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How To Freeze Onions: A Handy Guide for Long-Term Storage

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Whether you are new to meal prep or are just looking for ways to save some time while cooking, freezing onions can be a game-changer!

Onions are a staple in many recipes and having them readily available in your freezer will save you so much time and effort when preparing meals. A big bag of onions from Costco will set you back between $5-$10 and will last for months at a time.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the steps of freezing onions properly, including tips and tricks on how to prep and store them. Let’s also talk about the benefits of freezing onions and how to use them in everyday recipes. Grab a knife and let’s get started!

How to Freeze Onions:

The easiest way to freeze onions is to dice the onion and put it in a freezer bag. Squeeze out all the air and place in the freezer. When you are ready to use the onions, treat them as fresh onions. There is no need to defrost them before cooking. They will defrost quickly once heated.

I have seen suggestions to place the chopped onions on a sheet pan before placing in the freezer. This is intended to keep the onion pieces from sticking together. This really isn’t necessary. Onions don’t have much moisture in them so even if they stick together when frozen, it is easy to break off what you need.

Why Should I Freeze Onions?

Once you get used to having a bag of frozen onions, you won’t know how you lived without it! Cooking on weeknights will be so much faster when you don’t have to pull out your knife and start chopping. As a bonus, you’ll also limit food waste by freezing the onions before they go bad.

top view of a pot with chili showing beans, corn and tomatoes

Freezing onions does not change the taste and once defrosted, they can be sauteed the same way as fresh onions.

Here are just a few dishes that are delicious with frozen white or yellow onions:

  • Chili – Frozen onions can be used in this Instant Pot Pumpkin Chili recipe
  • Stew
  • Burgers – Sauteed onions are delicious on Smash Burgers too!
  • Meatloaf
  • Pot Roast
  • Casseroles
  • Stir fries or mixed with other veggies
  • Mirepoix – An equal amount of onions, celery and carrots
  • Most slow cooker dishes

Green onions can also be frozen, though they will be soft when defrosted. Because they will be soft, it’s best to cook the green onions into a dish or use them in a dressing as opposed to using them fresh to garnish a dish.

Is it better to freeze onions raw or cooked?

Onions do not need to be cooked before freezing. Unless they will be turned into caramelized onions or melted into another dish, the best way to freeze onions is raw.

Raw frozen onions will hold their shape well and won’t melt into a dish when they are reheated.

How to Freeze Onions:

There are a few simple steps to freezing onions, but don’t let the number of steps intimidate you. It is really easy to do and is a great way to keep those onions from going to waste!

Step 1: Chop the Onions

Depending on how many onions you have, this may take some dedication. So turn on some music and grab a helper to start peeling the onions while you chop. If you get tired, it is okay to do it in batches.

There are several ways you can chop the onions, pick the one that works best for you:

1) Sharp Knife – Grab your knife and start chopping the onions into your preferred size. I like to cut the onions into a small dice because I find it more versatile. However, slices (for stews) or rings might make more sense to you.

2) Food Processor – Use the pulse option on your food processor and tread carefully. The trick is to chop it just enough to have smaller pieces, but not so much that it pulverizes the onion or turns it into a paste.

3) Food Chopper – As a prior chef, this one pains me to recommend but I can’t deny that this tool is kind of awesome! If you aren’t comfortable with a knife or just want an excuse to buy a new kitchen gadget, this option is for you!

Step 2: Freeze the Onions

There are two schools of thought on this one.

1) The proper way to freeze onions is to lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet or sheet pan. Then place them in the freezer until frozen. This will prevent the onion pieces from sticking together once frozen.

As an alternative, scoops of chopped onions can be placed in to ice cube trays and frozen in to preportioned sizes.

2) If you are lazy (ahem, efficient) like me, skip this step. Onions don’t have a ton of extra moisture and even though they will stick together if you freeze them while fresh, it is easy enough to break off a chunk of chopped onions.

TIP: If you skip step #1, a good idea is to put the chopped onions into smaller bags. Then when it’s time to use them, the entire bag can be used.

side view of chopped green onions in a clear container

Step 3: Store the onions

Frozen onions need to be stored in an airtight container. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Store them in your favorite freezer-safe container. Here are a few options:

1) Glass Mason Jars – These are my go to. They take up vertical space, so they can be stored in the freezer door if you have an upright freezer. Use a mason jar air sealer for an airtight seal. The only downside is that you have to reseal the jar each time you open it.

2) Zip top freezer bag – Stasher bags are amazing for storing onions in the freezer. They allow you to squeeze out as much air as possible and then seal tight to prevent freezer burn. Since the onions are frozen, the odor from the raw onion doesn’t tend to stick to the bag. Plastic freezer bags will also work.

3) Glass freezer containers – This is my last option because there isn’t a way to get the air out of the container and it takes up a lot of freezer space. If you will be using the frozen onions quickly, this would be another option.

Step 4: Use the onions

When it’s time to use the onions, take them out of the freezer and put them directly into your dish. There is no need to defrost them before cooking. They will defrost quickly once they touch the heat.

Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Onions

How long will frozen onions last?

They will retain their flavor for 3-6 months. Once you start freezing onions for future use, I doubt they will last longer than 6 months.

What are the best onions to freeze?

All onions can be frozen but yellow onions tend to hold up best. Although they can be frozen, I wouldn’t recommend freezing red onions since they become soft and lose a lot of flavor when defrosted.

Can you use frozen onions when cooking tomato sauce?

Absolutely. That would be a great way to use up a large number of frozen onions if they are approaching the 6-month mark of being in the freezer.

Can I freeze a whole onion?

Unless you have a use for a whole onion, it is highly recommended that the onion be chopped first. Once the onion is frozen and defrosted, it will be very difficult to cut.

Are frozen onions as good as fresh?

Overall, frozen onions are the same as fresh. But there is a big difference in texture. It’s important to note that frozen onions should be used for cooking or mixed with other veggies and should not be used in raw dishes or they’ll turn to mush!

By on July 9th, 2017

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