In an attempt to create a good Baked Onion Rings recipe, I’ve had to experiment quite a bit. It hasn’t been easy because, let’s face it, fried onion rings taste fabulous and are incomparable when done right (try slicing up a few Anaheim peppers to mix in with your onions before frying!). And there is much discussion about whether frying in olive or even avocado oil makes deep-fried foods healthy. I’ll just say that I think it’s good to have variety and some of us also want a baked option on-hand.
I knew, first and foremost, that the baked onion rings would need some crunch, so panko bread crumbs quickly became the obvious choice. Then adding just a bit of olive oil to the bread crumbs gave a hint of deep-fried flavor that traditional fried oven rings are known for. And last, but certainly not least, they had to have excellent flavor, otherwise, what’s the point? I added smoked paprika, just a hint of cayenne and some Parmesan cheese along with salt. This seasoning combination worked well together without being too spicy or overpowering.
Soaking the onions in buttermilk infuses a mild, almost creaminess to the rings. Dipping first in flour helps the batter stick to the onions and the panko mixture adds just the right amount of crunch. Set-up the process in assembly line fashion and it goes pretty quickly.
You can serve these with your favorite dip or ketchup, but they’re seasoned perfectly if you want to eat them straight up! This is a baked onion recipe where the rings come out crisp and flavorful and you won’t even miss the deep-fried version (much).
Baked Onion Rings
- 4 cups buttermilk, divided (you can make your own for equal success)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 4 eggs
- 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan, don't add more or the onion rings might stick to the pan
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large yellow sweet onions, sliced 1/4-to-1/2-inch thick
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place parchment paper onto 2 baking sheets and set aside.
- In a large Ziploc bag, add the onions and 2 cups of the buttermilk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but an hour is ideal. Flip bag occasionally.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, paprika, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons salt. In another bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the remaining 2 cups of buttermilk and eggs. Add half of the flour mixture to the buttermilk and beat until smooth and thickened.
- In a separate bowl, combine the panko, Parmesan, olive oil and remaining 2 teaspoons salt.
- Lightly dredge the onion rings in the flour mixture and then drop into the buttermilk. Drain the excess batter and then lightly dredge in the panko mixture. Too much of the panko on the onions may result in your rings being too hard, so don't force more than will cling to the batter.
- Arrange on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer. You can place smaller rings inside bigger rings if necessary, just make sure there is space between them. Then place in the oven. Cook until golden brown, 14 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, flip over each onion ring to ensure even crisping and browning.
Recipe adapted from Pioneer Woman and The Sandwich King.