Saturday, April 23, 2011

Baked Onion Rings with Bacon Beer Batter

One of my favorite things in the kitchen is to find oven-baked versions of foods that are traditionally fried. Once you get the hang of battering and breading something tasty, then spraying it with oil and baking till it’s crisp, it’s amazing how many reduced-guilt foods you can make. This recipe, for baked onion rings with a bacon-beer batter, is a good example.

As with most food that is breaded and baked, the recipe itself is easy; the steps for coating the food, while simple, need to be done with some care.

In general, breading food (the onion rings, in this case) starts with coating it lightly with flour, dipping it in batter, then pressing it into the breading, all done in a way that a) coats the food and b) doesn’t make a big mess on the counter, your hands, or anywhere else. If you’re doing a few larger food items (such as fish filets), applying the coating is easy, since there’s not much opportunity for your batter to mix with your breading and turn it into a pasty mess that sticks to your hands but not to the food. With onion rings, however, you’re coating a large number of small food items, so batter messing up your dry breadcrumbs can be a real problem. Through trial-and-error (mostly error), I’ve found it’s your hands, not the onion rings, that drop too much batter into the breading. There are a couple of ways to deal with this.

The first is to have the flour and the breading in sealable plastic bags. The other way is having them in bowls, and – here’s the key – using a spoon to move the battered rings into the breading and press them into the breadcrumbs. (For either approach, the batter is in a bowl.) Regardless of which method you use, I’ve found it’s still a good idea to reserve some of your breading mixture at first, and add it to the bag or bowl now and then during the process to help keep the breadcrumbs as close to dry as possible, which is the key to making this work.

This recipe yields 3 to 4 servings. (One onion may not sound like much, but if it’s really a large one you might be surprised at how many rings it makes. The rings on the platter in the photo all came from one large onion.)

Let’s make some tasty onion rings...
Peel the onion, slice it into ¼” thick slices, and separate slices into rings. Discard the smallest inner pieces or store for use in another recipe.

Cook 2 slices of turkey bacon in a pan or microwave oven. When the bacon is done, mince it and set the pieces aside.

Combine 1-1/2 cups each of Panko and plain bread crumbs. (You can also use just plain bread crumbs, but I like the mix of textures you get from combining them with the Panko.) Put half of the mixture in a 1 gallon zip-lock bag or a bowl. Set the other half of the mixture aside, and add it to the zip-lock bag or bowl as needed to keep the breadcrumbs dry while you’re breading the onion rings later. Place 1 cup of all-purpose flour in a bowl or 1-quart zip-lock bag.

Prepare the batter by combining 12 ounces of beer, 2 egg-substitute eggs or beaten regular eggs, and ½ cup of all-purpose flour. Whisk until a well-mixed batter forms. Whisk in additional flour as needed (up to another ½ cup) until the batter is thick enough to stick to the onions. Add the minced bacon to the batter and mix well.

Place the onion rings, a few at a time, in the flour bag or bowl to coat them lightly. Dip them one at a time into the batter, making sure some bacon is included in the batter that’s on the onion ring. Let the excess batter drain off until the onion ring is still coated but not dripping, then place in the ring in the breadcrumb bag or bowl and coat by shaking (if using a bag) or by pressing with a spoon (if using a bowl). If necessary to coat the ring, repeat the batter and breadcrumb steps. Place each coated ring on a baking sheet lined with parchment. (Depending on the size of your baking sheet, you may need two.)

Put the baking sheet(s) with the onion rings in your refrigerator to rest for about 30 minutes. While the rings are resting, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare the dipping sauce by mixing the following ingredients and refrigerating until ready to serve: 1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise; juice of ½ lemon; 2 teaspoons of brown mustard; ½ tablespoon fresh or prepared horseradish; and ½ teaspoon of paprika. (When serving, sprinkle a little additional paprika on the dip as a garnish.)

After the breaded onion rings have finished resting, spray them with cooking spray and bake for about 25 minutes until the coating is crisp. (Turn the baking sheets half-way and swap their positions for more even baking.) If you’re not sure if they’re done, grab a sample and give it a taste. (Even if you are sure they’re done, grab one for a taste anyway. You deserve it!) Season them with salt to taste and serve hot, with the dipping sauce on the side. And try to finish them the first day; leftovers can be reheated the next day, but when stored and reheated they lose a good bit of their delicious crunch.
So there it is: beer, bacon and onion rings. What’s not to enjoy?

If you prefer a cookbook-style, notebook-ready copy of this recipe, say the word and I’ll send it along.

See you next week with another easy, fun recipe. Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)


  1. I would love to have your cook-book style recipe.

  2. Looks yummy Ben! My kids were talking about making onion rings last weekend after we made the caramelized onion dip. I like the oven baking thing! Must try.


  3. I know very few people who will turn down anything made with bacon & onion rings. ~Mary

  4. Allright!! Beer and bacon again, and it isn't fried!! They sound awesome. Great post!

  5. Hi! I just started a blog hop called Savory Sundays and I'd love to have you come over and share one of your fantastic recipes!!

  6. Thanks, Gram! I did not find your e-mail address in your profile, so if you can send it to me I will get the recipe right out to you. I can be reached at, or on Facebook at Kissingthecook Recipes.

    And thank you, Sandra! With trying to keep the fat level down in my recipes, I have found the oven "fry" method to be very useful. (In the coming weeks I plan to post an oven-baked version of Country-Fried Steak, which in some parts of this country would be considered culinary sacrilege! lol) I definitely recommend using the oven when possible.

    Thank you also, Mary and Kim! The original version of this recipe had the beer batter but not the bacon. After the great reaction to using bacon (and beer!) in the Integrated Bean Soup recipe from a couple of weeks ago, I thought it might be interesting to add it to the onion rings. Beer and bacon...perfect together!

    And thank you too, Eating! I'm glad you found Kissing the Cook. I stopped by your blog briefly and the foods there look beautiful! I'll be stopping by again later for a closer look. Looking forward to seeing you again!

  7. These really sound delicious, Ben. I've bookmarked your recipe to try when things aren't quite so busy here. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  8. Thank you, Mary. I look forward to reading what you think when you make this! A great day to you as well. :-)

  9. These look yummy and I like the idea of BAKED ones!

  10. Definitely send me your recipe. I'm always looking to turn on the oven instead of the skillet. I've made these before, using a plastic bag to coat the onions. Much neater that trying to do it with your fingers. Also works very well for breading shrimp, chicken or fish nuggets, what have you.

    - Gitana, the Creative Diva

  11. Thank you, Martha and Gitana...keep on oven-frying! I am ironically grateful for having to avoid fried or otherwise high-fat foods, because it forces me to find alternatives to a lot of the usual ingredients and methods. Grateful, too, for folks like I get to meet here who like it also. :-)