Original Sonic Onion Ring Recipe – you can make this fast food favorite at home.

Sonic Onion rings are made fresh every single day. I worked at Sonic as a teenager and had to help make the Sonic onion rings EVERY DAY…the secret is using vanilla ice milk mix, but using melted vanilla ice milk works just as well.

Homemade Sonic Onion Rings on parchment paper in a metal serving basket.

Make Sonic Onion Rings at home

Sonic onion rings are made fresh every single day – these are definitely not prepackaged onion rings. I worked at Sonic as a teenager and had to help make the Sonic onion rings every day. Sonic had bags and bags of onions in the back room. The secret ingredient is vanilla ice milk mix, but using melted vanilla ice cream works just as well. Making rings for Sonic was one of the more memorable and pleasant experiences of my young life.

The Sonic Drive-In Story

What eventually became Sonic was opened in 1953 in Shawnee, Oklahoma under the name Top Hat. In the beginning, Top Hat customers parked their automobiles anywhere on the gravel parking lot and walked up to place their orders. However, Top Hat’s founder, Troy Smith, saw a drive-in that used speakers for ordering. This gave him the idea of controlling the parking so his customers could order from curbside speakers without ever leaving their cars. Carhops would deliver the food to customers sitting comfortably in their vehicles. This technology led to the slogan Service at the Speed of Sound, which translated into one word: Sonic. So, in 1959 the name was changed from Top Hat to Sonic Drive-In. Read more about Sonic.

Sonic’s Menu

Sonic has lived up to its sonic name by surging forward while specializing in fresh, made-to-order meals. Nowhere else can you order from a drive-in menu featuring toaster sandwiches (sandwiches served on thick slices of Texas toast), quarter pound foot-long coneys (hot dogs topped with chili and cheese), and onion rings that are sliced, breaded and made fresh every day in every Sonic drive-in. And the Sonic way includes topping off your meal with a hand-mixed shake made with real ice cream in a variety of flavors or a drink featuring Sonic’s beloved craveable ice.

Make Sonic Onion Rings at Home

You can make this wonderful fast food favorite at home. You don’t even have to be too exact in measuring everything out. However, making these onion rings can be messy, and I suggest trying to use one hand for dry ingredients and the other for dipping the onion rings into the melted ice cream. It will go easier this way. These are messy, but they taste so good and you will never buy store-bought onion rings again.

Looking for more recipes that taste like Sonic?  We have you covered at CopyKat.com with all of your favorite restaurant recipes.

Homemade Sonic Onion Rings and dipping sauce on parchment paper in a metal serving basket.

Original Sonic Onion Ring Recipe

Make your own copycat Sonic Onion rings at home. 
5 from 4 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Sonic Recipes
Servings: 4
Calories: 829kcal


  • 2 pounds Spanish onions sliced, and rings seperated
  • 24 ounces water
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 12 ounces vanilla ice cream melted
  • 8 ounces corn meal
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • Peel onions. Slice onions into slices that are between 3/8 and 1/2-inch. Remove the small center of the onions, you can chop those into diced onions. Separate onions into rings, and place the rings into a large bowl of water.
  • Place three containers in a row. In the first container, place the flour, in the second container, place the melted ice cream, and in the third container place the cornmeal.
  • Preheat oil to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare onion rings by shaking off the water, dip onion into the flour, shake off excess flour. Dip into the melted ice cream, and then dip into the cornmeal. Gently shake off excess cornmeal. Place the onion ring on a cookie sheet to dry for a few minutes before frying.
  • Fry onion rings until golden brown.

Recipe Tips for the Cook

Sifting the flour and corn meal once in a while keeps lumps out and makes it easier to coat the rings When placing on cookie sheets to save room, lean on top of each other to allow entire ring to dry.


Calories: 829kcal | Carbohydrates: 130g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 37mg | Sodium: 89mg | Potassium: 749mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 360IU | Vitamin C: 17.3mg | Calcium: 179mg | Iron: 5.1mg
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About Stephanie

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. TJ

    5 stars
    I worked at a Sonic in NM for ten years. We used the flour, ice cream mix, cornmeal method the whole time for battering. We soaked the onions in ice water for a day and the next day removed the thin skin from the onion. This is a critical step for ultimate onion rings. After we battered we dried in walk in fridge for a day. However, I tried this with gluten free flour at home and it cracked the batter badly.

  2. Noah

    As early as the 90’s, Sonic didn’t use condensed milk or ice cream mix. There were two different breadings and a batter mix.

  3. Charles Case

    I helped start the sonic industries. At age 13, Back in 1960 I started working at the sonic in Stillwater Oklahoma as a carhop making 40 cents an hour. The busness had shortly eariler been transformed from Top Hat to Sonic Drive In, Service with the speed of sound. The owners were Charley Pappy, Troy smith and Gene Longworth, Gene was the manager of the busness in Stillwater. The first new built Sonic was built in Shawnee Oklahoma.
    I worked unger Gene and worked my way up to manager as the years rolled by. Gene was a very good person to work under. Other coworkers were David Castleberry, warner Riley, Loretta Toles. We prepared daily the onion rings, french fries, sliced the lettece and tomatos. Made our own tarter sauce and a liquid smoke sauce. We opened each morning at ten oclock, and closed at midnight. The work was long and hard. We only closed one dat a year and that was Christmas Day. We did close early on Christmas Eve.
    I worked steady at the Sonic until I left to go to the Army
    The menu was a simple minu to prepare, unlike what it is today. The original batter was made with a condensed milk called milnot and not ice cream mix as eariler stated.
    Also they do not fill the busnesses ketchup as we did earlier.
    I went back to work at the Sonic after the military but left shortly after due to wages.
    The Sonic Drive In will always have a special spot in my heart and remember my first pay check of nine dollars. I thought I was rich, that I had earned every penny with no help.

    • Stephanie

      First off, let me thank you for your service! We are free because of people like you.

      It sounds like you had long hard hours, but it sounds like you really enjoyed working with your co-workers. Good co-workers can make or break a job. It sounds like the onion ring recipe has changed a little bit over the years.

      Thank you again for sharing your history with us!

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