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Oven-Fried Onion Rings

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Good onion rings are hard to find. All too often, the onion rings that I get at diners or from the market are over-fried. The onion has gone way beyond tender and sweet and into the stage best described as flavorless and immaterial. The breading is usually so dominating that what little flavor is left in the overcooked onion requires intense concentration to identify. Even worse are the frozen supermarket onion rings that you reheat in the oven. They either come out soggy or, if the texture is right, they taste as if they were a reconstituted bread product with onion powder flavoring. When Cook's Country Magazine published a new recipe for Oven-Fried Onion Rings involving saltines and kettle-cooked potato chips, I knew I needed to try it.

Usually, home cooked onion rings are dipped in a batter made with some mixture of milk, buttermilk, cream, sour cream, and mayonnaise then tossed in seasoned bread crumbs. The onion rings are then fried or baked. (Frying onion rings always ends up with the best results, but who wants to mess with all that frying oil unless you're already planning to fry something more substantial - like a chicken?) Baked rings have a tendency to not be crispy or crunchy and somehow lack in flavor. Cook's Country solves this problem by using a rich, seasoned batter of buttermilk, flour, and cayenne with a final coating of saltines and potato chips. I've used crushed saltines as an ingredient in a variety of dishes (my favorite being meatloaf), but never used kettle-cooked chips as a cooking ingredient (I tend to eat them before I come up with an clever ideas to cook with them - once I was going to top a casserole with some kettle-cooked chips, but found that I had consumed most of the bag already so I have to use regular potato chips). I was really looking forward to the potential flavors of this onion ring recipe.

Kettle-cooked chips are usually thicker than the run-of-the-mill potato chips and, for this reason, are essential to the crunchy texture of these onion rings. I selected Kettle-brand Krinkle Cut, Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper Flavored Kettle Chips.

I pulled together the ingredients I needed: 30 saltines, 4 cups kettle-cooked potato chips (I couldn't figure out how to measure 4 cups, so I used four large handfuls), 2 medium onions (cut into large 1/2-in. [1-1/4 cm] wide rings), 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup buttermilk, and 1 large egg.

I used a food processor to make a ground mixture of the saltines and chips. I simple dropped all the saltines and all the chips into the processing bowl and gave it ten pulses, each about one to two seconds long.

I whisked the buttermilk with 1/4 cup flour, cayenne pepper, egg, salt, and pepper to form the batter. I then placed the onions, remaining flour, batter, and crumbs next to each other so I could form an efficient dredging, dipping, and coating pipeline. Then I turned on my oven to preheat to 450°F.

I took each onion ring and dropped it into the flour to create a dry surface the batter could cling to. I tapped off the excess of flour and dropped the ring into the buttermilk batter. Using a fork, I lifted the ring out of the batter and allowed it to drip off the excess and then dropped it into the processed saltines and chips. Using my fingers I pressed the coating onto the ring and then transferred to a plate. I repeated for each ring.

I poured 3 tablespoons vegetable oil onto a half sheet pan and slipped it into the hot oven and waited for eight minutes - just enough time for the oil to produce wisps of smoke. I pulled the pan out, tilted to coat the pan evenly with oil, and then placed the onion rings onto the pan making sure none of the rings were touching. I put the pan back into the oven and allowed it to bake for 8 minutes when I pulled the pan out and flipped all the rings over. Another 8 minutes in the oven and the onion rings were done.

The rings were amazing - the best oven-fried recipe I have tried to date. The coating had just the right amount of crunchiness (although not really crispy like the deep fried variety) and was full of flavor. Best of all, the onions had been cooked just to the peak of their sweetness.

Oven-Fried Onion Rings (serves 4)
Preheat oven to 450°F (230°C)
2 medium (200-250 g total) yellow onionscut into ringsdredgedippress to coatarrange on pan
bake 450°F (230°C) 8 min.
flip rings
bake 450°F (230°C) 8 min.
1/4 (30 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buttermilkwhisk
1 large (50 g) egg
1/4 tsp. (0.5 g) cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. (3 g) table salt
1/4 tsp. (0.5 g) ground black pepper
1/4 (30 g) all-purpose flour
30 saltine crackersprocess to crumbs
4 handfuls kettle-cooked chips
3 Tbs. (45 mL) vegetable oilcoat sheet pan
bake 450°F (230°C) 8 min

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Written by Michael Chu
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39 comments on Oven-Fried Onion Rings:(Post a comment)

On March 25, 2006 at 10:12 PM, Ivonne (guest) said...
Subject: Onion Rings
I never thought you could make really good onion rings without frying them, but these look fantastic! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

On March 28, 2006 at 12:13 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I got a bag of Kettle-brand Krinkle chips, no preservatives, no trans. fat, no cholesterol, no fried neither. it's delicious. my hunsband and I like very much. we enjoy it with no high cholesterol concern. Thanks for brought up this hand cooked and oven baked potato chips.

We love orion rings or any crispy snacks, but we are afraid of eating of any oil deep fried food. Thank for the recipe and the demonstration of home oven baked onion rings.

On March 28, 2006 at 06:22 PM, abo gato (guest) said...
Subject: Onion rings
I made these Sunday night. We liked them a lot....the onion itself was just nicely and perfectly cooked...good onion flavor. We too have been trying to eat better foods and fewer things fried. I'm not sure that using potato chips as part of the crust on these will actually qualify these as a better alternative....but, they still are likely to be better than fried ones in that regard.

I think I should have pulsed the crackers and chips a little finer. There were too many big chunks that stuck on the rings. It wasn't bad, but I'm thinking smaller would still be better. They had a nice crunch and were nicely browned where they were resting on the cookie sheet in the oil that was spread there.

Also, I only used one onion and did not have enough batter. Next time, I'll double the buttermilk, flour and egg for the batter....better to have too much than not enough. If you were actually trying to cook two onions, don't think it could have been done as written.

Anyway, thanks for posting this. I also made your pizza last week and it turned out great too! Keep up the good are becoming one of my favorite sites.

On March 29, 2006 at 08:16 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Excellent
Tried this on Monday and it was bloody good. Onions still had a little crunch, none of that "Onion slipping out of the batter when you bite in" problem.

I agree with the above poster - The batter-to-onion ratio works only for medium/small onions. If you're in doubt at all, make more in advance.

On March 31, 2006 at 02:17 AM, MotherCooker (guest) said...
Subject: Thanks
Never thought that you could 'fry' stuff in the oven, maybe I'd attempt to bake other deep fried items and see how it works. Thanks for the idea.

Wish you had also put the pictures of the oiled pan and/or the onions on it, just wondered how 'deep' the oil was. Since I only have small pans, I was thinking of doing a system of putting in the second pan 4 minutes after the first so that I don't have to wait too long to turn the onions.

On March 31, 2006 at 11:34 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Thanks
MotherCooker wrote:
Wish you had also put the pictures of the oiled pan and/or the onions on it, just wondered how 'deep' the oil was.

Sorry about that. I was a little surprised when I went through my pictures and realized I had forgotten to take a picture of the onions on the pan. Guess I got a little too eager.

The 3 Tbs. of oil on a half sheet pan (approx 18-in. x 13-in.) just coats it easily. There's not much depth to the oil level.

On March 31, 2006 at 04:15 PM, Matt said...
I'm really looking forward to trying this - my girlfriend is a big onion ring fan ;)

On April 01, 2006 at 10:59 PM, tgoral said...
Subject: Oven Fried Onion Rings--It's a Winner
Great recipe! I made these today to go with our dinner, and we were all surprised and impressed with how good they were. The coating has just the right amount of crunch, and there's no guilt about eating deep fried onion rings. The buttermilk batter really holds the coating well and has a pleasing cayenne and black pepper bite that isn't over powering. The onions were perfectly cooked and their sweetness worked well with the slight saltiness of the coating.
One note that others may be interested in--the coating is substantial, so you may not want to apply it too thickly. (I tried different variations and found a light coating tasted best in the end--although others may disagree.)
We'll never buy those those frozen "flaked and formed" rings again. Thanks for bringing this our way.

On April 03, 2006 at 11:41 AM, mtcalish (guest) said...
Subject: oven baked onion rings
Oh, these were good. The cooking time was spot on.
I used jumbo sweet white onions, and the results were gone before I could get myself to the table. :lol: I had to wait for the second batch!

This is definitly going into my staple file.

On April 10, 2006 at 08:00 PM, redfox said...
These are really great: flavorful, good texture, and cooked just the right amount. I also appreciate the way that they avoid the classic tunnel-of-onion problem (where the onion pulls out of the coating like a handkerchief from the sleeve of a magician), though I suppose this may have something to do with the fact that I can now eat them instantly as soon as they're done. Thanks for testing and posting this recipe.

On May 14, 2006 at 11:29 PM, photoleif (guest) said...
Subject: great recipe! thanks
i lacked buttermilk and avoid eggs, so made it with fat-free half-n-half curdled with a couple tablespoons of vinegar. i also lacked potato chips so i used some oven-baked rosemary hors d'oeuvres crackers instead, haha. the rosemary is an interesting variation, but they're low-fat and have no trans fat either. not sure if i'd do the rosemary variation again but the plate of 'em sure disappeared rapidly anyway ;) for oil, i used olive oil, which worked great and is a healthy alternative. i second the vote to make a bit more batter than is called for. the floured onion soaked it up pretty rapidly and left some areas unbattered.

On June 28, 2006 at 12:53 PM, Krikey, Mate (guest) said...
Try this tip from Cooks Illustrated on their oven baked fries to get a crunchiness similar to deep frying- if you have an oil pump-aresol bottle, spray the rings after they are on the pan (or ideally both sides right after you pull the rings out of the batter) with a thin spray of oil- i prefer olive oil). Because spraying the sides evenly coats the rings with oil, you'll get crunchier rings than if you had just laid them down on a thin layer of oil.

Nonstick spray also does the trick in case there are people that prefer not to use any oil at all. (though not as well)

On August 16, 2006 at 03:10 PM, Cassie said...
I'm cooking for my family tonight, and using this recipe. I couldn't find kettle chips, so I'm hoping it'll turn out okay. I'll post the results.

On January 04, 2007 at 12:12 PM, none (guest) said...
Subject: Super!!
Why do people take the time to post comments? Does anybody care what you have to say?

On February 18, 2007 at 08:00 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Actually, I care -- I read the comments to see if anyone else has tried the recipe, and their results.

Greater sample, more opinions. If you notice other sites like Allrecipes . com have similar comments for useful suggestions, such as adding/removing portions of ingredients or changing temperature times.


On July 06, 2007 at 06:32 PM, darus67 said...
Subject: Onions
I'm surprised that the onion itself wasn't discussed in more detail.
What kind of onion makes the best rings?
White, yellow, red?

Aren't Vidalia onions sweeter and less 'sharp' than other kinds?
I would think they would make for better rings.

On August 10, 2007 at 07:01 PM, paladinii (guest) said...
Subject: Vidalia onions
Don't use vidalia onions anywhere heat is applied. They get even sweeter (in a nasty sorta way). Of course, if you really need super sweet flavors, you could always use regular onions and dump 1/4 cup of sugar on them. UGH.

On November 14, 2007 at 08:35 PM, norm muehleck "qasi (guest) said...
Subject: (a) baked onion rings (b) recipe format
(a) Thanks! Can't wait to try them.

(b) Wow, what a cool format for recipes, merging Ingredients and Method in, essentially, a Gantt chart--have never seen that before, though intuitively I thought there must be something like--and here 'tis!

(Go easy, please; this from an auld, auld mech. engr.)

On January 08, 2008 at 10:36 PM, Frank (guest) said...
Subject: I Care
I care also. I regularly read the comments. For this recipe, I saved a few comments along with the recipe in my recipe file.

On July 16, 2008 at 08:09 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: oven fried onion rings
I used this recipe today...cut it in 1/2 for one person and omitted the potato chips (didn't have any and it was a spur of the moment thing) I used vidalia onions and it turned out fabulous! The onions were so juicy and the breading was nice and buttery crisp yum! Wanna see a picture? No? Too bad, here is one:
Edited: The image was no longer working (Michael)

sitting on a plate with my vegetarian sloppy joe ready to be wolfed down. Thanks for the recipe! ;)

On July 23, 2008 at 11:29 AM, Zero200 (guest) said...
Subject: Great!
After reading your report, I was inspired. I left work and went directly to Safeway. Picked up all the nessicary items, and headed home. They complimented supper that very night. Simple, cheap, great tasting, and the most expensive part happens to be the kettle chips. And who does not want a reason to buy some kettle chips?

I have reccomended this recepie to others, and will be sure to use it again. Thanks for the post.


On July 30, 2008 at 11:06 PM, an anonymous reader said...
As for onions to use, I think walla wallas are the best for rings, if you can get them. They are huge, and pretty sweet. The size (in both diameter and ring thickness) makes them particularly easy to work with for rings... make 'em an inch thick I say. (Better onion to batter ratio for the end product.)

A local semi-fast-food join in these parts (Burgerville... they specialize in "high quality" fast food using local ingredients... really much closer to restaurant fare than most fast food) makes gigantic onion rings when the walla wallas are in season, and they are some of the best rings I've had. Most of my other favorites have also been walla wallas.

They do just fine with heat too, and don't get icky (like someone said for vidalias). At least not in my opinion.

On July 31, 2008 at 09:16 AM, Mike K said...

Did you give your recipe to America's Test Kitchen, or did they come up with almost the exact same recipe? I just saw this recipe on PBS this past Saturday here in St Louis. If your interested in their recipe, go here:
You may need to register to actually see this. I can also PM if you're interested. Still sounds like a great recipe and I always like your and America's Test Kitchen's recipes since they almost always work as advertised -- I can't say that of many other recipes.


On August 04, 2008 at 03:18 AM, Michael Chu said...
Mike K wrote:
Did you give your recipe to America's Test Kitchen, or did they come up with almost the exact same recipe?

The recipe is credited to Cook's Country magazine. Cook's Country (as well as Cook's Illustrated) is owned by the same parent company and publisher as America's Test Kitchen.

On August 29, 2008 at 02:16 AM, demibelge (guest) said...
Subject: zucchini & mushrooms worked also!
Just a note to say that I tried doing slices of zucchini and whole crimini mushrooms along with the onion rings and they all worked very well!

On September 08, 2008 at 07:46 PM, Susan (guest) said...
Subject: Onion Rings
I made these FANTASTIC onion rings yesterday for supper with Curry Chicken Kebabs from Cook's Illustrated Summer Grilling and Entertaining 2008. My husband looked at me strangely when I suggested that we have them. Now he thinks they are the best thing since beer. We are planning on having them on the weekend again with hamburgers. The only thing I would suggest is to process the crackers and chips separately and mix or alternately in half and half as my food process was full with 30 crackers and 4 cups of chips and had a difficult time processing to the correct consistency.
I am planning on trying more of your suggestions, Mike.

On October 11, 2008 at 12:24 AM, Howard said...
What's the mass of the potato chips?

On October 11, 2008 at 12:50 AM, Michael Chu said...
Howard wrote:
What's the mass of the potato chips?

It's not really important - your using them to coat, so the exact amount is not as relevant as having enough to coat the rings...

On September 16, 2009 at 05:56 PM, *slim* (guest) said...
Subject: I love your site!
I stumbled across this site looking for another recipe. I have been visiting every since! I made these onion rings last weekend. They were heavenly! So crisp and flavorful! Thanks for making an awesome site!

On January 03, 2010 at 06:52 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: My no onion 8 year old says MMMMM!!!
These took a bit more work than I hoped but for not fried they are pretty darn good. Would have been better if I had remembered to add salt to the past mixture! I just added it later though. I had to make due without the chips as I don't keep them on hand. I crush up some home made classic chex mix though and it added a bit more crunch and flavor. I will definitely make these again and play with my seasonings.


On July 05, 2010 at 05:04 PM, Faux-Fryer (guest) said...
Subject: Best Baked Onion Rings Ever. Period.
This recipe is phenomenal. I am a big fan of "oven-fried" foods, so I am forever trying out new recipes. I made a few modifications to this, but it turned out great -- in particular, I didn't have chips, so I just used some seasoned bread crumbs and cornmeal to make up the difference in the crumb coating. Also, I didn't have buttermilk, so I used skim milk with enough vinegar to sour it...a great substitute for buttermilk in any recipe. And finally, I used only nonstick spray, spritzed directly onto the pan, then on top of the rings, then on top of the rings again after I flipped them. One other trick: I employed my secret weapon, a nonstick silicone pan liner (the only brand name I've found is Silpat). Sadly, no leftovers! :o)

On August 14, 2010 at 01:56 AM, CraigL said...
Subject: Using Red Onions
We've used typical yellow onions or Spanish onions for most cooking, but recently changed over to red onions. They're much more flavorful, they're large and they provide a more robust onion flavor across the board. In onion rings of any kind, or even onion "petals," they hold together well and you can easily take two rings together and coat, then fry. Having switched, we don't expect ever to go back.

(a bit later...)

We finally tested these, and they're not as good as oil-fried. Several reasons: First, the oven temp and time are 16 minutes, which means the onion bakes inside the breading. As such, the onion gradually dissolves, leaving far too much breading-to-onion ratio.

Secondly, because of oven frying the steam from the onion escapes through the breading, taking with it the flavor of the onion. Additionally, the buttermilk has a fairly evident flavor, which interferes with the more delicate onion flavor.

A thinner batter would help, and we use one made with club soda, cornstarch and instant mashed potatoes. About 2 inches of oil in a pan heated over medium high flame on the stove gives a nice frying heat, close enough for rock-n-roll to 375-degrees (F).

Coat with flour, dredge in batter, coat with Panko or the above breading. When it hits the hot oil, the outer coating seals immediately, trapping steam and flavor. Cooking time is only around 3 minutes, therefore the onion is closer to raw and retains some crunch.

All in all, the breading in this recipe is terrific! But the final product was too "bready" and much too alike to supermarket frozen rings, which aren't very good in our estimation. Here's a link to the deep-fried recipe we're using:
Crispy Panko Onion Rings

On May 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM, Joe (guest) said...
Subject: CopyCat
Funny how this exact recipe was shown on Americas Test Kitchen.

On May 25, 2011 at 08:27 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: CopyCat
Joe wrote:
Funny how this exact recipe was shown on Americas Test Kitchen.

Cook's Country is published by the same folks that produce America's Test Kitchen.

On March 17, 2012 at 08:56 PM, leandrokoiti said...
Subject: amazing
simply amazing! I see people comparing those to their fried counterpart, there's no comparison, these are baked, the other is fried so you just can't compare, they are two different things, if you don't want onions coated in oil this recipe will must be your way to go

On February 12, 2013 at 01:53 AM, ceeli (guest) said...
Subject: oh my god, i'm worn out just reading this...
dayum... just cut your rings, drop them in buttermilk, then into a zip-lock filled with WHITE LILY PLAIN FLOUR, shake, then fry in hot peanut oil. these are like you plucked the wings off the onion ring fairy, tender and mouth watering. 'course, i pretty much fry everything like this. works great with zucchini, green tomatoes, eggplant, pork chops, chicken, whatever.

On February 12, 2013 at 01:03 PM, Tom (guest) said...
Methinks you missed the point of this recipe... it's supposed to be for people who want good onion rings WITHOUT frying. Obviously, anything deep fried will taste good, but what if you don't want to deal with all that frying oil?

On June 04, 2013 at 11:43 AM, apgreff said...
Wow, that have to be tasty ^^

On September 13, 2015 at 02:17 AM, John (guest) said...
Subject: Oven Fried Onion Rings
How about ritz crackers and saltines ?

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