Who wants to turn on the oven when the temperature is threatening triple digits and the humidity makes it feel like a sauna outside even after the sun goes down? I do, if it means making these onion rings. Because they are totally worth it.
I like saving the best things on my plate for last, and the onion rings always get eaten after the sandwich. So forget meal-planning around the entrée—I have made these onion rings probably oh 5 or 6 times in the last month, and I’ve been doing the grocery shopping according to What Goes With Onion Rings Besides Regular Burgers. Shrimp rolls? Check. Turkey burgers? Check. Patty melts? Check.
The main reason the onion rings are baked and not fried is (confession) I’ve never deep-fried anything in my life and the thought of it kind of terrifies me. Dropping food into a vat of scalding hot oil just sounds like an awesome way for me to get annoyed at trying to maintain the proper temperature, set off the smoke detector / scare the crap out of the dog, and inevitably burn myself with spattering. Coordination isn’t my strong suit, and although I’m pretty adept at quickly jumping out the way when I accidentally drop the chef’s knife that I was holding two seconds ago (it was just in my hand! how did it fall out?!) (this seriously happens about once a week), deep-frying presents a new and uncharted territory of ways to injure myself.
Also, I generally try to keep home-cooked meals on the healthier side. I mean, let’s not totally fool ourselves—these onion rings are still cooked in a slick of oil that I wouldn’t call “scant,” and we’ve basically taken a plain vegetable and beefed it up with a nice layer of refined carbs. But rich food is more enjoyable to me when I don’t know the details about what all is in it. I’ll gladly take French fries, hollandaise sauce, and milkshakes when I’m eating out, but I’d rather not make them at home because then I can’t be as blissfully ignorant about exactly how much oil / butter / ice cream went into them.
So, I tried making these baked onion rings after deciding that getting an occasional fix with the fried kind from the dive bar up the street just wasn’t cutting it. I wanted a non-fried version I could make at home. I was lucky and they turned out pretty great on the first attempt. Now all I have to do is figure out what sandwich to accompany them next… Tuna melt anyone?
Note: Use peanut oil like it says. It has a high smoke point and won’t burn easily. Also use a yellow onion like it says. I tried sweet onion and it turned out too mushy, and the yellow onion completely mellows out with cooking. I’ve never tried making more than 2 servings of these at once since I am usually just cooking for myself and my husband, but I imagine that you could double it pretty easily and use 2 baking sheets, rotated halfway through.
Baked Onion Rings
- 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
- 1/2 medium yellow onion (cut crosswise)
- 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 c. plain dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
- scant 1/4 tsp. table salt
- 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1/8 tsp. onion powder
- generous pinch of garlic powder
- a few grinds of fresh black pepper
- Pour the oil onto a medium baking sheet. (The more tarnished and darker, the better.) Place in the oven, turn the oven to 375°, and let the pan and oil get hot while you prep everything else.
- Cut the onion crosswise into 1/2″ slices and separate out the rings. I usually get 2 slices out of half an onion, and it makes plenty of rings for 2 people.
- Place the flour in a bag. (I use a plastic grocery store bag.) Add the onion rings and shake until evenly coated.
- Place the egg in a shallow bowl and whisk to blend.
- Place the breadcrumbs and all of the rest of the ingredients (salt through pepper) into a different shallow bowl and stir to blend.
- Take one flour-coated onion ring and throughly coat it with the beaten egg, then thoroughly coat it with the breadcrumb mixture. (This part is kind of a pain, but starting with the bigger rings—while there are more crumbs—seems to help. I also find it easiest to use my left hand for the egg part and my right hand for the breadcrumb part.) Place the prepared ring on a cutting board.
- Continue step 6 until all of the rings are coated.
- Using an oven mitt! remove the hot pan from the oven. Use a spatula to spread the oil around evenly. Place the onion rings on the pan, return to the oven, and bake for about 6-8 minutes. Flip, turn the heat up to 400°, and bake for another 6-8 minutes. Enjoy immediately.