How to Freeze Onions for Quick Convenience

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Tired of chopping onions every time you cook? Freeze them instead! Learn how to freeze onions and cut down prep time in the kitchen. 

How to Freeze Onions – (the best way)

The first section is all about my opinion on the best way to freeze fresh onions. But as with most vegetables, there are lots of alternatives. After you read about how I do it, take a look at the other options below. There may be a reason you want to do it different.  

First I’ll say you can freeze any onion type.  Red onions, white onions, yellow onions it doesn’t matter what type of onion you have it can be frozen.  

Prepare the onions.

Cut off both the stem and root ends of your onions and peel off the papery outer skins down to the more fleshy layers.

That outer layer of onion peels can be used to make fantastic broth!  I have a freezer bag that I keep in my freezer for just these peels. I do not include the root ends as they are usually dirty.  When I have a bag full and some chicken or beef bones I’ll make broth.  

chop, slice or dice

Think about what sizes you usually use in your recipes. I like to keep two sizes in my freezer for ease of use in the kitchen and a third mixed bag option. These are all in freezer bags. If you are chopping a lot the onion smell can really get to you.  I’ve got more below on how to chop onions without tears. 

  • One bag has smaller chopped onions that I can take out and add to ground beef for chili or tacos or meatloaf or just about any meal. 
  • I also like to have a bag with sliced onions.  These are handy to have to add to the crockpot when you are making a roast. 
  • Third I love having a bag of mixed chopped onion and peppers.  We have eggs most mornings and I love onion and peppers in my eggs. 

Sometimes I’ll separate onions by type.  Red in one bag white in another.  Other times I just mix them all up.  

How to chop onions. 

This chopping and slicing can be done with a knife or with a food chopper.  If I’ve just got a couple onions a knife is fine for me. 

White cutting board with chopped white onions and a large knife.

But if I’ve got a lot of onion the food processor is the way to go!   Chop the onion into halves or quarters, put them in the food processor and pulse them until they are the size you like. Be careful with this, it can get shredded pretty quickly.  

Chopping onions in a food processor.

Do you have a French fry blade?  I love my French fry blade for chopping lots of different foods.  Onions too.  It makes nice slices a bit bigger than chopped.

Using the food processor helps reduce tears because it is all enclosed but be aware when you open it up to dump the onions… you’ll get a full sniff of onion juice!  

Freeze Whole Onions

You can also freeze onions whole but it is not recommended.  Almost always if you are using an onion, you’ll slice it in some way.  Frozen onions can’t be cut, and as they thaw they soften and will kind of mush up under your knife.

The exception would be small or pearl onions.  I can see using those whole.

You might want to toss a bunch in a roast or some other dish without slicing.  

To freeze small whole onions, slice off the stem and roots, peel the papery skin off and toss the whole peeled onion in a freezer bag.  Label and date.

Can you freeze green onions?

Yes, green onions can be frozen and do very well.  Simply peel off the papery outer skin, remove any damaged or browned leaves, and chop as desired.

For those who don’t know, most people use the entire green onion.  There is flavor in those stems.  Use the small bulb portion and all the way up the stems.

Chop up the entire thing.  You can also freeze green onions whole if you prefer. Personally I’d just chop them now rather than later. 

Two ways to package

Pack in Freezer Bags

Place chopped onions in freezer bags. Use either quart or Gallon size bags depending on how many you have. Don’t over pack the bag.  Just pack enough that you can lay the bag flat and spread the onions out into a thin layer.  

When you freeze the onions they will stick together.  If it is a thin layer you can easily break the onions apart.  

If you’ve frozen them in a thick clump…. It won’t be so easy.  You’ll have a big clump of onion and probably more than you need in a recipe. Banging the bag on the counter (or I’ve been know to use the floor) works… but it can be hard!

You want to be able to break them up and take out just what you need.

Freezing Chopped Onions on Trays then in Freezer Containers

You can also spread onions in a single layer on a baking sheet. A sheet of parchment paper or freezer paper is helpful but not required. Place the filled tray in the freezer.  When the onions are frozen, (about 1.5 to 2 hours) put in freezer bags.  

If you used the paper you can pick it up by the paper and slide the onions into the bag.  

Or if you just froze them on the tray directly, use a spatula to break them loose and put them in bags.  (aka turner, flipper, you know what I mean, the thing you flip pancakes with. Not a rubber one that you use to scrape the bowl…. sigh why is the english language so confusing!)

White cutting board with chopped red onions and a large knife, clear baking dish filled with chopped red onions in the background

Freeze In Ice Cube Trays

If you know you use a couple Tablespoons of diced onion at a time.You could fill an ice cube tray with onions, cover with plastic wrap, freeze.  

When the onions are frozen pop the onion cubes out and into freezer bags for storage.  

After freezing in whatever manner you choose, and putting them in freezer bags, squeeze as much air from the bags as possible and seal.  

Label and place freezer bags back in freezer.  Remember if you are not pre-freezing the onions on trays don’t over stuff your bags.

Freezer Container Options. 

Freezer bags are by far the best container in my opinion.  It is easier to get the air out of the bag.  It is convenient to open take out the amount you want and then reseal to go back in the freezer. 

Two quart freezer bags of chopped frozen onions, one with red onion, the other white onion.

You can also freeze in rigid plastic freezer containers. I like these inexpensive square containers… or these Ball Freezer Jars (they are plastic) for many things. 

You can also freeze in mason jars.  But I don’t recommend it.  They break and are inconvenient in the freezer.

How to chop onions without crying! 

Does anyone else hate chopping onions? ME!   I seriously dislike chopping and crying. So, if I’m chopping onions I like to do a bunch all at once. Get it all over with.

The issue is tears.  I could write about why onions make you cry but, I’m pretty sure that most of you already know it.  :). I’m not sure if my eyes are more sensitive but they always burn.

It’s the juice from dicing the onion that we smell and somehow get into our tear ducts.  It will burn and makes us cry.  

There are a couple ways to keep from tearing up when you chop onions.  Or at least reduce the burning and tears. 

  • Refrigerate your onions ahead of time.  Cold onions won’t make you cry as much.  
  • Use a sharp knife.  The sharper knife will slice cleaner and do less damage to the onion. 
  • Rinse your knife and hands often with cold water while chopping. The water rinses away the onion juices and helps reduce the affects.  (cold is key, hot water seems to make it worse!)
  • Use a food processor. When you are chopping a lot of onions, a food processor is fast.  Fast is always going to help because you are not exposed to the onion juices as long.  You can rinse the food processor between batches too if needed. 
  • Onion goggles!   I heard of wearing goggles but I’ve honestly never tried them.  I did a quick search and sure enough… there are actually goggles specifically made for chopping onions.  These are an inexpensive pair but there are multiple options.   You probably could do swimming goggles or other types of goggles. You just need something to protect your eyes.  

Why is freezing onions a good idea? 

Homemade Convenience Food

You can buy bags of frozen onion and peppers in the freezer section at the grocery store.  They call it ‘seasoning mix’.   It’s much cheaper to just chop it all up yourself and make your own convenience food.  

Like I said earlier, I hate the tears that come with chopping onion. Freezing chopped onions ahead of time makes it so I just pull it out of the freezer and use it.

Frozen onions will thaw out a bit softer than fresh.  They might not work for fresh green salads but will be recipe ready for things like soup, stew, casseroles, chili and my favorite… scrambled eggs in the morning.  

If you’ve got a lot of onions to work with this recipe for canning onions in a honey wine sauce is a sweet savory option!

Onion Storage

I grow onions in my garden so when I harvest I’ll have a lot all at once.  I don’t have good luck with storing onions.  I know you can hang them, I know you can root cellar them, but I don’t have a cool dark area to do it.  I’ll store them for awhile but when I notice that they are starting to get soft, or start growing new stems it is time to get them chopped and stored correctly.

Red and white onions just harvested from the garden, lying out drying on a counter.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you freeze cooked onions?

Yes, If you’ve got cooked or caramelized onions,  just put them in freezer containers and place them in the freezer.  They won’t be the same texture as freezing raw onions.  But they’ll still have a oniony flavor.

Do you have to blanch onions before you freeze them?

No, you don’t have to blanch them before you freeze them.  You can if you desire, but it does change the texture of the onion and is not needed.

How long will onions last in the freezer?

Onions will remain good in the freezer for 6-8 months.  After that the quality may start to diminish but don’t throw them away. They are still good. You’ll just want to get them used up.

Recipe Card

Freezing Onion

Freezing onions is a great way to preserve onions so that they are recipe ready.  Learn how to freeze onions so you can cut them all in one setting!  Don’t deal with the tears every time you need to add onions to your recipes. 
Print Recipe
Stainless steel bowl with small white and red onions cut in halves
Prep Time:30 minutes
Total Time:30 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • Onion(s)

Instructions

Freezing Onions 

  • Cut off stem and root ends of onions.
  • Peel off papery outer layer. 
  • Chop, slice or dice onions. 

Pack in Freezer Bags 

  • Place chopped onions in freezer bag.  Don’t over pack, so you can break the onions apart after frozen.
  • Label and date bags and place in freezer.  

Freeze on Trays 

  • Spread onions in a single layer on a cookie sheet or other baking tray. 
  • Place tray in freezer. 
  • When onions are frozen,(about 1.5 to 2 hours)  put in freezer bags.   
  • Squeeze air out of bags, seal.  Label and place freezer bags back in freezer.  

Notes

NOTES: 
Freezer bags are by far the best container. 
You can also freeze in rigid plastic freezer containers. 
You can freeze in mason jars.  But I don’t recommend it.  They break and are inconvenient in the freezer. 
Onions will remain good in the freezer for 6-8 months.  After that the quality may start to diminish.  

Freeze Your Onions and Save Time in the Kitchen

Tired of chopping onions every time you cook? Freeze them instead! How to freeze onions and cut down meal prep time in the kitchen.


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Freezing Onions: A Step-by-Step Guide

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raul
raul
4 months ago

ya needed more discussion about what they are like after freezing. I’ve had the worst luck freezing my veggies most of the problem is all because I can’t flash freeze the way a commercial packer can.
TEARS?? Take your cutting board over to the vent fan or open window and use a small fan, or just use a small fan and blow the fumes away from you.