Grilled onions are full of luxurious taste and flavor. They are quick and easy to make, and their high vitamin C and nutritional content make them healthy to eat as well.
One of the main bonuses from a preparation point of view is that this recipe contains very few ingredients. All four of those ingredients are easy to come by, and as always there are always alternatives to experiment with in order to give your grilled onions dish that extra flavor.
We recommend using a cast iron griddle for grilling onions. Cast-iron provides a good distribution of heat, and is also resistant to corrosion, so it can really handle whatever you cook in it.
You can also use a grill (as the name suggests) to create grilled onions. You may be asking - what is the difference between the two? And what is the best way to cook grilled onions? Find the answer to that and other frequently asked queries below.
The Perfect Grilled Onions
- 2 sweet onions
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- Fresh ground pepper
- Hold one of your onions, with the root end pointing sideways, over a cutting board.
- Push a skewer through the center part of the onion. It is best to position it around 3/4 of an inch away from the root of the onion. The flat end of the skewer should be positioned next to the onion, within its circumference.
- Slice the root end off the onion on one side. On the other side of the skewer, slice the onion so that the skewer goes through the center of the slice.
- There should be a section of the skewer that is sticking out away from the onion. Cut this using a knife.
- Do the same for the remainder of the onion, until both onions are sliced evenly. You should again be aiming for each slice to be around 3/4 of an inch in size.
- Ensure there are no skewer parts sticking out of the onion by trimming them.
- Using olive oil, carefully brush both sides of each slice. You can then season with both the salt and the pepper.
Using a Grill
- Heat the grill for between 5-10 min.
- Set the burners on the grill to low and place the onion on the grill. Cook the onions on the low burner and flip over every 10 min until they are golden brown.
- You should stop when the onions are both golden brown and tender, which typically takes 25-40 min.
Using a Griddle
- Heat the grill for between 5-10 min.
- You then need to brush some olive oil onto the onion itself, before allowing placing it on the griddle.
- Cook the onions and flip every 10 min until they turn golden brown. Be sure to oil the uncooked side of the onion before flipping.
Grilled onions FAQs
Should I use a grill or a griddle?
This is a question you have most likely been asking yourself throughout this recipe so far. The two names may sound similar, and they do perform similar functions, but there are also differences between the two.
- A griddle tends to be flat, whereas a grill has ridges. The ridges on a grill allow juices and oils to fall between the gaps on the grill plate, whereas a griddle's metal surface heats from below, allowing the food to essentially cook in its own juices, or in any oil that is on top of the griddle.
- Griddles have an optimum heat of 350°F, whereas grills hit a slightly higher temperature of 400 °F.
- Grills cook food quicker than griddles because it sears it at a higher temperature. Griddles bake food more slowly and at a lower temperature.
- Griddles are traditionally utilized inside, whereas grills are used outside. Grills give food more of a BBQ/smoky flavor than griddles would do.
Overall, both are viable options when grilling onions.
If you are cooking outside with your household as part of a BBQ, we would recommend using a grill. If you have more time on your hands and are cooking inside, a griddle would be better.
You can cook healthy food with a griddle, provided you don't use too much oil (in this grilled onions recipe, we recommend using a small amount of olive oil).
Grilling food will help to remove excess fat, as it drips down the raised ridges. With a griddle, it can end up baking the food itself, as the heat source of the griddle causes dry heat.
How can I caramelize onions?
Instead of simply grilling the onions, you may want to go one step further and caramelized your onions.
Caramelization is the process of browning sugar, therefore making your food more sweet and sticky. It requires more time, as the onions need to be cooked slowly, which means that using a grill is less suitable given the high temperatures it operates at.
While our grilled onions recipe recommends using sweet onions to reach that perfect taste and flavor, you can use a range of different onions for this recipe.
To caramelize onions, you need to:
- Cut off the stem and the root end, before halving it and cutting into thin, even slices.
- Using a nonstick pan or skillet on medium heat, place three to four tablespoons of butter and/or olive oil.
- Add the onions - a seasoning like salt can also be added.
- The onions will now cook slowly. Make sure to stir the pan at regular intervals and turn the onions over, so that they reach a shade of golden brown on both sides. You may need to deglaze the pan at a later point by adding a small amount of balsamic vinegar.
- Stir the onions until they reach the optimal shade of golden brown.
How can grilled onions be used as a side dish?
Grilled onions can be used as a side serving for a variety of different and popular dishes to create a perfect meal. You could place them on a sandwich or burger, serve alongside different meats, like beef or chicken, or even on top of mashed potatoes.
You could also slice the onions in thinner strips and create soup. French onion soup is a popular dish that can be served with grilled onions.
They can also be used in stir-fries or pizza toppings - caramelized onions are perhaps better suited to pizza toppings due to their enhanced taste and flavor but both types work exceptionally well.
How to cut onions for grilling?
Although we have given instructions for basic cuts of onions in our recipe above, and covered how to grill onions, completing a perfect cut can be quite challenging, especially for those who haven't had a lot of practice cutting onions.
There are different ways to cut onions.
You need to lay your onion down widthwise, before using a knife to cut it from the top - with the stem end down - towards the root. You must then ensure that you do not cut away the root end, before cutting the stem end, and remove any papery skin (if your onion has it) away from the remainder of the onion that is left.
Then, lay one half of the onion down before cutting into thin slices. You can do this either widthwise or lengthwise, but we recommend lengthwise as it is easiest. The ideal size is between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch per slice.
Repeat this process for the other half of the onion.
How to grill onions in an oven?
Grilling onions in an oven is essentially another way to caramelize them.
One way is to use the broiler setting on your oven - this requires the onions to be wrapped in foil beforehand and placed on the top shelf of your oven.
On a broil setting, the oven turns on its top burner and keeps it on. Not all ovens have a broiler setting take a look at your oven's instruction manual for further details.
How long can you keep grilled onions for?
Grilled onions will last for between 3-5 days in a refrigerator.
You need to be careful not to leave cooked onions at room temperature for too long - they need to be thrown out if they stay out for more than 2 hours.
Grilled onions are a delightful dish that can be enjoyed all year round, and with the option of caramelizing them, there are a number of possibilities to add even more taste and flavor!
Now that you have the perfect grill onions down, check out this post about what you can cook on a griddle so that you can really wow your friends and family at the next BBQ!
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