When it comes to onion rings, I’m a bit of a late bloomer. I don’t think I tried my first onion ring until I was in my twenties, and when I did, I can’t say I was blown away. They were a bit bland, greasy, and I could think of a million other foods I’d rather eat.
However, I soon realized that not all onion rings are created equal. Everything changed when I tried Fresh restaurant’s quinoa-battered onion rings. Have you tried these before? Their onion rings have been celebrated as some of Toronto’s best and I could easily see why. They are deep-fried (but not super greasy), crispy, and thick with a hearty quinoa coating. I was an instant onion ring fan after that experience.
Not long after, I was in the kitchen trying to make my own onion rings; only these would be baked instead of fried and more of an “everyday” onion ring if you will. I experimented with a few different coatings and batter mixtures until I found a combo that I loved. My first winning combo involves breadcrumbs, cornmeal, nutritional yeast, dried herbs, and black sesame seeds. Don’t fret if you don’t have one of these ingredients because they can be adapted very easily.
Crispy baked onion rings
Crispy, flavourful, and good-for-you, these onion rings make a great snack or addition to any meal. I could also see a big batch of these being made for a party served with a homemade dip. To make these gluten-free, use gluten-free bread crumbs and gluten-free flour (and of course, double check the rest of your ingredients).
Yield: Roughly 15 to 23 onion rings
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2/3 cup flour of choice
- 2/3 cup plus 1 tbsp vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp cornstarch (or arrowroot flour)
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, but recommended)
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 to 2 tbsp black sesame seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dried herbs (I used 1 tsp each basil & oregano)
1. Preheat oven to 425F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with cooking oil. Slice onion into rings, 3/4 inch in width (larger than shown in pictures as I made mine too thin), and reserve about 15 to 22 or so, wrapping up the leftovers for another use.
2. In a shallow dish, whisk together the batter ingredients (flour, broth, cornstarch).
3. In another shallow dish, whisk together the coating ingredients (cornmeal, breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, salt, sesame seeds, garlic powder, and herbs).
4. With a fork, dip an onion ring into the batter, coating all sides. Now transfer it to the coating mixture and toss it around a bit. Use a clean & dry hand to scoop up coating and sprinkle it all over the ring. If at any time your hands get sticky or coated, simply rinse and dry before starting again. Place onion rings on prepared baking sheets and repeat for the rest. Don’t worry if things get messy or they don’t coat perfectly… Just consider them rustic and call it a day! You will have coating leftover that isn’t used up.
5. Bake for about 18 minutes at 425F, flipping once after 10 minutes. You can broil them for a minute or two at the end to brown. Serve with your favourite dip or ketchup. These are best served immediately.
Note: Keep in mind, you’ll have coating and batter leftover that isn’t used up. This is necessary because you need a good base for dipping.
And if you want to add quinoa to the batter, try puffed quinoa.
Angela Liddon is the creator of Oh She Glows — an inspiring, healthy vegan recipe website — and one of Chatelaine’s Women of the Year 2011. Angela’s passion for healthy vegan food is contagious and she’s eager to show others that vegan (and often gluten-free) food can blow your taste buds away.