Grilled onions are the perfect complement to your favorite burger and can even stand alone as a side dish. These tasty textural components absorb the smoky essence of the grill on the inside while taking on a lovely char on the outside.
But grilling onions can be tricky. The layers often come apart; they’re prone to burning; and they can easily slip from your tongs through the grates, quickly incinerating in the flames.
Here are three ways to make sure that your grilled onions make it to the plate.
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1. Cut thick slices, wedges, or halves.
Option 1: Slice onions into thick, ½-inch rounds. This provides greater surface area and makes them easier to move around so that they don’t burn on the outside while staying raw on the inside.
Option 2: Slice onions into wedges and leave the root end intact. We used this method in our Grilled Panzanella Salad for beautifully cooked red onions with eye-catching char lines.
Option 3: Half the onions pole to pole, which is how we keep our Grilled Onions with Balsamic Vinaigrette intact (and control the charring).
2. Skewer them.
Thread sliced onions onto a metal skewer, taking care to thread the skewer through each onion layer. This is a great way to keep the onions intact for the cooking process. No skewers? Run two toothpicks through the center of the slices or wedges for similar results.
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3. Grip the onions, not the skewer.
Onions have a tendency to burn over high heat, and they need to cook for a long time. Grilling them often requires moving them around every few minutes to ensure that they don’t stick or burn in a hot spot.
When moving your onion skewers, grip a slice at or near the center rather than struggle with the skewer handle. You’ll have an easier time flipping with more surface area and run less risk of the slices sliding off the skewer and into the flames.