Fast-food critics widely praise Burger King for having some of the best-fried onion rings in the industry.
They’re known for their rich onion flavor, crispy texture, and perfectly-fried crunchiness that simply can’t be beaten. While onion rings can be vegan, more often than not, they’re not so vegan-friendly.
So, are Burger King onion rings vegan?
Unfortunately for my onion lovers, Burger King’s onion rings are NOT vegan. The main reason they’re not vegan is that they contain whey powder.
Whey is a dairy product that’s obtained by isolating whey protein from raw milk. Since vegans don’t consume milk, this makes the onion rings non-vegan.
Aside from the fact that Burger King onion rings aren’t vegan, they are also very bad for you.
What should be a relatively simple food contains over twenty ingredients! Most of these are non-natural starches, sugars, and chemicals that you’d never consume if you actually knew what they were.
Then again, we’re talking about fast food, which is almost never healthy.
Below, I’ll answer some of the most common vegan-related questions about onion rings and give you a full explanation as to why they aren’t vegan by showing you all of the ingredients. Trust me, after you read through the list, you’ll regret that you ever tried them!
Do Burger King Onion Rings Have Dairy?
If you look at many traditional homemade onion ring recipes, you’ll notice that many of them contain some type of dairy. Cream and buttermilk are often used to batter the raw onions in before they’re fried.
As you might expect, Burger King onion rings DO contain dairy. All of the fast-food chain’s onion rings are coated with a batter that includes whey powder, which is a milk-derived protein.
That being said, onion rings don’t have to be made with dairy. It’s just how it’s traditionally done. There are lots of great homemade vegan onion ring recipes that I’ve come across. Here’s one that I recently tried:
What Fast Food Onion Rings Are Vegan?
Unfortunately, almost all fast-food onion rings contain some type of dairy, egg derivative, or refined white sugar (which isn’t vegan either).
However, the one fast-food restaurant chain that does offer vegan onion rings is Sonic. Although sonic onion rings used to contain dairy and egg, they recently changed their recipe to improve the shelf life of their onion rings.
As you can imagine, onion rings made with dairy and eggs have a far more limited shelf life than onion rings that contain more artificial lab-created substitutes. It doesn’t necessarily make them healthier, but it does make them more vegan-friendly!
Is There Egg In Burger King Onion Rings? A Look At The Ingredients?
As I’ve explained, Burger King’s onion rings are far from vegan, as they contain milk derivatives. They’re also not very healthy, as you’re about to see.
However, Burger King onion rings do not contain any eggs, whatsoever.
This is a good question, though, as many homemade or restaurant-style onion rings are known for using eggs in their batter. It’s also something you should inquire of any restaurant you’re buying real onion rings from!
As you can see, that’s a huge list of ingredients.
Traditional onion ring recipes typically consist of a few simple ingredients, such as:
- Corn starch
- Eggs or Dairy
Burger King has taken things to a whole new level and has added a literal ton of ingredients to simple food. Presumably, these additives make the food taste better. It sure isn’t healthy for you, though.
Below, I’ll give you a bit of information on each ingredient so you can see why these aren’t so vegan-friendly or healthy for you!
1) Bleached Wheat Flour & Water
Bleached wheat flour and water serve as the main base for the onion batter dough. Water is, of course, vegan. Flour is also vegan, as it’s simply dried, ground wheat (a natural grass).
That being said, bleached wheat flour is nowhere near as healthy as unbleached wheat flour. It’s highly processed and has had all of its natural coloring removed. This process also removes many of the nutritional benefits of unprocessed wheat flour.
2) Dehydrated Onion
Unlike most other fast-food chains, Burger King doesn’t coat onion rings in batter and fry them. Instead, they create a paste that’s full of diced dehydrated onions. This is what gives them such a consistent texture and consistency!
The dehydrated onion used in Burger King’s onion rings is about the only natural ingredient you’ll find, though.
3) Corn Starch
Corn starch is similar to corn flour but is far more processed. It’s the raw starch/carbohydrate that’s extracted from corn kernels, making it plant-based (if unhealthy).
It’s often added to fried foods, as it creates a crispier, more crunchy texture.
4) Yellow Corn Flour
Yellow corn flour is the reason why Burger King’s onion rings have such a perfectly brown, crispy appearance. When fried, cornflour gives whatever food it’s blended with a deep yellow shade that mimics the appearance of real onions.
Burger King’s fried onion rings also include refined white sugar, which isn’t vegan. Although raw cane sugar all starts off as vegan, white sugar goes through an additional refining process that uses animal bone char to remove the color and syrup surrounding the sugar crystals.
This, unfortunately, is the reason why many vegans are boycotting white sugar.
6) Gelatinized Wheat Starch & Corn Starch
At first glance, you might think that gelatinized wheat starch contains gelatin.
Thankfully, this isn’t true. This additive is created by boiling wheat starch in water, until the starch molecules burst, releasing a type of natural plant-based gelatin. This additive is often used alongside corn starch as an emulsifier and binding agent.
7) Salt & Seasonings
Burger King uses a blend of salt and several seasonings to give their onion rings the signature flavor that makes them oh-so-delicious.
Aside from iodized salt, Burger King seasons their onion ring batter with onion and garlic powder, natural flavors, spices, and a mysterious “grill flavor” that’s supposed to make them taste less fried and more grilled.
8) Guar Gum
Guar gum is a natural emulsifier that’s extracted from guar trees. This acts as a binding agent in the batter, holding the ingredients together and making for a more consistent product. It’s healthy and plant-based and is often found in vegan foods as well.
9) Vegetable Oils
Burger King uses so many different vegetable oils to fry their onion rings that it simply doesn’t make sense. The ingredients list includes the following oils:
- Sunflower oil
- Palm oil
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
Sunflower, canola, and soybean oil are all vegan-friendly oils. However, palm oil is generally considered non-vegan by most people.
This is because the palm oil industry is incredibly destructive to our planet’s rainforests and ecosystems. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why orangutans are going extinct.
10) Methylcellulose & Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose
Both of these mouthful compounds are forms of cellulose, which is a natural plant-derived fiber. These ingredients are often added to batters and fried food, as they act like thickening agents. They make for a thicker, richer, more consistent batter.
They’re generally considered safe for human consumption by the FDA.
Personally, though, I don’t like the idea of putting chemically-sounding additives like that in my body.
11) Wheat Gluten
Wheat gluten is a type of protein that’s found in wheat. This is 100% vegan and is actually used to make one of my favorite vegan proteins – seitan (which is pure wheat gluten). This protein is added to create a thicker paste that binds itself together without any issues.
12) Sodium Tripolyphosphate
This chemical is a form of salt that’s often used as a preservative in foods. It’s a very strong preservative that’s often used in canned food and dog food. While it’s vegan, it’s certainly not something that I want to eat on a regular basis.
Whey is one of the main non-vegan ingredients in Burger King’s onion rings. This is because whey is a direct derivative of milk. It’s a by-product of the cheese-making process and is extracted when the moisture is removed from milk.
Dextrose is a simple starchy sugar that’s extracted from corn or potatoes. It’s often added to fried food as it helps them take on an ultra-crispy fried texture. It’s plant-based but isn’t healthy in the least bit.
15) Leavening Agents
Leavening agents like baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) are added to the onion ring batter to keep it firm and crispy. This also prevents all of the wheat dough from rising and becoming too soft.
16) Yeast Extract & Dried Yeast
Yeast extract is somewhat similar to the nutritional yeast that vegans love to season their food with. This additive is added as a savory seasoning and is known for providing a savory, umami flavor.
Sorbitol is a pure sugar alcohol. This is added to give the onion rings a slightly sweet aroma and flavor that pairs with the white sugar. Sorbitol is vegan and is generally considered a plant-based sweetener.
18) Calcium Chloride
Calcium chloride is a form of calcium that’s actually somewhat healthy to consume! It’s a natural mineral and doesn’t come from animals, so no worries here.
The Verdict – Are Burger King Onion Rings Vegan-Friendly?
Burger King onion rings are NOT vegan-friendly, as they contain whey, white sugar, and palm oil, all of which are non-vegan food additives. After learning how many additives are in Burger King’s onion rings, I wouldn’t care if it was vegan! I still wouldn’t eat them.
That being said, both Burger King and Chick-Fil-A’s French fries are vegan. Keep on reading to see why I love Chick-Fil-A fries so much!