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Low Sodium French Fried Onions


Low Sodium French Fried Onions are a delicious homemade fried or baked onion, a much reduced sodium alternative to store-bought French fried onions.

While developing my upcoming low sodium green bean casserole, the last thing I came to was the French fried onion topping. You have to have French fried onions on top of green bean casserole, I am pretty sure it’s a law somewhere.

Easy right? Making them low sodium was easy, though cooking them was anything but. I ended up going through two bags of onions to find an acceptable baked version.

Frying them came out perfect the first time, air frying was an onion ash disaster every time and I gave up on it. But finally, oven baking took many tries but I seem to have found the secret time and heat combo.

One of my onion baked attempts with minimal oil multiple disasters
One of my onion baked with minimal oil multiple disasters
Baked French fried onions low sodium
Baked French fried onions low sodium

Now, either method of cooking won’t be as crunchy as if you were to plunge them inside a really hot oil deep fryer bath. But these have a perfectly good crispy onion taste for most of our needs.

Name brand sodium amount per serving60mg
Sodium per serving for this recipe5mg
Calories per serving62
2 Tbsp (7g) serving size

Sodium and fat in low sodium French fried onions compared

There is a significant sodium saving in these Low Sodium French Fried Onions compared to the name brand. This recipe has only 5mg compared to 60mg per 2 Tbsp (7g) serving. An easy 55mg of sodium savings per serving!

Fried French onions nutrition label
Fried French onions nutrition label

Also, by using olive oil and not frying thru to a total dry crispness, the saturated fat is only 0.7g compared to 1.5g of the name brand. I am unsure of what oil they use in the name brand, but olive oil is known to be one of the healthier oils around.

Since I really only ever use French fried onions on a green bean casserole a few times a year, I opted to use the fried recipe version. The nutrition label listed below is based on the fried version.  

When frying my particular onion that I based the nutrition label on, it was 7.5oz. peeled and sliced. The cooked fried onions weighed in at 6.6oz., which is just a bit more than the store large size container.

The baked version would have the same sodium content, but fat content would be really hard to gauge using an olive oil cooking spray. Although I would assume it would be somewhat less than fried.

Easy fried onions ingredients

Ingredients for low sodium French fried onions
Ingredients for low sodium French fried onions

Obviously Onions – For a casserole, just one medium to large onion is all you need, and even have extra leftovers. Thinly slice onions to 1/8” or a little less, from a peeled, cut in half onion. This will make the onion strings rather than onion rings.

Buttermilk – Since onions are acidic, soaking the onions in buttermilk takes a bit of the “chest burn” out. This is good because onions seem to be giving me more and more heartburn lately.

Buttermilk also adds additional moisture which helps the dry ingredients really adhere to the onions.

You could use regular milk or you can quickly make your own buttermilk substitute. Buttermilk is just not something I keep regularly in my fridge, since I really don’t use it that often.  It is super easy to make.  Just add 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup 2% milk and let sit while cutting the onions.  I like to use apple cider vinegar.

All-Purpose Flour – What can you say? It has just about zero everything except carbohydrates.

4C Salt Free Seasoned Crumbs – These are the perfect bread crumbs to use for this recipe. Not only are they salt-free but it is a ‘fine’ bread crumb, unlike a larger Panko style crumb they will stick better to the onion. I have not seen these in the local store yet so I purchased them through Amazon Seasoned Salt Free Bread Crumbs 4C. I don’t use breadcrumbs that often so I felt ok buying them online. And they’re really not bad, but you might like to jazz them up with some extra seasoning.

Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning – I noticed this came to my store about a year ago and have been using it all the time since. I love it because I used to use the regular version before the LOSO days. It is really a great mild spicy blend.

Mrs. Dash Original Table Blend Salt Free – Still another favorite spice blend that adds a little more taste.

Olive oil – The all-around healthiest oil, used either to fry in, or as a cooking spray when baking.

Some of the low sodium products I used
Some of the main low sodium products I used

How to make the best low sodium crispy onions

Frying the onions in oil is definitely the best way to make these. The baking methods are ok but not as good as frying. My air fryer results always turned out like ash, far less than appealing.

For oil frying – For the best results.

Mix the milk and vinegar in a medium container to make buttermilk and set aside while cutting the onions. Add sliced onions and mix into buttermilk and set aside for 15 minutes or longer. I’ve even done them overnight.

Mix the flour, bread crumbs and seasonings in a large Tupperware bowl. I prefer using a covered container instead of wasting a Ziploc bag and it’s easy enough to clean.

Strain the milk from the onions and place them in the Tupperware bowl with the flour and seasonings, cover the bowl and shake well until the onions are covered. 

Shake off any excess flour mix. I like to use a large screen (see photo below) as it seems to work very well at removing little bits and extra flour. You could use a large colander too.

Heat the olive oil on medium-high heat (375°F) or till just hot without smoking. I use a pan with a small cooking surface, I recommend an 8” cast iron skillet or I have also used my flat bottom Wok. This contains the oil but adds depth without having to use more oil. 

Fry a few at a time, until golden brown and crisp. For one onion I usually do about five (5) batches. The usual time till they start crisping up and I start removing them is just about a minute. I recommend using a metal skimmer for removal. All in all, it is a fast process.

Place the fried onions on a plate with paper towels.

Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Shake coating onto onions with covered bowl
Shake coating onto onions
Screening off extra flour coating
Screening off extra flour coating
Coated onion ready to bake
Coated onion ready to bake
Frying onions in oil
Frying onions in oil

To Bake

Follow the instructions for preparing the onions above.

Line a medium baking (cookie) sheet with parchment paper.

Place the coated onions in a single layer and spread out well on the baking sheet.

Spray well with olive oil spray.

Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes, turning and mixing, and lightly spraying again. Cook for another 15 minutes watching carefully after 10 minutes until crispy outside. The secret I learned was to remove the onions and let the oven cool to no more than 200°F. Then bake for another 15 minutes, keeping an eye on them. This helps remove any excess moisture without burning for a crispier result.

Frequently Asked Questions

Serve fried onions with:

These fried onions go great on top of salads or a baked potato. But, of course, almost any casserole dish like my easy classic Low Sodium Green Bean Casserole Recipe. (Coming Soon!)

How to store fried onions

Because these still retain some moisture it is best to store the fried onions in an air-tight container with a paper towel and place them in the fridge. They are generally too moist to keep out or in the pantry like the name brand since they’re not fried all the way through and dried.
Mine have been still relatively crispy after two or three days but I think about 4 days would be the maximum.
If needed to crisp up, place in a 300°F oven for about 5 minutes. You can also reheat them in the microwave on a paper towel for 15 seconds, though they won’t be as crispy as an oven reheat.

If your baked onions came out “floury”.

You need to coat these well when spraying with olive oil on the flour coated onions when baking. Otherwise, it is just a baked-on, dried-out flour mix coating. Bleh!
Baked onion rings with olive oil spray still floury

Can I make fried onions in advance and stay crispy?

Yes. Mine have stayed crispy for three days in the fridge. Just store in an airtight container with a paper towel in the bottom and place in the fridge. If you’re using it on a casserole or such, no reheating is necessary. When they won’t be warmed up, like if used on a salad, a few minutes in the oven at 250°F will crisp them right up.

Low Sodium French Fried Onions Pin
Low Sodium French Fried Onions Pin

A few of my other great dishes to enjoy!


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Low Sodium French Fried Onions

Low Sodium French Fried Onions

Author: Bill
Low Sodium French Fried Onions – baked or fried versions are crispy with lots of onion flavor and seasonings. Perfect for low sodium green bean casserole!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Condiment, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 26 2 Tbsp (7g)
Calories 62 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large yellow or white onion cut in half and sliced 1/8” thick
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cups flour all-purpose
  • 1/2 cup 4C seasoned salt free bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning No Salt
  • 2 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Original Table Blend seasoning no salt
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil for frying
  • Oil spray if you are baking

Instructions
 

For oil frying – (Makes the best results. Trust me this whole process goes very quickly.)

  • Mix the milk and vinegar in medium container to make buttermilk, set aside while cutting onions. Add sliced onions and mix into buttermilk and set aside for 15 minutes or longer. I've even done them overnight.
  • Meanwhile, mix flour, bread crumbs and seasonings in a large Tupperware bowl with tight cover.
  • Drain the onions and place in the Tupperware bowl with the flour and seasonings, cover the bowl and shake until onions are well coated.
  • Shake off any excess flour. I like to use a large screen (see photo) as it seems to work very well at removing little bits and extra flour. You could use a large colander too.
  • Heat the olive oil on medium high heat (375°F) or till just hot without smoking. Use a small cooking surface pan, I recommend an 8” cast iron skillet or I have also used my flat bottom Wok. This contains the oil but adds depth without having to use more oil.
  • Fry a few at a time, until golden brown and crisp. For one onion I usually do about five (5) batches. The usual time till they start crisping up and I start removing is just about a minute. I recommend using a metal skimmer. All in all it is a fast process.
  • Place fried onions on a plate with lined paper towels.
  • Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge.

To Bake onions

  • Follow instructions for preparing the onions above.
  • Line a medium baking (cookie) sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place the coated onions in a single layer, spread out well on the baking sheet.
  • Spray well with olive oil cooking spray.
  • Bake at 375°F for 15 minutes then turn and mix and lightly spraying again. Cook for another 15 minutes watch carefully after 10 minutes until crispy outside. Remove onions from oven and let oven cool to no more than 200°F. Bake for another 15 minutes, again keeping an eye on them. This helps remove any excess moisture without burning.

Notes

The trick is to slice the onions consistently thin so the moisture in the onion will cook out evenly helping to make them crisp.
If you don’t have buttermilk you can use regular milk.

Nutrition

Serving: 262Tbsp(7g)Calories: 62kcalCarbohydrates: 5.5gProtein: 1.1gFat: 4.2gSaturated Fat: 0.7gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 5mgPotassium: 19mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 0.8g
Did you make this recipe?Leave a rating and let me know how it was!

Nutrition InformationThe information shown is provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be substituted for a doctors or nutritionist’s advice. Please understand that not everyone’s sodium requirements are the same, therefore some recipes may be higher than you’re allowed. Always consult with your doctor for your recommended daily sodium allowance.

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