This recipe for homemade onion rings uses sourdough discard for the batter and Panko breadcrumbs for a crispy crust. The onion rings are fried to golden perfection on the stovetop. So crispy and delicious!
The versatility of sourdough discard is endless. It shines in this velvety-soft sourdough banana bread, adds incredible fluffy texture to sourdough pancakes, and morphs into creamy, savory batter for homemade sourdough onion rings! The results are spectacular and definitely worth your efforts. Just wait until you try them.
But First, Sourdough Discard: What is it?
You’ll hear the term “sourdough discard” or “leftover sourdough starter” used interchangeably in most sourdough bread recipes. I go into more detail in my book Artisan Sourdough Made Simple. But in short, both terms refer to the unused portion of sourdough starter that is removed before feeding it with fresh flour and water.
Sourdough discard is usually not active enough to make bread dough rise. And despite its name, the “discard” does not have to be thrown away. Many bakers use it to create new recipes which can be sweet or savory. Here, it’s used to make onion ring batter.
About The Batter.
You’ll need two things: 1 cup of sourdough discard and sparkling water. The benefit of using sourdough is added flavor. The flavor can range from mild to slightly tangy. It depends on the condition of your sourdough discard (more info here). Sparkling water, just a splash, thins out the consistency. It should resemble thick pancake batter that clings to the onion rings when dunked. PS: Sparkling water as opposed to regular water makes the onion rings light and crispy- gotta love those air bubbles!
Ingredients You Will Need
For the Onion Rings
- Large yellow onion
- All purpose flour
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika (optional)
- Pinch of salt
- Sourdough starter (discard or bubbly)
- Sparkling water
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Frying oil, such as canola, vegetable or peanut
For the Dipping Sauce
- Hot sauce, to taste
- Snipped chives
How To Make Onion Rings (at a glance)
- Cut onion rings
- Coat in seasoned flour
- Dunk in sourdough batter
- Dip in breadcrumbs
- Fry until crispy
- Make dipping sauce, to serve
How To Cut Onion Rings
To start, trim away both ends of the onion. Use your knife to grasp and pull the papery peels away. Cut the onion crosswise (against the grain) into thick 1/2-inch slices (try not to cry!). Gently separate the slices into rings. I use my thumbs to push the rings outwards, starting in the center.
A Few Tips On Frying Onion Rings:
- First, the onions. Size is deceiving. Just 1 large onion (softball size), sliced and pushed out into rings serves 3-4 people. 2 onions serves up to 6-8 people! Bottom line? Don’t go crazy buying onions. You’ll end up frying for eternity!
- Next: Set up your station. It’s no secret that frying onion rings is a bit messy- I won’t convince you otherwise. However, if your onion rings are prepped and ready to go (coated, dunked & dipped in breadcrumbs) you can concentrate just on the frying part when the time comes. I do my prep on trays at the kitchen table and then move over to the stove. More details in the recipe instructions below.
- Fry between 365- 375 F for perfect golden onion rings. If the temperature falls lower than 365 F the rings won’t be as golden, which is fine, just a heads up. Use a thermometer to double check. Always do a test batch first!
- No thermometer? No problem! Drop a pinch of Panko breadcrumbs into the oil. If they sizzle and turn golden brown, the oil is hot enough.
*This post contains affiliate links. Photo credit & styling: Melina Hammer.Print
Homemade Sourdough Onion Rings
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 20
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
This recipe for homemade onion rings uses sourdough discard for the batter and Panko breadcrumbs for a crispy crust. The onion rings are fried to golden perfection on the stovetop. So crunchy and delicious! For timing the rings are coated in flour first, dunked in batter, dipped in breadcrumbs and then fried.
For the Onions
- 1 large “softball-size” yellow onion (see notes)
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
- Generous pinch of salt
- 1 cup sourdough discard
- Sparkling water or seltzer
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 quart frying oil, such as canola, vegetable or peanut
For the Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- A few dashes of hot sauce, to taste
- Snipped chives (optional)
– About the onions: this recipe calls for 1 large onion, softball size, which serves 3-4 as an appetizer or side dish. If you only have small onions, use two of them instead. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to have a few extra onions on hand as you continue to fry.
– The success of this recipe is all in your set up! Have your onion ring assembly station ready to go. The upfront prep will save you time and scurrying about the kitchen.
Before you begin, set up your assembly station. Grab the following items below, and spread out at the kitchen table or kitchen island for extra space:
- 1 shallow baking tray to coat the onions in flour (9×13-inch brownie pan is perfect)
- 1 large bowl for the sourdough batter
- 1 large bowl for the Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 parchment-lined sheet pan for the battered onion rings
- 1 parchment-lined sheet pan for the breadcrumb coated onion rings.
Now, you’re ready to make onion rings…
- Trim and peel the onions; cut into 1/2-inch slices. Separate the slices into rings. I use my thumbs to push the rings outwards starting in the middle.
- Add the flour, garlic powder, smoked paprika and a fat pinch of salt to the shallow baking dish. Whisk to combine. Toss the onion rings in the flour mixture to coat. Set aside.
- Pour the sourdough starter into a large bowl. Add a splash of the sparkling water or seltzer to thin out the consistency. It should look like thick pancake batter that clings to the onion ring when dunked. Add more flour/water if necessary.
- Place the Panko breadcrumbs into a separate large bowl. Set aside.
- Dunk a few onion rings into the sourdough batter allowing the excess to drip off as you go. Transfer a parchment-lined sheet pan for easy clean up. Repeat to coat all the rings.
- Coat the rings in the Panko breadcrumbs. Use tongs for this. I work with 1 onion ring at a time so the breadcrumbs stay dry. Coat both sides. They don’t have to look perfect. Add more breadcrumbs to the bowl as you continue to work, if needed. Place onto a parchment-lined tray.
- In a heavy bottom pot, heat the oil to 365- 375 F on medium-low. Use a thermometer to check for accuracy- this is important. If you don’t have a thermometer drop a pinch of Panko breadcrumbs into the oil. If they sizzle and turn golden brown, the oil is hot enough.
- To fry, add a few of the onions rings to the hot oil. Cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt while still hot. Repeat to fry the remaining onion rings. Do not overcrowd the pan. Tip: the oil temperature will dip down in between batches. Bring it back up to 365- 375 F as needed.
- For the dipping sauce, combine all of the ingredients (except the chives- use it to garnish). Chill until ready to serve.
- To serve, pile the onion rings onto platter or tray with the dipping sauce on the side for dunking.
Shawna Moroz says
I am wondering if you could prep the rings and freeze them to be cooked anytime?
Anyone try this?
Emilie Raffa says
Shawna, this is a great question. Unfortunately, I haven’t tested this myself so I’m unable to advise with specifics. But if you experiment, please let us know! Off the top of my head: I’d only freeze a small batch to start (make a full batch, freeze a small portion and then just fry the rest). This way, if is doesn’t work out, it won’t be a total waste.
I did exactly this!! Will try to come back to let you know how the frozen ones cook up!
Oh my! Oh my! We had some garden-fresh vidalia onions and sourdough starter just begging to be used. Everyone loved them. :)
Emilie Raffa says
Hi Christine! I love Vidalia onions. What treat from your garden! So glad you liked the recipe!
The first time I saw this recipe, I knew what I’d use it for.
Panfish are one of my favorite things to catch. I’ve used this for fried crappie and bream. Awesome! My family loves it
Thanks for the recipe