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.

How to Make Crispy Baked Onion Rings. Made in the oven, not the frier. Much healthier! Recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to Make Healthy, Crispy Baked Onion Rings | sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to Make Healthy, Crispy Baked Onion Rings | sallysbakingaddiction.com

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!

How to Make Healthy, Crispy Baked Onion Rings | sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to Make Healthy, Crispy Baked Onion Rings | sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to Make Healthy, Crispy Baked Onion Rings | sallysbakingaddiction.com

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. ↓

How to Make Healthy, Crispy Baked Onion Rings | sallysbakingaddiction.com

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:

How to Make Healthy, Crispy Baked Onion Rings | sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

How to Make Healthy, Crispy Baked Onion Rings | sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

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Crispy Baked Onion Rings

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 4-12 hours, 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 5-13 hours
  • Yield: serves 4
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside without getting soggy. You won’t even realize these onion rings are baked!


Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet onions, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 1 quart (950ml) low fat buttermilk*
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup (85g) whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (125g) ground cornmeal
  • 1 cup (60g) Panko bread crumbs*
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • nonstick spray like PAM, olive oil spray, or coconut oil spray (found mine at Trader Joe’s)

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Once the onions have soaked, remove from the refrigerator. Set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Allow the onion rings to sit out for 10 minutes before digging in. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: 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.
  2. Buttermilk: Read above for why buttermilk is used and how to make your own at home.
  3. Breadcrumbs: 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.
  4. 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.

Keywords: crispy baked onion rings

The tricks for CRUNCHY baked onion rings at home! Find the recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

189 Comments

  1. I really can’t believe these are baked – they look sooo crispy and delicious! So interesting about the buttermilk soak softening the onion – buttermilk is the best. Also, that teeshirt would have been such an amazing present – hilarious!

  2. Will this still work without the Pam? I don’t like using that stuff – especially spraying directly on my food.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Brandy – the breading won’t “set” on top of the rings and you’ll have some white flour spots on the onion rings when baked. If you don’t mind that, you can try without the spray. Or find some olive oil or coconut oil spray (I’ve seen both at my regular food store and Trader Joes – respectively – recently).

      1. I will see if I can find some olive oil spray – Thanks again!

        I LOVE onion rings and I can’t wait to try these 😀

      2. Brandy – found something for you – fill this sprayer with olive oil and spray. http://www.amazon.com/Misto-Gourmet-Brushed-Aluminum-Sprayer/dp/B00004SPZV/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1242243332&sr=8-1&tag=apartmentth0a-20

  3. Oh my god these look and sounds amazing!!!! i’ve always been put off by fried onion rings because they just get too greasy, these are perfect! One question though, what can i substitute for cornmeal? Don’t think it’s easily available in India! Can I just use more breadcrumbs?

    1. Hi Gayatri! The cornmeal is used for crunch and really makes these onion rings extra crispy. Since you cannot find it, you could try more bread crumbs and flour – but just know they won’t be as crisp.

  4. I loved your sweet potato fry recipe , so I can’t wait to try these!
    With a whole bottle of ketchup. With these kinds of foods , how can you not?!

  5. These are great! I haven’t had onion rings in so long because I didn’t want to eat all of the oil from the fryer! Thank you!

  6. My fiance’s Clint Eastwood-esque 87 year old grandfather has that shirt and wears it proudly! I guess a love of ketchup spans all ages. Can’t wait to try these — they look sooo good!

  7. I have such a weakness for onion rings, and now I truly appreciate the TLC that goes into a perfect batch. This is a great way to indulge, while keeping healthy new year’s resolutions. Awesome job Sally!

  8. Onion rings that are healthy AND crispy!? Girl, I love you for these! I haven’t had onion rings in so long as they aren’t so waistline friendly, but I love them! Super pumped to try this! Love the soaking in buttermilk tip!

  9. I don’t have a deep fryer, so baking recipes are perfect! Healthier and still so yummy 😀 Once I get home from vacation, I will be sure to try these! I’m currently in Thailand, and my fiancé and I are getting to the point where we really could go for some good American food (I love me some rice and stir fry, but once you have it over a week straight for every meal, you could really go for a nice juicy steak and onion rings haha)

  10. I love that you are incorporating savory dishes Sally, These onion rings look fantastic! I can’t not try them after seeing you dip them into the ketchup! 😀

  11. These look amazing, I don’t like to deep fry so these will be great. Sprinkled with a little malt vinegar and sea salt sounds yummy to me!!
    Thanks so much for the recipe.

  12. Onion rings are a favorite, especially with the amount of onions we grow in the garden so can’t wait to try yours! I posted some crispy hash browns today on the blog so glad to see we’re in the crispy mindset! 🙂

  13. These look perfect. I am a very picky onion ring connoisseur. Nothing worse than ordering mediocre onion rings with limp mushy breading. I can’t wait to give these a try at home. I love to dip mine in a ketchup mustard mixture or a good buttermilk ranch. Mmmm!

    1. Jamie, the limp mushy coating – I’ve had my fair share of those out at restaurants. Never ordered them again. Let me know how you like these!

  14. any way to make these dairy free – any substitute for buttermilk? soymilk?
    BTW, am big fan of ‘your addiction’! your recipes always get compliments, i promise I give you the credit!

    1. Hey Renee – you may certainly sour soy milk by using the same method I do for making homemade buttermilk (described in the post). I’m glad you love my recipes! Thanks for sharing them!

  15. Great tips! I have never make onion rings before, but I should because there so tasty. I am a huge fan of ketchup too!

  16. oh my goodness these have me drooling! i’m thinking of when i can plan to incorporate these into my meals next week!

  17. I love it.. That could be my shirt with basically any condiment/dip! The way I see it most of the time is the chip, fry, etc. is just a vehicle to get the really good stuff to my mouth! Drives my husband nuts.. Particularly over the salsa bowl at a Mexican restaurant 🙂

    1. It’s gotten to the point, Nicole, that I order my own salsa bowl when we go out for margaritas and chips/salsa. Oh well!

  18. When ketchup is involved, it’s always the main dish and everything else is the “side dish”. Haha! Please, please, please tell me you tried dipping your pizza in ketchup! SO GOOD!

    1. I have to say, Lauren – I’ve never dipped pizza into ketchup! I usually just get extra pizza sauce. Another favorite of mine.

  19. These look fabulous, Sally! Yes to soaking the onions – makes a huge difference (I learned from my Hubby:) ). Pinning!

  20. I love the savory + lighter detours that you’re taking your oven! I love my breads/coffee cakes/cookies, but with my 30s around the corner, I’m quickly figuring out I can’t eat 3 cupcakes at midnight without seeing/ feeling the results anymore

    1. Anna, it’s been nice sharing some savory recipes on my blog! I have some more to share soon, too. And 30 is right around the corner for me too. I have to space out my late night pizza and/or midnight snack of cookies these days.

  21. These look AMAZING!! I never would have guessed to soak them in buttermilk. Thank you for the great tips. I will be making these ASAP

  22. These look so delicious! Love the fact they’re so crispy- without the need for frying in loads of oil. Tasty and healthy- I need to try this recipe out! 🙂

  23. These make me want to cry. Literally and figuratively. Deliciousness and without the added grease. Yum!

  24. Love these! I will admit that I am crazy about the fried-version of onion rings, but now I’m incensed with the idea of baking them instead of frying! And yes yes yes with the buttermilk soak– I use a buttermilk soak whenever I make breaded chicken..It’s amazing what that nice long soak does for flavor!

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