Outback Steakhouse Sold More Than 7 Million Bloomin’ Onions Last Year. Here’s Why.

Plus, how to score the best onions at your local grocery store.

<p>Allrecipes/Jiaqi Wang</p>

Allrecipes/Jiaqi Wang

Since the first Outback Steakhouse opened its doors in 1988s, the chain restaurant has been serving up its famous Bloomin’ Onion appetizer. Priced at around $10 depending on location, the battered, sliced onion is served with Outback’s signature Bloom Sauce and comes golden brown and ready for dipping. The shareable snack’s popularity has become synonymous with a visit to Outback Steakhouse, and its popularity–one out of every four appetizers ordered at the chain is a Bloomin’ Onion–is nothing to cry over.

Executive chef Jay Smith works as senior director of research and development for Bloomin’ Brands, the parent company of  Outback Steakhouse as well as chains including Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Bonefish Grill. Smith, a bit of an onion expert himself, says Outback sells more than 7.5 million Bloomin’ Onions every year.

The Power of the Onion

What makes the Bloomin’ Onion do such a booming business? Smith says it’s “no secret” among chefs and home cooks that onions pack a lot of flavor, and the Bloomin’ Onion does just that.

Onions are “one of the foundation ingredients in cooking,” he says, so it’s unsurprising that Outback uses onions iin more than half of the restaurant’s menu items, Smith says. “The most well known is the Bloomin' Onion, but other dishes [on the menu] that include onions are sauces, dressings, salads, burgers, baked potato garnishes, chili, and soups.” In short, Outback Steakhouse may know a lot about steaks, but it’s also pretty knowledgeable about onions.

In addition to “high quality ingredients” and a signature seasoning blend, Smith says when it comes to the Bloomin’ Onion, size matters. “We use super colossal onions and have a special preparation to help them really open up,” he says. “We hand-bread each one and cook it to order. Once it’s ready, we remove the core and place our signature, house-made Bloom Sauce in the center and serve it to our guests.”

Are Super Colossal Onions Really a Thing?

Turns out, “super colossal” isn’t just a way to describe a really big onion. The onion variety does exist, and is known to have a pungent flavor when raw that develops into a nutty, mild flavor with sweet undertones when cooked. Smith says Outback’s founding chef “determined that the super colossal yellow onion delivered the best flavor profile” when combined with Outback’s seasonings back when he was developing the restaurant’s menu. That, and a super colossal can deliver 200 petals to pluck, dip, and devour.

The Best Onions to Choose at the Grocery Store, According to an Onion Expert

Smith says Outback sources its onions mostly from within the U.S., from areas like the Pacific Northwest, California, and New Mexico. But what should home cooks look for at their local grocery store when purchasing onions for their own recipes? When in doubt, Smith says stick to a yellow onion.

“The yellow onion is the most versatile and works for most purposes,” says Smith. “They are sweeter than most and are great for soups and sauces.”

White onions, he says, “are typically a little more pungent and are best used in raw applications.” Red onions are “milder in flavor and work well in salads because of the flavor and color.” Finally, green onions, also mild in flavor, “make a great garnish for baked potatoes, soups, and chili.”

No matter the color, Smith says to look for an onion at your grocery store that’s “firm and heavy for its size without any bruising or soft spots.”

More Onions Coming to Outback

In addition to the Bloomin’ Onion and a tasty French onion soup, Outback has a few seasonal additions to its menu that are seriously onion-forward: the Bloomin’ French Onion Sirloin and the Bone-In Ribeye with Bourbon Onion.

“The first dish is a center-cut sirloin topped with provolone cheese and Bloomin’ Onion petals and served with a side of our French onion soup to pour on your steak or dip your steak into,” says Smith, “which adds more savoriness to the experience … and is a great way to experience familiar menu items in a new way.”

The ribeye, he says, is topped with an onion caramelized with bourbon and roasted garlic. “And,” he adds, “bacon butter.”

If bacon butter and Bloomin’ Onion-topped steak aren’t something you prefer to get minced up in, Smith says Outback’s standard onion-centric dishes are always a good option. “Onions have a natural flavor that compliments so many of our menu items,” he says, “and our bold seasonings accentuate those flavors to create an eating experience you can only find at Outback Steakhouse.” And that’s pretty colossal. 

<p>Dotdash Meredith Food Studios</p>

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Get the Recipe: Air Fryer Blooming Onion

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