Homemade Onion Rings

February 23, 2010 at 10:28 pm 35 comments

Onion skins

Oh the humble onion.  How often I have overlooked thee in my winter local food stores.  You might ramp up the flavor in a soup or an omelet, nevertheless I just wasn’t thinking about what you might do as the star of the show.  But as we enter the “leanest month” – March – for locavores, I gave you a piercing stare as you hung there in your little mesh bags from a peg in my dry cool dark basement where you hold up indefinitely without a peep of complaint.   What can I do with you? 

Onions when I pulled them from my garden

Caramelized onions or French onion soup would perhaps be more predictable fates for a large stash of onions like that leftover from my plentiful onion harvest in the garden last summer.  And you may yet see both of those manifestations of onion goodness here this winter.  But I had a craving and a curiosity to satisfy first. 

Onions whole and peeled

I love onion rings with that crispy salty outside and that soft sweet onion on the inside.  They seemed to show up a lot at lunch during the summers when I was a kid; mom needed a quick side for my dad when he came rushing in at unpredictable times from working in the field.   My dad loves fried food.  Can you blame him?  

Uncooked Onion Rings

Unfortunately I don’t have the physique to get away with eating fried foods in any great quantity.  It stood to reason that my love of onion rings would be well served if I took some of those winter-stored onions and experimented with a healthier and homemade take on this fast food favorite. 

Uncooked and cooked rings

Besides burning the first batch, I declare these a solid success!  By putting a cookie sheet coated with a little oil in the preheating oven, you get the same crispy coating of fried onion rings without the saturated oily side effect.  I can’t take credit for that technique though: I saw Jamie Oliver (on the “telly”) use it once to cook up roasted potatoes faster.   Works like a charm, just be sure to let the cookie sheet get good and hot first, and then flip the onion rings once during baking to get the other side golden as well.

Homemade Onion Rings

So, if you had a good dozen or so large juicy onions still in storage, what would you do with them?  Or, perhaps more importantly, what would you like to see ME do with them? 

Homemade onion rings

Homemade Onion Rings
A Straight from the Farm Original

3 T. canola oil
3 large white or yellow onions
1 egg
1/2 C. buttermilk
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C. all purpose flour
1 C. toasted wheat germ
1 C. bread crumbs
1 t. dried marjoram
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
Preheat the oven to 425 F.  Spread the oil on a baking tray and set inside the preheating oven to get hot. 

Cut the onions into a thick rings.  Separate the rings of the onion with your fingers and set aside.  In a large shallow dish, mix the egg, buttermilk, cayenne, salt and pepper until well combined.  Add the flour and mix until all lumps are gone.  In another large shallow bowl, combine the wheat germ, bread crumbs, marjoram, oregano , and basil. 

Working in batches and using your hands, toss the onion rings in the batter first and then in the bread crumb mixture.*  When you have all the rings coated,  carefully remove the hot baking tray from the oven and immediately place the rings on it in a single layer.  You will likely need to bake them in two batches unless you have a very large tray. 

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden but not brown, turning over once during baking.  Remove from oven and place on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.  Sprinkle generously with salt and serve immediately.

*You can stop at this point and freeze the coated rings on a cookie tray and then put them in a ziplock bag to use later.  Just pop straight on a hot oiled baking pan (no need to thaw) and cook as directed above.

(serve 6)

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35 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mel P.  |  February 24, 2010 at 4:18 am

    So many onions? First idea: something in the range of quiche lorraine/zwiebelkuchen. Ideally with bacon and cheese (eg http://www.lensandlentils.com/2009/02/quiche-with-tons-of-leeks.html, but with onions).
    And what about filling them with ground beef/rice and served with tomato sauce, just like you would do with bell peppers?
    As you’re having summer right now (god, I miss NZ), why not wrap some in foil and cook them in the embers? The smoky sweet flavor goes great with steak.

    Reply
    • 2. Jennie  |  February 24, 2010 at 9:43 am

      Um, hmm…. thanks for the ideas, Mel. However, it’s winter here (I’m in the States, no NZ) and I don’t eat meat so I think I’ll have to come up with some other options. Thanks for the comment though.

      Reply
      • 3. Mel P.  |  February 25, 2010 at 4:42 am

        Sorry, I mixed up your blog with another one that looks almost the same (http://peasepudding.wordpress.com/). Also, I didn’t realize you don’t eat meat – maybe another hint that I read too many food blogs :-)

        The classic German Zwiebelkuchen (onion tart) also works perfectly without bacon and is traditionally served with white wine – and for filling the onions, you could go the bechamel/cheese route and bake them in the oven.

        Reply
        • 4. Jennie  |  February 25, 2010 at 6:55 am

          Now that’s an idea, Mel! I’ll have to look for a recipe for Zwiebelkuchen as it sounds delicious. No worries about the blog mix-up…I read too many too. I wonder if they have a support group for blog addictions yet? ;) Thanks again for the idea!

  • 5. Priya  |  February 24, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Those onion rings look scrumptious, I’m sure I could finish up the whole batch, and then some :D I’m surely going to try this technique soon.
    Got to your blog from a recent blog hopping session and love it :)

    Reply
  • 6. Holly  |  February 24, 2010 at 10:12 am

    They look great – and it answers my question of how to use up onions AND buttermilk.

    Reply
  • 7. Amanda  |  February 25, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Looks great! Love onion rings, and anything with buttermilk is aces in my book!

    Reply
    • 8. Jennie  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      Funny, isn’t it? There always seems to be leftover onion and buttermilk in the fridge. I hadn’t even thought about how this recipe would solve that routine quandry. :)

      Reply
  • 9. Lawre  |  February 25, 2010 at 8:05 am

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. On so many levels. I love onions, but mine are all gone. The walla walla sweets are my favorite for onion rings- and now a healthy version!! almost time for planting here.
    As for a recipe? How about a really tasty stuffed onion- lots of herbs!? Yum

    Reply
    • 10. Jennie  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:19 pm

      Mmmmm, walla walla onion rings would be amazing! I just had yellow onions (‘Frontier’, very easy to grow) in my garden last year but will have to consider adding the walla walla next year. Stuffed onion! Excellent idea – thanks!!

      Reply
  • 11. Dee Asay  |  February 25, 2010 at 11:11 am

    Thanks for the idea now when I make Hamburgers for my kids I can make homemade onion rings.

    Reply
  • 12. anonmessageinabottle  |  February 26, 2010 at 9:45 am

    I have always wondered about mixing caramelized onions in with a great, rustic bread dough. Okay, pretty much caramelized onions in anything is a wonderful thing. Soups, tarts, a frittata with potato and goat cheese, onion and pear jam, ah….the possibilities. My favorite is your tried and true French Onion soup – love it. I used a great ‘beef’ base from better than bouillon and it is wonderful on cold days.

    Reply
    • 13. anonmessageinabottle  |  February 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm

      PS – as I rambled on about onions – I forgot why I started to comment in the first place – Onion rings are one of my most favorite things in the world. I love that you use wheat germ in your breading – I am stealing that!

      Reply
  • 14. Sophia  |  February 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    These onion rings look sooo good! Onions are by far my fave veggies, but I always get nervous when I want to cook with them. I don’t know why. I probably don’t want to mess them up. But your onion rings look so delicious. These are my fave: http://www.recipe4living.com/recipes/fried_onion_rings.htm

    Reply
  • 15. carrie  |  February 28, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I wonder if you could make & freeze a bunch of carmelized onions, then use them a little at a time in sandwiches, other recipes?

    Reply
    • 16. Jennie  |  March 1, 2010 at 8:02 am

      Carrie – Raw onions freeze well, but I don’t think that carmelized onions would do the same. Instead, I would recommend sealing them in a canning jar and keeping them in your fridge. However, I’ve never tried either approach so if someone knows otherwise, please feel free to comment. I’m just going with my gut instinct.

      Reply
  • 17. DZRTJUL  |  March 1, 2010 at 1:45 am

    Corn meal is also a nice addition.

    Reply
  • 18. Carmel  |  March 1, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    those sound divine! I will have to try!

    Reply
  • 19. sippitysup  |  March 2, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I love the herbs in this! GREG

    Reply
  • [...] must make these. They look [...]

    Reply
  • 21. Marysol  |  March 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Gee, I had fun perusing your blog.

    I love the look of your baked onion rings! And while I’ve always had an aversion for deep frying, I still make fried onion rings on occasion.
    But, your baked version (not to mention, your mouthwatering photos) of wonderfully-crispy onion rings convinced me to try baking them next time.

    Reply
  • 22. Holly  |  March 8, 2010 at 9:16 am

    I almost never post comments, but I just had to say thank you so much for posting this recipe! I came across your blog on Stumble Upon a few days ago, and I’ve been craving these onion rings ever since. I finally got to the grocery store to buy the ingredients I was missing and made them last night. Wow!!! These were instantly a favorite here, and I look forward to having them many more times. Thanks again! :)

    Reply
    • 23. Jennie  |  March 8, 2010 at 2:37 pm

      I’m so pleased to hear you enjoyed them, Holly! Happy eating and thanks for the feedback! :)

      Reply
  • 24. Jessie V.  |  March 9, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    I *love* these onion rings. Tonight was the second time we made them. I have some tips:

    1. When breading, use one hand to batter the onions, place in breading, and then use the other hand to cover with breading. I lost a lot of batter the first time because any excess batter on my hands would get coated in breading and then it wasn’t good for anything.
    2. I used baking dishes the second time around instead of a cookie sheet. My cookie sheets warp and so the frying was uneven.
    3. Do not substitute mayo for the egg. I thought I could and the breading just fell right off. At least now I know :-)

    Thanks again for an awesome recipe!

    Reply
    • 25. Jennie  |  March 13, 2010 at 10:53 am

      Thanks, Jessie, for the great tips! I love that you’ve already made the onion rings twice! I hope they’ll become a famiy favorite.

      Reply
  • 26. Alex  |  March 10, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    These were awesome. The recipe is definatley a keeper. Thank you :)

    Reply
  • 27. Johnnetta  |  March 14, 2010 at 11:25 am

    I think that I will try this recipe. I am from the South, and we think
    we know a GOOD onion ring. They look like something that I would
    enjoy.

    Reply
  • 28. Elizabeth  |  March 23, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    I am new to your blog having just discovered it over the weekend. All of your recipes look and sound fabulous, but your photos are equally appealing. It would be nice, if you had the time, to post tips on photographing food. I would love to learn to improve my meager photography skills for fun, and if I could do it using my culinary endeavors it would be very rewarding.
    Thanks for the site!

    Reply
    • 29. Jennie  |  March 23, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      Hi, Elizabeth, and welcome! Thanks for the comment. I’ll do my best to put together a post on food photography tips…bear with me if it takes few weeks though as my schedule is quite hectic in the springtime with getting the garden going. :)

      Reply
  • 30. Jessica  |  March 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Very jealous right now! I have long dreamed of having the space to grow a crop of onions and put them up for storage through the winter. I love the healthier take on onion rings as well!

    Reply
  • 31. cuisinemanager  |  April 6, 2010 at 8:50 am

    I am growing a lot of my own produce and onions + this summer cant wait to try some recipes!

    Reply
  • 32. shayma  |  April 15, 2010 at 8:43 am

    really beautiful blog and beautiful photos-i love onion rings. in our home, we make a Pakistani speciality which we have with tea, as a snack- ‘onion pakoras’- drenching the onion in chickpea batter with spices like cumin and crushed red chili pepper- then frying it. i love your version, too.

    Reply
  • 33. denise  |  May 12, 2010 at 11:46 am

    has anyone tried using whole wheat flour instead of white or whole wheat panko bread crumbs?

    Reply
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