Truth be told, these babies were originally created for my husband. I was not an onion ring fan. Until now. In fact, I actually was really grossed out by what I called “the slimy worm” effect of onions rings. Every time we had them, I would try just one, to see if it would be different this time. Nope, always the same, I’d take a bite and out would fall a slimy soft gooey onion. Like a worm. SO gross. In my hand I was left with a crusty oily breaded shell where this slimy worm once lived. Have I made you gag yet?
I was intent on creating a healthy version of onion rings for my husband. One that did not include slimy onions, but instead a crispy, crunchy exterior and soft interior that melded together as one. But how would I get the onion to soften to the point of melting in your mouth? After much thought, I realized that perhaps if I soak the onions overnight, they would soften a bit. Instead of using plain milk, I decided to soak in a homemade buttermilk. Since many onion rings I had seen were buttermilk battered anyway, I thought it would be easy to take the soaking liquid and then create the batter. Less waste, which is always a win!
Since I didn’t want to fry these, and instead make a healthy baked version, I needed a dry outer coating to cover the buttermilk type batter for the best chance of getting them crispy. So my double coated onion rings were born. And what gives a crispy crunchy exterior every time? Cornmeal! Yup, I knew that was the key. But I didn’t want just a boring cornmeal coating. As I was staring into my pantry of ingredients, I came across a bag of pepitas. Yes! Bingo! Pepitas were also crunchy, plus had great health benefits, so I added them to my recipe. Mix in some flavorful spices and BOOM, best onion rings ever! These little guys baked up super crispy, and literally melted in my mouth when I took a bite. The soaking overnight coupled with the double coating created this amazing reaction where the onion and breading became one. Slimy worm effect non existent! I actually loved these and so did my kids! Bummer for my husband because I think he thought they were all his 😉
You guys NEED to make these! And dunk them in my Pistachio Buffalo Cream! With Super Bowl coming up, they would be a perfect treat to bring to any party, or even just sit on the couch and stuff your face with them on your own. Because you will NOT want to share once you try them! So make a double batch. Trust me.
As always, I love comments on the blog if you make it, so make sure to let me know! You can also tag me on Instagram at veggiesdontbite #veggiesdontbite so I don’t miss it! Hope you enjoy as much as we did!
Baked Cornmeal and Pepita Crusted Onion Rings
- 1 large sweet onion
- 4 cups almond milk
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons almond meal
- ½ cup cornmeal
- ½ cup ground unsalted raw pepitas
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- dash of ground black pepper to taste
note: You can make this nut free by using another type of non dairy milk such as soy, rice or hemp milk. You can also use another flour such as oat flour to replace the almond meal. If you are avoiding corn, you can always use all ground pepitas, but you won’t get onion rings as crispy as those with cornmeal.
Tips to prep ahead: Grind the pepitas and make the crust topping the day before, at the same time you make the buttermilk and soak the onion slices. The day of all you will need to do is make the batter, dip, coat and bake.
Mix almond milk and vinegar to create a vegan buttermilk in a long shallow dish (like a baking dish). Set aside. Slice onions into about ½ inch thick circles. Place onions in the vegan buttermilk. Soak overnight for best results or at least 3-4 hours.
Preheat oven to 450. Combine 1 cup of the buttermilk mixture with the almond meal to form a batter and mix well. Place into a bowl or shallow dish. Combine cornmeal, ground pepitas, and spices in a bowl or shallow dish and set aside.
One by one, dip onion slices in batter mixture and coat well. Then coat with cornmeal/pepita mixture.
Serve fresh and dip in Pistachio Buffalo Cream for an extra layer of goodness!