You really can make delicious crispy onion rings that are lighter and just as good as fried ones! The first trick, of course, is to bake them instead of cooking them in a ton of hot oil. But you don’t want to just slice them and toss them in the oven. If you do you’ll probably end up with a tray of burnt onions. That’s what happened to me when I first starting playing around with making my own instead of buying frozen ones from the store.
The onion slices are soaked in unsweetened soymilk curdled with vinegar to begin with. You could use milk or buttermilk if you want. This step helps tenderize the onions and tame their bite a little.
After soaking, you dip them in batter. Club soda is an excellent way to make the batter really light. Feel free to substitute regular water or even milk (non-dairy or not) if you like. Beer also works well!
These are addictively crispy, like potato chips, but better for you. Serve them hot with plenty of ketchup—or try something different like chipotle ranch or wasabi mayo!
Crispy Baked Onion Rings
2 generous servings
2 cups unsweetened soymilk
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 sweet yellow onion, about ¾ pound
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup club soda
3 cups panko breadcrumbs, more or less may be needed
Combine the vinegar with the soymilk in a large bowl. It should thicken and curdle within a few minutes, if not immediately. Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion into ¼” slices. Place them in the soymilk mixture and soak for 30 minutes.
Combine the flour and club soda in a medium bowl. Place the panko on a plate. You may not need all of it to begin with, so start with some and add more as needed.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a baking sheet.
Take an onion ring from the soaking liquid and dip it in the batter. Gently shake off the excess, then dredge in the panko, flipping and pressing to cover as much as possible. (You may also put the breadcrumbs in a bag and shake each onion ring. This seems to be a faster and less messy method.)
Place the onion ring on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rings.
Bake for 20 minutes. Turn and continue baking until lightly-browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer.