Coated with a combination of cracker and potato chip crumbs and served with a spicy, creamy sauce, these oven-fried onion rings are a perfect side or snack!
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I have a weird relationship with onions; I always have. I’ve shared pretty openly here about my disdain for raw onions, which I can oddly eat chopped up finely in salsas or on Mexico City-style tacos but otherwise they make me cringe and I am not lying when I tell you that they bring tears to my eyes. Really. It’s a taste/texture thing. That crunch combined with the sharpness…sends me over the edge.
Cooked onions are something completely different, though. It’s a rare dish that I make that doesn’t include some onion, diced or caramelized or otherwise. What’s really funny about it is that even as a kid, when I would pick the tiniest bits of cooked onion out of my dinner, I loved onion rings. I really don’t remember ever not loving onion rings.
Here in Chattanooga there’s a local chain of restaurants (they have several locations around Chattanooga) called Ankar’s Hoagies and one of my favorite memories of my childhood is going to Ankar’s with my grandparents. I’d always have the fried chicken rider (chicken tenders in a pita with mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes) and a cherry-lime drink that they served, and we’d get a couple of orders of their fabulous onion rings to share at the table. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much my standard order at Ankar’s to this day, minus the drink (which I’m sure is still delicious, but I usually just drink water these days).
As a kid, I’m sure that the shatteringly crisp coating on the gigantic onion rings at Ankar’s was what drew me to them, and I kind of remember discarding the onion from the middle when it would fall out while I was eating one. Over time, though, I grew to love everything about those onion rings, and to this day onion rings bring back fond memories of those lunches with my grandparents. I am not really a fan of frying, though, so they aren’t really something I’ve made at home much. Until, that is, I found a recipe for oven-fried onion rings in my copy of The Cook’s Country Cookbook. What could be better than soft onions coated in a crispy, salty coating of crushed potato chips and saltine crackers…I mean, really?!?!
I had never heard of comeback sauce until a few years ago while eating at the now defunct Market Street Tavern, but apparently it’s a Southern standard. It’s worth taking a few minutes to whisk these ingredients together to have a dipping sauce that’s a little more special than ketchup. And these onion rings are PERFECT on top of my bacon cheeseburgers with honey BBQ sauce.
These oven-fried onion rings take just a little more than thirty minutes from start to finish…well worth the time to not have to put on your shoes, get in the car, and head to a drive-thru.
Yield: 4 servings
20 minPrep Time:
15 minCook Time:
35 minTotal Time:
- 2 large yellow onions, cut into rings 1/2 inch wide, rings smaller than 2” in diameter reserved for another use
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups kettle-cooked potato chips
- 40 saltine crackers
- 6 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (I used sriracha, but I’m sure something like Tabasco is more traditional)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour half of the oil into each of two baking sheets.
- Process the potato chips and saltines in a food processor until they form very fine crumbs. Place 1/4 cup of the flour in a bowl. Whisk together the remaining flour, the egg, the buttermilk, cayenne, salt, and pepper in another bowl. Pour half of the cracker/chip mixture into a third bowl.
- Dredge the onion rings into the flour, then the wet mixture, then the potato chip mixture to coat completely. Place the coated onion rings on plates or cooling racks as you work. Halfway through the process, refresh the crumb bowl with the remaining crumbs.
- Place the oiled baking sheets into the oven until the oil is smoking, about eight minutes. Remove from the oven and, working quickly, place the onion rings onto the pans. Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully flip each onion rings. Place the pans back into the oven, reversing their position in the oven. Bake for another 7 minutes.
- While the onion rings are baking, whisk together the sauce ingredients. Serve the onion rings hot with the sauce for dipping.