Way back in the summer, which feels like ages ago now (ha!), I made some gluten-free onion rings one night to go along with our dinner. I don’t normally do a lot of deep frying, so it’s pretty unusual for me to have a pan full of hot oil. I think we were making falafel that night, and so I thought I would take advantage of the opportunity. I know onion rings may seem like something you’d only eat with a burger or other kinds of fast food, and not really something you’d make at home, but I’m here to tell you – it’s worth it! And besides, it can be very, very hard to find Gluten-Free Onion Rings, so why not make them yourself? I gave them a little fall twist by making the batter with hard apple cider and serving them up with Pumpkin Sage Aioli. Oh, yes I did!
This recipe is about as simple as you can get. I used Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix (my personal favorite) for the batter. Using a high-quality gluten-free mix takes the guesswork out of combining a bunch of gluten-free flours and starches. That’s actually how I decided to make onion rings in the first place. I was craving them like crazy and didn’t want to mess around with coming up with a batter that could potentially fail, or slide off the onions once they hit the hot oil. I remembered that I had a bag of the baking and pancake mix in my cupboard. Using that mix made it a snap to make gluten-free onion rings. (p.s. This mix also make the most fantastic gluten-free pancakes ever. I just stocked up on a giant bag to get me through the holidays! Whole Foods is having a great sale right now!)
Let’s talk about onions for a second. You should have seen the tears rolling down my face as I was slicing these giant onions. So strong! I like using sweet onions because I love the way they taste, but you an use any kind of onion you can find. You just want to make sure to slice them thick enough. Unless you’re a fan of thin and super crispy rings, then by all means slice them thinly. I ended up cutting the onions through the middle into 4 thick rounds, about 1/2-inch thick each.
By the way, you can totally make these onion rings with water, but I thought it would be kinda fun to make these with gluten-free hard apple cider. It made the batter extra light and fluffy too.
The batter should not be too thick or thin. It needs to cling to the onions, but not coat thickly coat them. It should be thin enough that the excess drips back into the batter bowl when you lift them into the oil. And I highly recommend eating them fresh out of the fryer. They are so addictive. But if you want to wait until the whole batch is done, place a baking pan in a 250°F oven to keep them hot and crispy.
Because I can’t just have my onion rings with ketchup, I have to go and get all fancy, I came up with a yummy pumpkin sage aioli that you are going to LOVE. I make Martha’s recipe for aioli because it always works for me. I did make some minor changes like using apple cider vinegar instead of lemon juice, and adding in dried crumbled sage, a pinch of nutmeg, and a few spoonfuls of pumpkin puree. Each bite tastes like deep-fried, pumpkin-dipped fall. :)
Thanksgiving is only a few days away, so it might seem crazy to be so enamored with gluten-free onion rings. But here’s my suggestion to you – buy a few extra onions to fry up the day after. Imagine you have leftover turkey and you want to make a nice sandwich (on gluten-free rolls, of course) and you need the perfect crispy side to go with. Naturally, you’ll want to make these. And you might even want to schmear a little of the aioli on your sandwich too.
- For onion rings:
- 2 quarts oil, for frying
- 2 cup Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix
- ¾ to 1 cup hard apple cider or water (start with less)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2-3 large sweet onions, cut into ½-inch slices
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground black or white pepper
- For aioli:
- 1 large whole egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt (to taste)
- ½ cup flavorless oil, such as avocado or grapeseed oil
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons pure pumpkin puree
- 1 tablespoon dried crumbled sage
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- For onion rings - Pour oil into a heavy-duty pan with tall sides and begin preheating oil to 350° to 375°F. (Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.)
- Whisk the spices into the baking mix. Add the hard cider (or water) and eggs. Whisk until smooth. If the batter seems too thick, add a little more cider or water. It should not be thick enough to cling to the onion rings, but not too thick.
- Lay brown paper or paper towels on a cooling rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet.
- Separate the onion slices into individual rings. Place 5-6 onion rings into the batter. Use a fork to submerge them in the batter. Remove from the batter, letting any excess drip back down into the bowl. Carefully lower the battered rings into the hot oil. Let cook for 30-60 seconds, or until golden brown, then turn each one over and let cook on the other side until golden. Transfer to the baking rack to drain. Repeat with remaining onion rings. (I don't fry the very small inner rings, I save them for another use.) Keep warm between batches. If they get too cool, place in a 250°F oven to keep warm. Serve warm with aioli.
- For aioli - In a blender or food processor, place whole egg, apple cider vinegar, mustard, garlic, and a little salt. Pulse until well-combined. With the motor running, pour the oils through the feed hole in a slow drizzle. The mayonnaise will start to thicken and you'll hear the sound change. That's when you'll know it's time to turn off the blender or food processor.
- Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the pumpkin puree, sage, and nutmeg. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes about 1 cup.
Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with and sponsored by Pamela’s Products as part of their 2015 Baking Partners program. All opinions expressed are 100% my own.