Kitchen Hacks

The Unfailing Way to Make Any Onion Last Forever

July 30, 2018

While I enjoy a nice, cathartic cry every now and then, onion tears are not that; they're painful. They sting and burn, and to make matters worse, you’re holding a sharp knife, so don’t you dare rub your eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’re slicing, dicing, or mincing, it all hurts.

No one wants to drag out time when chopping onions, which is why it pains me to tell you that you need to chop the whole dang onion. Seriously.


This dip wants all your onions

If you’re caramelizing a panful, frying up some rings, or trying out one of your other favorite onion-forward recipes, that makes sense. But even if you just need a handful to season your frittata, or add a snap to your salad, you should still power through. Because those of us who have thrown the unused onion half in the crisper drawer knows it’s just in purgatory before it moves to the trash.

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But you should cut the whole onion, use what you need, and freeze the rest.

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Top Comment:
“After literally wearing goggles and a face mask one day (which worked) I did a little more research and found refrigerating the onion BEFORE you slice congeals those juices and for the most part you can cut without tears! But I do like the freezing bit too. Thanks! ”
— Jodi D.
Comment

You don’t need to do anything special: Just dump the leftovers into a freezer-friendly bag, flatten it into a single layer, and squeeze every last molecule of air out of there. If you’re really concerned about your onions sticking together, you can freeze them for two hours or so on a shallow baking dish before storing them in a container. The raw onions will last 6 months or more in the freezer—just make sure to label and date them!

I first started freezing onions years ago when I over-estimated how quickly I could go through an extra-large bag of Vidalias. I complained to my mom how the sharp, sweet smell was perfuming my kitchen and living room, and she suggested slicing and saving them in the freezer. Since then, I've always had a stash on hand for stir-frys, soups, or chili.

Now, if you want to enjoy onions raw (like in a salad or guacamole), freezing is a no-go. Also, defrosted onions can get a little watery, so it’s best not to rely on them for caramelizing. They're better suited to recipes that are stewy, like braises or sauces, or recipes that require them to be processed, like veggie burgers.

Here, we’ve gathered six of our tear-free favorites.

Do you freeze your onions? What else do you keep in your ice box?

22 Comments

Claire L. August 18, 2018
Because I like to use our local produce all year round, in the fall I freeze sliced onions, shallots, leeks, celery, carrots, etc. They are perfect in soups and stews all winter and early spring.
 
Smaug August 6, 2018
I usually seek out relatively small onions that I can use up in one or two meals- never had any trouble keeping leftovers in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for a couple of days.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. August 6, 2018
Fair point—this is probably better for onions that are the size of a baby's head haha
 
Smaug August 6, 2018
Yeah, I did get a couple of those a while back- Trader Joe sells onions by the piece. I did indeed grow weary of them over time.
 
ustabahippie August 5, 2018
I freeze jalapeños whole since I don’t use a whole one in cooking for myself. They stay hot indefinitely.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. August 6, 2018
Oh, interesting! Seeds too?
 
Smaug August 6, 2018
Virtually any pepper freezes beautifully, and they thaw very fast- some sort of internal antifreeze I suppose. I usually clean them first but it's not necessary- if you plan to peel them, though, best to do that while they're fresh.
 
MG G. August 5, 2018
I do this with bell peppers. Wash, dry then put the whole pepper in the freezer. It’s so easy to cut off whatever you need for cooking. Never any mushy peppers in the fridge.
 
Jodi D. August 4, 2018
The juices that spray from an onion when cut are what irritates our eyes and noses. After literally wearing goggles and a face mask one day (which worked) I did a little more research and found refrigerating the onion BEFORE you slice congeals those juices and for the most part you can cut without tears! But I do like the freezing bit too. Thanks!
 
Natalia W. July 30, 2018
You could caramelize before you freeze too ;) https://food52.com/blog/19040-the-smartest-hands-off-get-ahead-activity-for-lazy-days-at-home
 
Author Comment
Katie M. July 31, 2018
Honestly, that's even better haha but sometimes I'm just lazy 🙃
 
Rebecca August 6, 2018
I use the Crock-Pot method to caramelize a big batch of onions when I have a large stretch of time to do it and then freeze them in small amounts.
 
Marilyn July 30, 2018
I have been dicing and freezing onions for several years now - just yesterday I just chopped up half a large yellow one languishing in my fridge. I have a special plastic container I leave in the freezer, next to similar ones for carrots and celery. Need a quick stock, or a mirepoix on a weeknight? No problem! Saves time, saves money, saves food waste - a kitchen hat trick if ever there was.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. July 30, 2018
I'm glad you agree :)
 
Nancy July 31, 2018
Katie - great idea! <br />I'm like Marilyn...have been doing this a long time, and prefer boxes to bags as I can scoop out what I need easier from boxes.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. July 31, 2018
Good to know! Do you use plastic, too?
 
Nancy July 31, 2018
Yes, plastic. If the boxes get too smelly & need them for something else, baking soda or dilute bleach will clean them up.
 
Sonnie July 30, 2018
Even better is to use a FoodSaver to remove all the air. And the thicker plastic of their bags is impermeable -- you'll never smell the onions until you reopen the bag.
 
Author Comment
Katie M. July 30, 2018
Yes, I've been meaning to get one... I just haven't thought of where I'd keep it in my tiny kitchen haha
 
Sonnie July 30, 2018
A FoodSaver is one of those things I'd find room for. I use mine every day. Usually multiple times a day!
 
Syl August 3, 2018
I don’t have room or budget for another appliance. I like the quart size baggies with a red closure tab. Insert flattened pepper slices or slivered onions and before zipping the red tab all the way across baggie, insert straw or finger and suck out air. ✌️
 
Author Comment
Katie M. August 6, 2018
Such a smart hack! Thanks for sharing :)