Deep-frying onion rings at home can be a time-consuming, messy business. It's also not good for your heart or your waistline: A typical serving of fried onion rings can have more than 900 calories, 50 grams of fat and nearly 9 grams of saturated fat. Oven-fried onion rings are a good alternative, say the experts at America's Test Kitchen. To make homemade onion rings in the oven, you'll need to use a different coating and a different cooking procedure than you would employ for deep-fried onion rings.
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Choose and Slice the Onions
You can use any type of white, yellow or red onion to prepare homemade onion rings, but if you're sensitive to the pungent bite of some white onion varieties, try a sweet onion such as Vidalia, Walla Walla, Rio Sweet or Oso Sweet. Cut each onion into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices, discard the peel and gently separate each of the slices into individual rings.
Skip Traditional Batters and Breading
Traditional deep-fried onion ring recipes usually call for the rings to be coated with a thick batter or breading heavy in flour, eggs and a liquid like milk or beer. Don't try to use these recipes when you're oven-frying onion rings -- they won't work. Instead, America's Test Kitchen recommends using a mixture of crushed kettle potato chips and saltine crackers as your primary breading for oven-fried onion rings that taste as if they've been in a deep fryer. You can also experiment with panko, whole-wheat breadcrumbs or crushed corn flakes.
Use a Multistep Coating Procedure
Set out three bowls when you're ready to begin coating the onion rings. One bowl should contain flour seasoned with salt, pepper or your choice of herbs and spices. Use whole-wheat or white whole-wheat flour for the most nutrition, advises physician and recipe developer Sonali Ruder. Plan on using about 1/4 cup of flour for rings cut from two large onions. Pour low-fat buttermilk into the second bowl. For a thicker, crispier coating on your finished onion rings, you can beat the buttermilk with eggs -- use one egg for every 1/2 cup of buttermilk. In the third bowl, place your chosen breading, tossed with spices and herbs, if desired. Dip each onion ring first in the flour, then the buttermilk and, finally, in the breading, coating each ring completely.
Bake Instead of Frying
According to America's Test Kitchen, oven-fried onion rings should be baked at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat rimmed baking sheets that have 3 tablespoons of oil on each sheet in the oven, or line each sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Arrange the onion rings on the sheets and bake for approximately 15 minutes, turning each ring over and rotating each baking sheet after about seven minutes. Using tongs, place the finished, golden-brown onion rings on a platter that has been lined with paper towels. Let them drain off excess oil for a few minutes, then serve hot.