Review: Steakhouse Onion Rings from Arby’s

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Do you ever get sick of the usual french fries on the side? Hard as it is for me to resist starch and salt in fried form, I’ve come to find a number of fast food fries to be only average. Arby’s is one of those places. While I absolutely love the seasoning blend used on their signature Curly Fries, the ones I order are almost always limp, displaying a complete lack of fluffy interior goodness and all too often coming swimming in a pool of excess oil. Given how much I usually eat at Arby’s I thought I’d forgo the fries on a recent combo meal purchase, and upgrade to the venerable cousin of the fried spud: the onion ring. Arby’s Steakhouse Onion Rings are described as follows:

These go great with life. Battered and fried to golden perfection, Arby’s® Steakhouse Onion Rings are what onion rings are supposed to taste like.

Unlike some of our readers, I’ve never been a huge onion ring guy. The best I’ve ever had are almost always panko breaded and find their way onto the small plate menus of gastropubs and served with some kind of exotic aioli. Actually, to the best of my knowledge, I’d never actually had a fast food onion ring before trying Arby’s.

The onion rings come in one size (priced at $1.99) and pack a wallop at 460 calories and 24 grams of fat. Given that my order came with four rings, that works out to a cool 115 calories per onion ring — not exactly the kind of food you want to base a New Year’s Resolution around.

The breading is definitely crispy, with patches of browned edges that have a somewhat deeper flavor. There’s a distinct flavor of cornmeal and onion powder on those toasted edges, but not much else. I don’t eat at steakhouses that often (actually, ever) but I fail to see how the rings represent the flavors of a steakhouse. I’m not completely turned off by the salty and garlic-heavy exterior, but that’s thanks more to the army of sauces Arby’s wields than anything else.

The biggest problem with the rings is inconsistency. One of my rings was absolutely beyond repair — with all moisture having been sucked out of the onion, it was hollow on the interior, seemingly only a husk of crunchy breading. The others were OK texture wise, but the interior of the ring remained slimy and flavorless, with none of the onion’s natural sweetness coming through. In many ways the interior of these rings reminded me of a mellow flavor of an onion when microwaved.

I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to a crunchy craving, these hit the spot more than Curly Fries. But given the nutrition, price, and lack of appeal in terms of flavor, I really can’t get behind them. Oh well. I guess there’s always Mozzarella Sticks to try, right?
Sodium: 1400 mg

Pros: Change-of-pace side. Breading is both crispy and crunchy. Plenty of sauce options.

Cons: Terribly inconsistent with interior texture. Only four to an order. Calorie-bomb. Doesn't taste like anything in a "steakhouse." More expensive than fries. Fatburger does it better.

Taste: 5.00/10
Value: 4.50/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.50/10
Price: $1.99

Overall GrubGrade: 5.00 Mediocre

Nutrition Facts:
Arby's Steakhouse Onion Rings
Calories: 460
Total Fat: 24 g
Saturated Fat: 3 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 1400 mg
Total Carbs: 56 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Sugars: 6 g
Protein: 6 g

18 comments on “Review: Steakhouse Onion Rings from Arby’s

  1. simon says:

    I like em and find it hard to complain about them when the only other fast food option in my area for onion rings is burger king and those fake things don’t count

  2. Chefprotoss says:

    I wonder how they would taste on a beef n’ cheddar with horsey sauce…

  3. CulinaryZerg says:

    I love onion rings, even the BK ones at times. But the Arby ones just really put me off. The breading is way too thick and traps too much grease, even for a onion ring. The onion inside is overpowered, undercooked, and a bit stringy. Most of all, the overall flavor is extremely strange to me. Might be due to that flavoring on the breading…that’s not where the onion taste should be coming from!

    I don’t get it. It’s not that hard to make a decent onion ring.

  4. Matt says:

    These look like Red Robin’s onion rings. I’m not a fan of “huge” onion rings, and prefer a beer batter over a breading. But these still look decent. It’s hard to resist curly fries, and their potato cakes are also fantastic. Too many options, Arby’s.

  5. Marie says:

    Hardee’s actually makes a good fast food onion ring. They make each batch to order (well, that is what they said when I ask them to drop a new batch for me so they would be hot and fresh. Good flavor, fresh, and consistent texture/taste of onion in each bite.

  6. Daniel N says:

    I personally feel by far they are the best fast food onion rings available. Overall they may not be the best rings I’ve had in my life but they rank in the top 5. BTW I usually get atlest 6 rings per order.

  7. Satyr says:

    To me, the best fast-food onion rings are Sonic, hands down. With a little ketchup or siracha, they are awesome.

  8. Keith says:

    These totally belong on a sandwich and I’ll order them just for that purpose. The inconsistency is actually encouraging since, unlike BK’s reconstituted onion-like-goo in ring form, these seem to be real onion slices.

    I also prefer beer batter over the crumbly breading. Best fast food onion rings IMO are Hardee’s. We need more Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. Love here at GrubGrade.

    @Satyr: Almost anything with sriracha is awesome!

    • Marie says:

      All I have to say is Hardee’s onion rings, jumbo chili dog, and for breakfast – bacon and egg biscuit with coffee. Yum.

  9. Kayleigh says:

    The best fast food onion rings have got to be Burgerville, especially during the summer when the Walla Walla rings come out! They are sweet and salty, and you can definitely taste the onion. And while Burger King onion rings aren’t great, they are nice sometimes and I really like the zesty sauce you get with them.

    • Keith says:

      Kay, I had to google Burgerville since I’d never even heard of it. It only has 37 locations in the Pacific Northwest…. which explains why.

      The regional chain uses only local ingredients (like Tillamook cheddar), powers all of their restaurants solely on wind power, converts almost all of their fry oil to biodiesel, allows bicyclists to go through their drive-thru and offers seasonal items based on what’s fresh and in season.

      There was some debate over whether or not places like In-N-Out and Five Guys were considered “fast food” or more “fast casual.” To me, regional chains with a commitment to quality and service are always “fast casual,” even if they meet all the hall marks of fast food – it’s just not fair to lump them in with the super, gazillion-dollar corporate franchises found worldwide. The regional places will always offer something superior.

      If I ever find myself in Oregon or Washington, you can be sure I’ll be hitting up a Burgerville and sampling their Walla Walla onion rings – and maybe even some tempura-style fried aparagus, or smoked salmon salad with Oregon hazelnuts.

      • Kayleigh says:

        Keith – yah, I guess I never even thought of that since I’ve lived up here most of my life and there is seemingly a Burgerville on every corner 🙂 But you definitely have to try it if you ever get around here, the milkshakes and Pepper bacon Tillamook cheeseburger are also to die for!!

  10. SmoledMan says:

    Oh god, I could eat 4 or 5 of these in a single sitting if I didn’t care about my health.

  11. Lindsay says:

    Thanks everyone for letting me know about Hardees onion rings, I I will have to try them – I didn’t know they made them! I do love them and it’s hard to find good fast food ones. I like Burger Kings when they are cooked just a little bit longer (I don’t like the “crunchy” exterior when it’s soft) and I adore their zesty onion ring sauce. I could probably just get some containers of that and add it to burgers, fries, etc.

    Arby’s curly fries have the potential to be good. But it NEVER fails – I’ve NEVER had a good batch. Either too hard or too soft, never perfectly made. What a disappointment. They Arby’s onion rings look ok. I might give em a go (since the fries suck anyway). Arby’s beef and cheedar is so good with horsey sauce.

  12. Raiders757 says:

    I find it funny that as simple a recipe as Onion Rings are, how so few actually get them right. That aside, I’m tempted to try these, but too cheap to pay $1.99 and only get four. I also prefer a batter dredged ring over a bread crumb based version.

    Some mentioned BK’s version, but I have to question whether or not BK should even be able to call them onion rings, as there is hardly any real onion in them. Oddly I do love putting their version on my hamburgers from time to time.

    This is making me crave some rings now. I think I might fire up my smoker and make some tasty coating free smoked onion rings. They’re almost like eating candy they’re so good, and no fired ring can compare. Might as well throw a steak in the mix as well.

  13. Deanna says:

    Come on now, y’all! Arby’s = Potato Cakes! So delicious!

  14. lz says:

    One of the worst items at Arby’s. I miss their onion petals, which had a much better amount of onion inside. Sometimes there was a bonus of TWO petals of onion in one piece.