Crispy Baked Onion Rings.
This is how I make onion rings in the oven, not the frier. They are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside without getting soggy.
Like most of us, I made a resolution to keep January on the healthy side. To me that means not saying “no” to any food, but rather watching my portions. Except when it comes to this. I want to eat the whole batch.
Other resolutions? Get more organized, do more DIY stuff (thanks Pinterest), and work on my time management. I’ve been getting to the gym regularly, wearing out my daily planner, and consuming more veggies than I did the entire month of December.
One thing on my planner this month is onion rings. Because everyone has onion rings on their calendar, right? Such is my life.
Have I ever told you about my love for onion rings before? To be honest, they’re really just a vehicle for ketchup. I’ll have a little onion ring with my ketchup, please.
True story: my sister almost bought me an “I put ketchup on my ketchup” t-shirt. I wish she had. I’d wear it all the time.
I’m pretty sure we all can agree that onions taste so much better when they’re battered, fried, and dunked in ketchup. I went ahead and healthified this fried favorite to make it taste even better than what you’d get with your burger at a restaurant.
Don’t believe me? Try them. Dare ya.
I’ve often wondered why onion rings cost more than French fries, but after making these at home, I can now appreciate the work that goes into making the perfect batch!
Fried or not, there are a few things you must know ahead of time before making onion rings. Soaking the onions, applying the perfect amount of breading, some spice, and making sure they’re just crisp enough without getting soggy. Luckily, I cracked the crispy onion ring code in my kitchen yesterday and am happy to share today.
Onion rings are so easy to make a little lighter. And in true form, I’m not sacrificing any of the irresistible taste or crunchy texture in this lightened-up snack!
There are a lot of step-by-step photos for you today. I want you to make the best-ever crispy baked onion rings that you possibly can! Because this is a recipe you’ll want to make over and over again, I promise.
First, you’re going to get some large onions. I suggest some sweet onions for the best flavor. Slice them thick – about 1/2 inch thickness.
You’re going to give the rings a nice soak in low fat buttermilk. This is something I learned from my mom; it’s how she breads chicken. Here’s why you are soaking the onions in buttermilk: the buttermilk soak will soften your onions, making them tender inside the crispy coating. Furthermore, the buttermilk soak will allow the egg whites and all the breading to adhere easier to the onion slices. (More on breading later.)
The longer you soak the onions, the better. So yes, this recipe takes a bit of planning ahead. I soaked my onion slices overnight. Clearly this isn’t a feasible option for most folks, so anywhere from 4-6 hours would be ok. Just know that soaking them overnight will make them all the better.
Don’t have buttermilk? You can make your own. Measure 1/4 cup of white vinegar or fresh lemon juice in a quart-size measuring cup. Then, add enough milk (1%, 2%, or whole) to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1 quart. Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use for the soak.
Get your breading ready.
- Whole wheat flour (because it really sticks to the onion)
- Cornmeal (for crunch)
- Panko breadcrumbs. Not familiar with Panko? Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb traditionally used as a coating for fried or baked foods. It’s available in most major grocery stores near the stuffing.
Here’s why Panko is better than regular breadcrumbs in this recipe: Panko is made from crustless bread and is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes. Panko flakes tend to stay crispier longer than regular breadcrumbs because they don’t absorb as much grease.
You can then flavor the breading with pepper, paprika, salt, lemon pepper, garlic powder. Really, whatever seasonings you prefer. I’ll list what I used in the full recipe below with the option of any said seasonings. The Panko I used was pre-seasoned, but I made a note of that in the recipe.
Once the onion slices have soaked in buttermilk, they take a dip in beaten egg whites and then a generous dip into the breading. If you find the breading isn’t sticking, dip again into the egg whites, then into the breading.
This looks about right. ↓
Place in a single layer on your baking sheet and spray them with some nonstick spray, olive oil spray (which is sold in stores, though you can purchase this handy tool to make your own), or coconut oil spray (I get mine at Trader Joes). You’re doing this to really make sure the breading is soaked in.
Here’s what my onions looked like before baking:
Now they’re ready to bake. I had 2 batches because onions were enormous. Feel free to halve this recipe and only use 1 onion if you’re making them just for yourself and/or one other person.
Here is the important thing about the bake time: all ovens are different! And everyone likes a different level of crispiness. I baked my onion rings in my oven for 30 minutes, rotating and flipping once, and they were perfectly crisp! Especially after sitting out for about 10 minutes before digging in.
Just bake the onion rings until they’ve reached your desired level of brownness.
Not optional? Ketchup! Of course if you’re not a fan of ketchup, dip in BBQ, honey mustard (is that weird?), ranch, or whatever zesty dip you’re a fan of. Kevin left his plain. I know. I mean, I don’t know.
Get ready for your mind to be blown.
Crispy Baked Onion Rings
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 4-12 hours for soaking, 25 minutes for breading
Total Time: 4-12 hours + 55 minutes
Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside without getting soggy. You won't even realize these onion rings are baked!
- 2 large sweet onions, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 1 quart (950ml) low fat buttermilk1
- 4 egg whites
- 2/3 cup (85g) whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
- 3/4 cup (125g) ground cornmeal
- 1 cup (60g) panko bread crumbs2
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- nonstick spray like PAM, olive oil spray, or coconut oil spray (found mine at Trader Joes)
- At least 4 hours ahead of time, place the sliced onion rings into a large dish and pour buttermilk overtop. You don't have to drown the onions, just make sure they are somewhat submerged. Cover tightly and store in the refrigerator. In this step, you are soaking the onions, which will tenderize them. I strongly suggest soaking them for at least 12 hours for the best taste. I soaked mine overnight.
- Once the onions have soaked, remove from the refrigerator. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites. Set aside. In a large shallow dish (I used a pie dish), mix the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, bread crumbs, and the seasonings together until combined.
- Remove each ring from the buttermilk and dip in egg whites. Immediately submerge in the bread crumb mixture, mixing around to coat the onion well. If the bread crumbs won’t adhere, dip in egg whites and then the breading again. If you find you need more breading, make more.
- Lay each breaded ring on the baking sheets in a single layer. You'll have two batches if your onions were quite large like mine. When all the rings are breaded, spray each with nonstick spray to "seal" the breading, which will prevent the breading from staying raw and allows it to bake onto the onion rings.
- Bake each batch for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and flip each ring using tongs. Spray the other side with nonstick spray. Then bake for 15 more minutes. A note about bake time: all ovens are different! And everyone likes a different level of crispiness. I baked my onion rings in my oven for 30 minutes, rotating and flipping once, and they were perfectly brown and crisp. Just bake the rings until they reach your desired level of brownness.
- Allow the onion rings to sit out for 10 minutes before digging in. Enjoy immediately.
- Make ahead tip: Begin the night before by soaking your onions overnight in step 1. You can freeze baked onion rings for up to 2-3 months. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes or until warmed through.
- Read above for why buttermilk is used and how to make your own at home.
- Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb traditionally used as a coating for fried or baked foods. It's available in most major grocery stores near the stuffing. Panko is heavily preferred opposed to regular bread crumbs because they tend to stay crispier longer. You may buy seasoned or unseasoned and then add more/less seasonings to your breading if preferred.
Seasoning - you can flavor the breading with the seasonings listed or use more/less pepper, paprika, and salt. The recipe is written as if my breading was not seasoned. Some other seasonings to try? Lemon pepper and/or garlic powder. Whatever seasonings you prefer.
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Looking for some lightened-up snacks?
Try these Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas.
And these Baked Sweet Potato Fries are so crisp!