What is blooming onion sauce made of?

Blooming onions are a popular appetizer found at many restaurants, especially steak houses and pubs. They consist of a large onion that is cut to open into petals resembling a flower, which is then battered and fried. The onion petals are served with a creamy, tangy dipping sauce that perfectly complements the crispy, fried onion. But what exactly is in this addictive blooming onion sauce? Here’s a breakdown of the main ingredients that go into making this restaurant favorite.


Mayonnaise is the base of most blooming onion dipping sauces. Standard mayonnaise contains eggs, oil, vinegar, and lemon juice to create a thick, creamy emulsion. The mayo provides a rich, fatty base with tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with the sweet, crispy onion petals. Many restaurant recipes call for regular mayonnaise or a mixture of mayo and other ingredients to achieve the ideal thick, creamy texture.

Sour Cream

Sour cream is another common ingredient used to make blooming onion sauce. The tangy dairy product adds moistness and a pleasant tart flavor. Sour cream contains less oil than mayonnaise, so it lightens up the dip while providing a similar creamy richness. Some recipes combine equal parts mayonnaise and sour cream for a sauce that achieves the best of both ingredients. The sour cream helps cut through the heaviness of deep fried onion for a more refreshing dip.


Buttermilk is sometimes used in blooming onion sauce as well. This thick, tangy dairy product contributes even more tart flavor while thinning out the texture slightly. Buttermilk contains lactic acid that gives it a signature sour taste. When combined with mayonnaise or sour cream and other seasonings, buttermilk makes a zesty, creamy blooming onion dipping sauce. The buttermilk flavor comes through and brightens up the fried onion without overpowering it.

Dairy Products

In addition to mayonnaise, sour cream and buttermilk, some blooming onion sauce recipes also incorporate other dairy products. Milk, half and half, yogurt, and cream cheese are options for adding extra creaminess. The milk and cream help achieve an ultra-smooth dipping sauce. Yogurt and cream cheese contribute tang and body. These dairy products blend with the mayonnaise for an extra rich, indulgent sauce with moist, creamy texture.

Onion Powder

Onion powder is a key seasoning used to flavor blooming onion dipping sauce. Onion powder made from dehydrated, ground onions provides concentrated onion taste without overpowering onion pieces. It mixes into the sauce seamlessly while accentuating the natural sweet onion flavor. Just a dash of onion powder complements the fried onion petals for a perfect match made in heaven. Other popular dried herbs like garlic powder, oregano, dill, and parsley are also common seasonings.

Worcestershire Sauce

Many blooming onion dip recipes call for a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. The complex, umami-rich condiment packs a flavor punch. Worcestershire contains vinegar, molasses, tamarind and spices like garlic, onion, and cloves. It adds deep, savory flavor to balance the creamy dairy and sweet onion. Just a bit of Worcestershire sauce elevates the overall taste of the dip without altering the texture. The fermented sauce gives it a unique tanginess that enhances all the other ingredients.

Hot Sauce

For a spicy kick, hot sauces like Tabasco, Frank’s RedHot or Sriracha are often incorporated into blooming onion sauce. They inject some heat and vinegar tartness to cut through the rich dip. The spicy pepper flavor pairs wonderfully with the crispy onion petals. Hot sauce also helps thin and smooth out the texture. Restaurants may offer mild and spicy versions of their blooming onion sauce to suit different preferences. The hot sauce can be adjusted to make it as mild or as spicy as desired.


Prepared horseradish is a zippy addition used in some recipes. The spicy, pungent root vegetable provides eye-watering heat along with vinegar and mustard undertones. Just a bit of horseradish infuses the dipping sauce with nasal-clearing flavor reminiscent of cocktail sauce. It adds a wasabi-like kick that plays off the onion and cool, creamy dairy components. Horseradish cuts through richness for the ultimate blooming onion experience.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is commonly added to brighten up blooming onion sauces. The fresh, citrusy acidity balances out the heavier creaminess from mayonnaise and dairy products. Lemon juice also amplifies the flavor of the onion without detracting from it. The tangy juice and zest provide a nice contrast to the fried, salty onion petals. Lemon juice often features in the base mayonnaise recipe itself for extra vibrant flavor.


Vinegar is another acidic component used to lend tanginess to blooming onion dipping sauce. White wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar or other varieties add pleasant puckering flavor. Vinegar cuts through the rich, oily ingredients for a lighter dipping sauce. The bright acidity enhances the overall blend of flavors. Vinegar also thins out the sauce and amalgamates all the components into creamy emulsion.


Fresh or dried herbs are commonly used to add aromatic flavor to blooming onion sauces. Common choices include dill, parsley, chives, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and basil. These leafy herbs introduce complexity along with subtle grassy, licorice, peppery or minty nuances. Herbs infuse the dipping sauce with extra depth and sophistication. They complement the onion flavor for a well-rounded blooming onion pairing.


In addition to onion and garlic powder, various other spices are utilized to season blooming onion sauces. Options like paprika, cayenne, mustard powder, black pepper, celery seed and red pepper flakes add warmth. Allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves impart hints of sweetness. Turmeric or saffron lend earthiness and color. The spices diversify the flavor profile of the dipping sauce.


For an ultra-indulgent twist, cheese can be incorporated into blooming onion sauce. Options like cheddar, gouda, parmesan, bleu cheese or feta add creamy, salty savoriness. The cheese enhances the rich, decadent factor by several notches. It also thickens up the texture for a dip that clings to each onion petal. Just a bit of grated cheese or cheese sauce transforms an ordinary blooming onion dip into an over-the-top addictive cheese explosion.


Crisp cooked bacon bits or bacon fat lend smoky, salty, meaty flavor to blooming onion sauce. Bits of bacon get caught in the nooks and crannies for bursts of porky richness in every bite. Rendered bacon fat can be substituted for some of the oil in mayonnaise to introduce incredibly savory depth. Bacon satisfies a craving for umami and takes the dip to the next level.


In summary, the most common ingredients found in blooming onion sauce include a base of mayonnaise, sour cream or buttermilk plus seasonings like onion powder, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and vinegar. Dairy products like milk, yogurt and cream cheese contribute extra richness and tang. Spicy additions like hot sauce and horseradish perk things up. Herbs, spices, cheese and bacon provide endless flavor possibilities. The specific ingredients and amounts vary widely between recipes, but in general, blooming onion sauce combines creamy, tangy ingredients and robust seasonings that pair impeccably with crispy, fried onion petals for irresistible flavor in every bite.

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