Wonderfully tender and surprisingly sweet, these are the best grilled onions for cookouts, BBQ, or just as an extraordinary side dish for weekday dinners.
Onions are probably one of the most versatile vegetables out there (alongside everyone’s favorite, the potato) and this grilled onions recipe makes great use of the onion – without any of the faff! The outside caramelizes while the inner rings still provide a bit of a crunch. Their smoky and slightly charred flavors are a great addition to a variety of dishes, from burgers to salads.
While a lot of grilled onion recipes will have you skewering, poking, or de-layering your onion, I’ve chosen the easiest option that still delivers on taste and texture. With their distinctive black grill marks and delicious taste, you won’t be grilling onions the same way anymore.
What Onion Is Best for Grilling
Onions have dozens of varieties – and some are better than others. The best onion for grilling will retain its shape and texture, cook well under heat, and deliver strong flavors. It’s best to go for sweeter varieties of white or yellow onion – they’re mild and sweet and tend to caramelize a little when cooked, perfect for the grill. Red onions are also great but will have a slightly stronger flavor than others.
I recommend picking onions that are medium to large in size. Every onion has its own distinctive taste and the grilling will help to bring some of that out – but the result you get will be different, depending on your onion selection. Some grocery stores also sell “sweet onions”, like Vidalia onions, which can work for this recipe, but I recommend just using whatever you have available to you.
For this recipe along with the onions, you’ll also need olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can experiment with fresh herbs and spices too – paprika, chili powder, fresh basil, cumin, or thyme all work well with onions and will complement their sweetness.
How to Grill Onions
Here is how to make grilled onions in a few easy steps.
First, heat your grill to a high heat.
Peel the onions, then cut them into ½ – ¾ inch thick slices (about 1.2-1.9cm). Brush both sides of the onion slice with the oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the slices directly on the grill grates and cook for 12-15 minutes, turning 1-2 times throughout so that the onions are soft and golden brown, but with distinctive, dark char marks.
You can also cook the onions in foil if you don’t want to put them directly onto the grill. Simply make a package using two pieces of aluminum foil. Crimp them together to seal. Follow the same cooking instructions, opening up the lid to flip them halfway.
How to Use Grilled Onions
Grilled onions make for an excellent side dish or can be used in other recipes.
- Serve them as part of a vegetable medley with grilled corn on the cob, grilled broccoli, or grilled romaine lettuce.
- Use as a topping or a side dish for burgers, steaks, and other proteins on the grill – they go great with sweet potato burgers, steak, hot dogs, or grilled chicken.
- Add them to other vegetable dishes for a boost of sweetness. They are great for counteracting bitterness or acidity in other vegetables, like grilled eggplant, sauteed snow peas, roasted radishes, and green beans.
- Incorporate into other dishes for an upgrade on the traditional onion base for recipes – try using them instead of raw onion in a green bean casserole, with Air Fryer cauliflower, a tomato and cucumber salad, homemade gnocchi or upgrade a classic by sprinkling them on top of some mozzarella, gouda or cheddar for an amazing grilled cheese sandwich.
- Cut them up and mix them into omelets and scrambled eggs, add to guacamole or on top of a slice of avocado toast in the morning – you can cut them into smaller pieces for this.
- Grilled onions, when chopped up, also make great toppings for tacos, burrito bowls, nachos, pasta salad, and salads that need a little flavor boost.
How to Store Grilled Onions
Grilled onions are best served fresh, but if you do have leftovers, they’re easily stored. You can keep them whole or cut them up into smaller, bite-sized pieces – these are easier to incorporate into other recipes. Allow the onions to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. They’ll keep for up to a week.
More Grilled Vegetable Recipes
If you try this grilled onions recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Easy Grilled Onions
- Heat your grill to a high heat.
- Peel the onions, then cut them into ½ – ¾ inch thick slices (about 1.2-1.9cm). Brush both sides of the onion slice with the oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place the slices directly on the grill grates and cook for 12-15 minutes, turning 1-2 times throughout so that the onions are soft and golden, but with distinctive, dark char marks.
- Alternatively, you can cook the onions in foil if you don’t want to put them directly onto the grill. Simply make a package using two pieces of aluminum foil. Crimp them together to seal. Follow the same cooking instructions, opening up the lid to flip them halfway.
How To Store
- These are best served fresh, but if you do have leftovers, allow them to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container. They’ll keep for up to a week in the fridge.