Sometimes things get weird when your job involves developing recipes. Consider the day last summer when I found myself playing mixologist at 10 in the morning because I needed to create a cocktail recipe. Or when I was working on the Sweets chapter of my cookbook and spent an entire workday eating nothing but chocolate pudding. Or last week when I cooked up a big batch of onion rings, something I’ve rarely eaten and never made, with nobody to share them with but myself. This fact, it turned out, was perfectly agreeable because THEY WERE DELICIOUS. And because they were a whole lot lighter on the palate and the waistline than the sort of onion rings you might find in the drive thru line.

Lighter Beer Batter Onion Rings are from a book that I’m pretty excited to sink my teeth into called Lighten Up, America by Allison Fishman Task. It’s a cooking road trip across the country and features some of our favorites from coast to coast. Because the book is published by Cooking Light, the recipes are all (you guessed it) lower in fat and calories than you might expect. I’ve already bookmarked a few: Texas Sheet Cake (hello!), Lobster Rolls (for Mr. Mom’s Kitchen), Magic Cookie Bars (for me the kids), and Five Layer Dip (for company).

Lighter Beer Batter Onion Rings

Unlike deep-fried onion rings, these are cooked in a shallow pan with a smaller amount of oil. Be sure to check that the underside of each onion is nicely browned before you flip.


  • 2 large onions , peeled (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 6 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup beer
  • 2 large egg whites , lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Ketchup (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Cut onion crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and separate into rings. Use 16 of the largest rings; reserve remaining onion for another use.
  3. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through pepper) in a medium bowl. Stir in beer and egg white (batter will be thick).
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dip 5 onion rings in batter, letting excess drip off. Add onion rings to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Place onion rings on a jelly-roll pan. Repeat procedure of dipping onion rings in batter and cooking in remaining oil twice, ending with 6 rings.
  5. Coat onion rings with cooking spray.
  6. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes or until crisp.
  7. Serve rings with ketchup, if desired.

Reprinted with permission from Lighten Up, America by Allison Fishman Task, Oxmoor House, 2013