I love having a stash of pre-chopped veggies hanging out in the freezer for easy meal prep! And one of the most versatile ingredients you can have ready to go are perfectly chopped raw onions. Just grab a handful to start off all your favorite savory recipes. No peeling, no chopping, and most importantly—no tears!
Freezing onions is also a great way to preserve onions that might go bad otherwise. While onions generally store pretty well, some varieties (like sweet onions) go off pretty quickly, and freezing is a quick way to preserve a windfall of onions that’ll otherwise be left to go bad.
We’re going to show you our favorite method for freezing onions, and—trust me—you’ll be revolutionized the first time you want to cook dinner and you realize you don’t have to chop an onion. It’s such a time-saver having it all done for you! Let’s get freezing.
Why should I freeze onions?
I have two main reasons why freezing onions is a kitchen win:
- Freezing onions is a great way to preserve onions.
- It’s a HUGE time saver! Having a stash of diced onions in the freezer (or slices!) is super convenient. It makes mealtimes go so much faster.
What are the best onions to freeze?
Any onions work frozen! Yellow onions, white onions, red onions, heck, even green onions can be frozen using the same method we outline below. Generally, we tend to freeze sweet white onions the most frequently in our kitchen, just because they go bad quickly because of their high-sugar content.
Can I freeze whole onions?
You can, but mostly we just found it a pain in our testing—you have to thaw your onion before you can do anything with it, which removes a lot of the convenience aspect!
The one exception: small (AKA “pearl”) onions. We loved peeling these tiny onions and freezing them whole for adding to pot roast and beef stew.
Will my freezer smell like onions?
No worries! The onion odor is under lock-and-key in a thick freezer-safe zip-top food storage bag or other airtight food storage container. No stinky freezer!
Do onions lose nutritional value when frozen?
Nope! Freezing fruits and vegetables at their peak actually preserves their nutrients. Frozen onions will have the same vitamins and minerals as fresh onions!
How should I store frozen onions?
Here are my four favorite containers for stashing frozen veggies:
- Glass Food Storage Containers—These take up a fair amount of space, but I like that they are reusable, glass, and stack nicely with each other. A small caveat: sometimes the plastic lids of these containers take on the smell and flavor of frozen onions, so proceed with caution!
- Glass Canning Jars—Thanks to all my canning, we always have plenty of jars on hand, so some of them get used for freezing! If you go this route, make sure to choose jars with straight sides, because they are safest for freezing.
- Zip-top Freezer Bags—If you aren’t opposed to single-use plastics, zip-top freezer bags are affordable and easy to find at most grocery stores. Reminder: these aren’t the same as thin sandwich bags, which won’t protect your produce from freezer burn.
- Vacuum Sealing Bags—I love our vacuum sealer, but I don’t typically use it for storing frozen onions. Once you’ve opened a vacuum-sealed packet, you either have to use all of the onions or find a way to close up the pack. Since we typically use a little bit of onion at a time, the vacuum sealer doesn’t make as much sense here.
How to freeze onions:
Freezing onions is as simple as chopping onions—literally!
- Peel and then cut onions. You can dice, chop, or slice your onion—we like to have all three in our freezer for easy meals.
- Spread the onions out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Pop in the freezer and flash freeze until frozen solid. This shouldn’t take more than 2-3 hours, which isn’t long enough for the onion smell to permeate your freezer. But if you’re worried, you can cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap.
- Once frozen solid, transfer the frozen onions to your preferred airtight storage container. We like to portion out the onions into zip-top freezer bags and keep a quart bag in our kitchen freezer at all times.
The very best way to make quick work of dicing onions is with a good quality vegetable chopper. I can dice 10 pounds worth of onions in about 15 minutes with my handy chopper, and no tears shed! You can also use a food processor, but the pieces tend to come out less even.
Do you need to blanch onions for freezing?
Nope! Onions freeze great raw.
How long will frozen onions last?
In general, you’ll want to use your frozen onions within 8-12 months. But just as long as they look good (no freezer burn), taste good (no freezer burn), and smell good (no freezer burn), you can get away with using them past that time.
Make sure to remove as much air as possible when packing your onions in their storage containers to prevent freezer burn.
How do you use frozen onions?
You can use frozen onions in the exact same way you’d use raw onions when cooking. They do lose their shape and texture slightly—but they work perfectly in casseroles, stir-fry, stews, soups, salads, salsas, and other dishes. They also work great for making caramelized onions (which you can also freeze, too—we recommend freezing in ice cube trays).
Make sure to freeze some onion slices with some strips of bell peppers for quick and easy fajitas!