How To: 7 Brilliant Food Hacks for Onions in the Kitchen & Beyond

7 Brilliant Food Hacks for Onions in the Kitchen & Beyond

Onions add essential flavor to almost any dish, whether it's a sauce, main dish, or salad. They are one of the humblest "superfoods," full of vitamins and nutrients but generally inexpensive, which is why they're also one of the most widely eaten ingredients in the world.

Here are some onion hacks that will elevate your dishes, improve your household, and make your life easier. I'll first go over a few ways to use onions for things besides eating, then I'll move onto a few tricks when cooking with onions.

1. Use an Onion to Clean & Season Your Grill

Instead of relying on chemical cleaners, clean off your grill with half of an onion. Turn the heat onto high and then rub down the grate with the onion. The moisture and natural antiseptic qualities of the onion give the grill a good cleaning. It also adds a nice flavor to the food you cook on it.

Image by allison/Flickr

2. Use Cut Onions to Get Rid of Odors

It might seem strange since onions themselves are usually thought of as smelly, but they can help clear up musty odors and bad smells by absorbing them. Get rid of odors and mustiness in basements and shoe closets by cutting an onion in half and leaving it there overnight. When the onion smell fades, you'll find that the other bad smells are also gone.

3. Use Onions When You're Congested or Inflamed

Quercetin, a chemical found in onions, have naturally anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties. Add more onions than usual to your homemade soup recipe and sip on the broth when you're feeling unwell. (You can also use onions as an all-natural, easy recipe for earaches and irritated skin.)

Image via Yumi Sakugawa

4. Store Cut Avocados with Onions for Less Browning

The worst thing about leftover avocado is the rapid way that they brown. It's an enzyme in avocado that causes the flesh to oxidize and brown quickly when exposed to air, which is why it's only the top layer (and not the stuff underneath) of a cut avocado or a bowl of guacamole that becomes a sickly brown color.

When you place an onion near a cut avocado, the sulfur gases that come from the onion (and make you tear as you cut them up) help stop the oxidation process. (You could also just use water to help keep guacamole from browning if you don't have an onion on hand.)

5. Make Eggs in Onions Rings

For perfectly round eggs, slice onion rings and use them for frying.

They make gorgeous sunny-side eggs with a nice, onion-y flavor. Get the full tutorial here.

Image by Donna/Apron Springs Blog

6. Use a Vegetable Peeler to Make Razor Thin Onion Slices

I love my mandoline slicer for thin, even slices, but sometimes you don't want or need to dirty up another gadget. When you just need a few slivered or shaved onions, use an onion peeler to create razor-thin red onions for salads or garnish.

7. Caramelize Onions in Half the Time

Caramelized onions add a sweet and savory flavor to dishes, but it takes long cooking to bring out their depth and sweetness. Here's a trick to caramelize onions faster with a pinch of baking soda.

Image via Shutterstock

Bonus Tip: Cut an Onion Without Shedding Tears

Everyone has their own method for avoiding tears while chopping onions, from freezing the onions beforehand to wearing swim goggles. This guide covers the most effective methods so that you can find one that works for you.

Image by Crystal Luxmore/Flickr

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Photos by Naomi Imatome-Yun/Food Hacks (unless otherwise specified)


We have to cut onions all the time at my work. It's rough for a while, but then you get used to it.

Love the fried egg idea, that would work so well in a breakfast muffin.

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