campbell’s Test Kitchen, this classic American comfort food has made canned french-fried onions (read: frizzled onions) a household name ever since.
The recipe slyly combines canned cream of mushroom soup with green beans and these canned crispy treats as main ingredients.
Layered and baked till bubbly perfection before being garnished generously with more frizzled onions – this iconic dish exemplifies how this unassuming ingredient could truly transform a recipe.
How To Make Frizzled Onions At Home
Frizzled onions are simply thinly sliced onions that have been fried until they’re crispy and golden brown.
They can be made from a variety of onions such as yellow, white, or red.
To customize them further, you may season them with salt, pepper or other spices according to your preference.
All you need for this culinary endeavor is a sharp knife to slice the onion thinly, a skillet or deep-fryer for the cooking process and some oil.
A handful of paper towels will also come in handy to drain any excess oil after frying.
Alternatively, if you’re more health conscious or looking to cut down on your oil intake, an air-fryer or an oven can be utilized instead.
Here’s how you can make frizzled onions at home:
- 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
- Vegetable oil (of choice) for frying
- Salt to taste
Start by heating your oil over medium heat in your preferred cooking vessel.
Introduce a slice of onion; it should sizzle upon contact – if not, the oil isn’t heated adequately.
Once the temperature is right, add all the onions and stir occasionally until they reach a delectable golden brown hue.
Next comes the draining process: remove your fried slices from their oily bath and set them on paper towels to soak up excess grease.
Season these crispy bits with salt right after so the seasoning sticks better due to residual heat.
Allow your frizzled onions time to cool afterwards; this helps them crisp up even more.
Now they’re ready for you to enjoy as a delicious garnish on salads, casseroles, burgers…well pretty much anything!
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Frizzled Onions
Well, let’s start here.
Despite being fried, these crispy toppings aren’t as sinful as you might think.
Frizzled onions are largely low-calorie, with the majority of their caloric content attributed to the oil in which they’re fried. Typically, a serving may clock in at less than 15 calories. This makes it a treat you can enjoy without much guilt.
Vitamin-wise, frizzled onions sit high on the list due to their Vitamin C content – surpassing 5% of your recommended daily value.
However, their overall nutrient profile is considerably sparse – barely contributing to your dietary requirements.
So, if you’ve been wondering whether frizzled onions add significant nutritional value to your meals – well, they really don’t.
These tiny onion strips are essentially garnishes that enhance flavor and texture rather than provide health benefits.
How To Eat Frizzled Onions
Frizzled Onions As A Snack or Paired With Sauces
With their special taste, frizzled onions are perfect alone as a crunchy snack. However, they also pair incredibly well with a variety of dipping sauces to add an extra kick. They’re the ideal zesty nibble for social gatherings, parties or simply a movie night at home.
Burgers are one thing, but burgers topped with frizzled onions? Now you’re speaking the “burgeeze” language!
Their unique texture adds an exciting contrast to the soft bun and juicy patty – transforming an ordinary burger into an extraordinary bite.
Casserole and Salad Companions
Frizzled onions have been long-standing beautifiers for both casseroles and salads. Sprinkle them on top for a gourmet twist and watch how they elevate these dishes from good to great!
Your Soups’ Secret Ingredient
Whether it’s a hearty pear soup or curried butternut squash soup, frizzled onions add an unexpected crunch making soups more exciting. Each spoonful is made more robust adding this special component.
The Perfect Pasta and Rice Accomplice
As odd as it may seem initially, topping your favorite pasta or rice dish with frizzled onions can catapult your meal to new culinary heights. These tiny crispies offer the ideal contrast against smooth noodles or fluffy grains.
Can You Make Frizzled Onions In Advance?
Yes you can.
Follow your usual frizzled onion routine and once they’ve reached that irresistible golden-brown hue, let them cool completely before storing them away.
Once cooled, place your crispy onions in a container with an airtight seal. Ensure they’re fully covered and then store at room temperature.
But here’s where the real question comes in: how long can those frizzled onions keep their crave-worthy crunch?
Well, no more than 4 days!
So, when preparing your onions ahead of time, be sure to plan accordingly.
How To Store Frizzled Onions
As mentioned above, frizzled onions are best stored in an airtight container.
It might sound counterintuitive, but your kitchen countertop or pantry is actually an ideal location for this storage, and you can leave them there for up to a week.
The humidity in refrigerators can often lead to sogginess and loss of the desired crispiness.
Want those tantalizing frizzled onions to last even longer?
Your freezer is your knight in shining armor here.
Consider packing them up and popping them into the freezer where they can stay fresh for up to six months!