Is making crispy onion rings possible when you’re baking them? Yes, yes it is possible when you make Za’atar Baked Onion Rings with panko bread crumbs. Serve them with a side of za’atar yogurt dipping sauce.
I’ve never been much of a French fry girl when eating out at restaurants, but boy am I an onion ring girl. If I see an option to substitute onion rings for my side or have onion rings on my burger, I take it. I’ll even take crispy onion straws if onion rings aren’t available. I’m one of those people who says the more (cooked) onion, the better. For my birthday dinner, my dad made me a bag of frozen onion rings to go with my ribs. Except he ran out of onion rings because one bag isn’t enough for four people. Since I was unsatisfied with my lack of birthday onion rings, I set off to make my own at home. I hate deep frying at home, so my biggest concern was – can I make baked onion rings and still have them crispy? The answer -yes!
I bet you’re wondering what za’atar is in these Za’atar Baked Onion Rings. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice mix made of sumac, sesame seeds, and dried herbs, ranging from thyme to marjoram to oregano. My blend has thyme only for the dried herb. You can usually buy it at a specialty spice store or make your own blend at home. I added the spice mixture to the panko bread crumbs, which is the key to making crispy baked onion rings. Of course every good onion ring needs a dipping sauce, so I whipped up a quick dipping sauce with za’atar and Greek yogurt.
I’m trying really hard to remember the first I’ve tried Middle Eastern food or za’atar in general, but I can’t. However, I tend to gravitate towards Middle Eastern food when it’s an option. One of my favorite cookbooks is Jerusalem, which as the title suggests focuses on the cuisine native to Israel. Even if you’re not familiar with Israeli food, you have probably at least heard of hummus – a chickpea mixture often used as a spread or dip (see my Barbecue Chicken Tostadas to learn more about hummus). Although onion rings are a far cry from Israeli food (I’m not even going to pretend to make a connection), I wanted to introduce za’atar in a familiar way so people would be more inclined to try it. Love onion rings? Check! Love za’atar? Let’s try it.
If you’re still unsure about trying za’atar, you can still make these baked onion rings without it. Use garlic powder, onion powder, or even your favorite dried herbs to season the batter.
- 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices and separated into rings
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons za'atar
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon za'atar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 450F. Line the bottom of a roasting pan or cookie sheet with foil. Place a roasting or cooling rack on top then lightly grease the rack with cooking spray.
- Place the onion slices into a 13x9 pan or casserole dish and pour buttermilk over top. Make sure the slices are submerged.
- In a large shallow bowl or dish, mix together the flour and salt. In another large shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs. In a third large shallow bowl, mix together the bread crumbs and za'atar.
- Working with one onion slice at a time, drip off the excess buttermilk. Coat in the flour mixture, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Place on the roasting rack. Repeat with the remaining onion slices.
- Bake for 15 minutes then flip the onion rings. Bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with dipping sauce.
For the dipping sauce
- In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, za'atar, and lemon juice. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.
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