Grilling Onions

Onion Preparation | Grilling Onions | Onion Tips

Onion Preparation

Peeling | Cutting | Reduce Harshness

To get the best quality out of your onions, they should be cut just before you are going to use them. If you need to slice ahead of time, they can be sliced and stored in water in a sealed container for 3 to 4 hours in the refrigerator and still retain their freshness. The preparation methods below will show you how to peel and cut the onions to be grilled as quarters and slices.

Peeling Onions

Peel Whole Onion

Trim off the stem end of the onion.

Remove the dry, papery outer skin if it is lose and coming off. Otherwise, it can remain on the onion and be removed when the first layer is peeled off. To remove the first layer, make a very shallow cut down the side of the onion through the first layer only. If cut too deep it will go through some of the other layers and cause slices to split when cutting whole round slices.
Leave root end on the onion to help hold sections together. Start peeling the first layer of the onion where the slit was made down the side of the onion. Continue to peel until the first layer has been removed.

Peel Onion Halves


Cut the onion in half lengthwise from stem end to root end. Trim off the stem end only if cutting slices. If cutting into quarters, trim off the stem and root ends.

Peel off the dry, papery outer skin and also the next layer if it is damaged or beginning to shrivel. The onion half is then ready to be quartered or sliced.


Cutting Onions

Cutting into Round Slices

Peel whole onion as shown above. Cut the onion crosswise to produce slices. Cut to desired thickness. Be sure to keep fingertips away from the knife while cutting slices.

Cutting into Quarters


Cut the onions in half lengthwise. Peel half onion as shown above. Place onion half cut side down and cut lengthwise again to create onion quarters.


Reduce Harshness

Reduce Harshness of Strong Onions

The harshness of a strong onion can be reduced if desired. Prepare onions by slicing or chopping and then place in a bowl of ice water. Soak the onions in ice water for 60 to 90 minutes. Change the water 2 or 3 times during this time period.

If you need to speed this process up, place onions in a strainer and rinse under cold running water for at least one minute.
Drain the onions and pat dry with paper towels before using.

Onion Cooking

Grilling Quartered Onions | Grilling Onion Slices

Onions are grilled both to be eaten on their own or added to other dishes. They make a great addition to grilled sandwiches. Shown below are a couple of methods for grilling onions.

    Grilling Quartered Onions

    Peel and quarter onions as shown in Onion Prepartion. Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before placing onions on them.
    Remove the small center section of each quartered onion using the tip of a knife. This will make it easier to place the quarters on the skewers. The small center core pieces will generally fall off when trying to place the onions on the skewers if left on the quarters.

    Use two skewers for each quartered onion. Using two skewers will prevent the onion sections from turning on the skewers when grilling.

    Place onion slices on water soaked bamboo skewers by carefully threading a skewer through each end of the onion, being careful to catch all layers with each skewer.

    Coat the onions on both sides with a mixture of 1/2 oil and 1/2 melted butter.
    Place the quartered onions over indirect medium heat. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes.
    Using tongs, grab hold of the skewers and turn the onions every 5 minutes. The onions will continue to brown with each turn.
    Cook until onions are tender-crisp and lightly charred. Remove from the grill and serve immediately. If the outer layer is badly charred, remove it before serving.

    Grilling Onion Slices

    Peel two medium size whole onions as shown in Onion Prepartion. Slice into 1/4 inch thick slices and separate into rings.
    Make two trays from aluminum foil. Use double layers of foil and turn up at least 1 inch on all sides. Seal the turned up sides in each corner by folding corners and squeezing together tightly. Place half of the sliced onion rings in each tray so they are evenly distributed.
    Add approximately 1 tablespoon of margarine to each tray. Cut each tablespoon of margarine into quarters to distribute evenly throughout the tray of onion rings.
    Place the foil trays containing the slices over direct medium heat. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes.
    After the first 10 minutes, turn the slices using a tongs. Be careful when turning that the foil does not get punctured. This would allow the margarine to run out of the foil trays. Do not use a fork for turning because there would be more of a chance of puncturing the foil.
    Continue to turn the onion slices about every 5 minutes.
    When slices are nicely browned, remove the foil trays from the grill and serve the onion slices immediately while still warm.

    For more information on onions, see All About Onions.

    Onion Tips

    • For information on how to prevent eye irratation when working with onions, see Tearing Tips.
    • If using only half an onion, use the top half and store the root end. The root end will stay fresh for a longer period of time.
    • To remove the onion odor from your hands, rub a piece of lemon in salt and then squeeze the juice on your hands, rub the juice in, and then rinse it off.
    • To reduce the onion smell in the kitchen, combine 3 to 4 cups of water, a cup of vinegar, and a teaspoon of cloves in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
    • Breath freshening tips:
      • Eat one or two sprigs of parsley, which is a natural breath freshener.
      • Rinse your mouth with a mixture of one part lemon juice and one part water.
      • Chew on the peel of an orange or lemon.
      • Try eating an apple.
      • Chew on coffee beans, a vanilla bean, or fennel seed.

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