Onion rings may be heavenly, but they’re also deep-fried in oil, which tends to double the calories of what was once an extremely healthy vegetable. However, these air fryer onion rings forego the oil and maintain their crispness. These crispy onion rings are perfect for a quiet night in with all the pleasure of eating out, with none of the guilt.
What are Air Fryer Onion Rings?
Their name perfectly describes what onion rings are. They are rings of onions, breaded or battered, and typically deep fried. Onion rings may be a side dish, but they’re also eaten with a dipping sauce as a pub snack.
Shop-bought or restaurant onion rings are usually similar and cooked from frozen. However, some use rings of onions, while others may mince the onion and shape it into their recognisable ring form. These onion rings tend to lose the texture of a whole onion. Yet, I hate eating an onion ring and pulling all the onion out, leaving me with a piece of batter. Yet, the minced onion version also lacks flavour. I suppose it all comes down to preference.
Why are Onion Rings So Popular?
This is a difficult question to answer. Onion rings may be popular due to their ease and relatively cheap cost to produce and thus to sell. However, fried food, with its crispy exterior and juicy interior, has always proved popular, whether it’s an onion ring, French fry, or chicken tender. It also helps that frying onions releases bispropenyl disulfide, a chemical compound that tastes and smells sweet.
How to Make Air Fryer Onion Rings
To make these air fryer onion rings, we first need to bread them. Breading foods means to coat them in a dry mixture, typically breadcrumbs, hence its name. It’s called pane, after the French term for bread, in professional kitchens, but it results in the same product. A similar technique to breading is known as dredging, where foods are coated in a dry mix such as flour and then fried. In both cases, the coating seals in heat and helps the interior steam, keeping the centre juicy and tender.
When I developed this recipe, I considered dredging the onion rings in a seasoned flour mix and then frying them. To do this, I’d have soaked the onion rings in milk for some time to ensure they were wet enough to hold the flour, then air-fried them. However, this method doesn’t work as well as breading without oil. Therefore, I found it best to breadcrumb the onion rings.
First, set up a breading station with a bowl of seasoned flour, a separate bowl of beaten egg, and another bowl of panko breadcrumbs. Cut the onion into rings, then dredge them in flour, ensuring an easy coating. Shake off the excess, submerge them into the egg, and shake off again before coating them in breadcrumbs. Shake off the excess breadcrumbs, then lay them in a flat layer, repeating with all the onion rings. Then, spray them with vegetable oil and pop them in an air fryer. Air fry them in a single layer at 180c until crisp and golden. You may need to cook the onion rings in batches.
Air Fryer Onion Rings
- 2 Large White Onions
- 120 g Plain Flour
- 1 Tsp Paprika
- 1 Tsp Garlic Powder
- Salt / Pepper to taste
- 4 Eggs Beaten
- 75 g Panko Breadcrumbs
- 15 ml Vegetable Oil in a Spray Bottle
- Cayenne Pepper to dust
- Arrange the flour, egg, and panko breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Combine the flour with paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Slice the onions into rings around 1cm thick and dredge them in the seasoned flour. Remove and shake off the excess flour.
- Place the floured onion rings into the egg mix, remove and shake off the excess.
- Place the eggy onion ring into the breadcrumbs and cover evenly. Remove and shake off the excess.
- Lay the onion ring in a flat layer, then repeat until all the rings are coated in breadcrumbs.
- Preheat the air fryer to 180c and fry in a thin layer for 12-16 minutes until the onion rings are crisp and golden. You may need to do this in batches.
- Season to taste and dust with a pinch of cayenne pepper.