That guilty pleasure that everyone is secretly excited about when ordering takeout. This should not…
I can’t even begin to express my love for onion rings. Even more so now that I’ve made a recipe that’s not deep fried and greasy, just perfectly crisp and slightly sweet! Load up because they’re a lot less calories and still hold one of the top spots for my favorite side dishes!
This is a love story. My love for onion rings is undeniable. I’d choose them any day over french fries and tater tots. My love for these battered and fried rings started at a really young age. They have always come through for me as my favorite greasy, late night (early morning) sides along with chicken tenders and ranch.
Silly to say but back in the day, after a late night out with friends and a couple of cocktails, the one way to lure me out of a bar was someone saying “Is it time for chicken tenders and onion rings?”. Just like that I was a puppy dog drooling and running to the nearest after hours food joint for a stack of crunch, crispy onion rings. Yep, that’s all it took to end the night on a high note.
I still drool over them on every menu. Would you like a side salad or onion rings? Onion rings of course! Would you like loaded tots or oni— … ONION RINGS PLEASE! It’s a no brainer in my book and there’s always a need for them.
Seeing my late night drinking days are becoming a thing of the past, and as my waist line appreciates it, I cannot give up the desire to indulge in a basket of rings from time to time. So why do they have to be so bad for you? They’re ONIONS! It’s a low calorie vegetable that can easily be made lean and still gets the job done.
Now, I’m not saying that a greasy fried basket of onions is the same as these airfried rings, but pretty damn close! I almost gave up on making them at home from hand because they’re challenging to make. Getting the coating to stick, getting the coating right and getting the perfect crisp is never the same as the restaurants… until now.
Again, I’m not a fan of giving up what you love but when the craving strikes, this is a recipe that will fulfill that need and still have you feeling good about what you just ate. Although they offer very little nutritional value (let’s call it what it is, its onions coated in bread crumbs) they still taste amazing and are leaner than what we typically eat.
So the love lives on. I will continue to be faithful to one of my favorite side dishes and now I have an opportunity to eat them a little more often without the guilt. That’s what true love is made of, compromise and extra ranch dressing!
Let’s talk about some tips and tricks before you dive in:
- Chilling the onions is a step that I never knew was important. I know this step could be skipped if you’re ready to cook them, however, it helps the coating stick. It also helps the onion stay firm.
- Double dipping the onion rings in the egg mixture helps all the coating stick, however, it’s important to let the excess egg drip off. You don’t want soggy onion rings.
- It’s an art, but I know you’ll pick up on it. When you add the onion rings to the panko, pile as much panko into the center of the ring and press! This helps push the coating to the inside of the ring. While doing that, press as much panko to the outside of the ring. Just keep pressing!
- Parmesan cheese sticks! Not needed BUT I added a little parmesan to the panko and flour because it gets sticky when it tries to melt. Plus it adds a little more flavor.
- Don’t over salt! It’s better to start with a minimal amount of salt and then season the rings at the end. It’s ok to taste the panko mixture and a little of the flour mixture to see if its salted enough but remember, you can add some salt at the end (and parmesan, which I did) if it’s not enough. It’s harder to take it out from the dredging process (lesson learned).
- Replenish if needed! Although I don’t like to waste anything, you’ll notice that not all the panko will be used and throughout the process it’ll ball up and not stick to the onion. It’s ok to add fresh panko and season lightly as you add. Same goes for the flour.
- Move in batches and don’t rush the process. Although this is not a quick, throw-together recipe, it’s important to move in batches when assembling the onion rings as well as air frying them. Be efficient by letting them cook while you start working on upcoming batches. Keep the raw onions in the fridge until it’s their turn. You want them to stay cool.
Air Fryer Onion Rings
- 1 large white or yellon onion (or 2 medium)
- 1 cup whole wheat or gluten free flour
- 1 cup fat free liquid eggs
- ¼ cup almond milk
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt divided
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic divided
- 1 teaspoon black pepper divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika divided
- 2-3 cups panko bread crumbs
- oil-based cooking spray
- Slice a whole onion 1/4” thickness into rings. Peel apart into rings. Lay out on a plate or a sheet and place in the fridge for at least one hour.
- (If you need to preheat your air fryer, set the temperature to 375 °).
- Line up three separate pie pans/baking dishes (9” x 9”) to create your dredging station. In the first dish, pour in eggs and milk and whisk together until evenly combined.
- In the second dish add flour and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, garlic, pepper and paprika. Gently toss all the seasonings with the flour.
- In the final dish add panko and the rest of the salt (1 teaspoon) along with the rest of the (1/2 teaspoon) garlic, pepper and paprika. Gently toss all the seasonings with the panko.
- Remove the onions from the fridge. In batches of one to two rings at a time, toss in the egg mixture until fully coated and then allow excess egg to drip off. Then toss in the flour mixture and lightly coat the whole ring in flour.
- After it’s been in the flour, toss back into the egg mixture and completely coat the ring and then allow excess egg to drip off. Toss in the panko° mixture and fully coat the ring.
- Spray your air fryer with a oil based spray. Place each ring in the bottom of the air fryer in a single layer so they are spread apart. This will also need to be done in batches. Spray the tops of the onion rings with oil-based spray.
- On 375° cook the onion rings for 5 minutes and then flip, spray with oil-based spray and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove and let cool on a paper towel. Repeat steps for all the onions.
- Replace the flour with almond or coconut flour. Pretty much any low-carb flour will work.
- Replace the panko with crushed pork rinds (just be mindful of salting and seasoning).