Whole roasted onions are surprisingly tender, mellow, sweet, and darn near almost effortless. Here’s how to make them, including exactly how long to roast the onions.
Plonk onions on a baking sheet without bothering to peel them. Shove in the oven. Come back later for achingly sweet, tender, mellow oniony goodness. Accept accolades. See how easy that was?! Though whole roasted onions can’t quite compete with their caramelized cousins in terms of sweetness, these roasted onions definitely surpass caramelized onions in terms of easiness. And they’re every bit as versatile. [Editor’s Note: Some may scoff at the notion of calling this clever little tactic or technique a recipe. We’re aware of this. We consider it a wonderful reminder of just how simple it can be to coax onions to superlativeness.]–Renee Schettler
HOW TO USE WHOLE ROASTED ONIONS
We fancy these whole roasted onions just as-is. You can also gussy them up with all sorts of goodness when they come out of the oven, if you please, with all manner of deliciousness.
A blob of butter.
A dollop of crème fraîche.
A drizzle of olive oil.
A dribble of balsamic or sherry vinegar.
A crumbling of blue cheese.
A sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.
A lot of black pepper.
A dash of hot sauce.
A blob of butter, a crumbling of blue cheese, and a dollop of crème fraîche.
You get the idea. Or you can chop them and add them to all manner of other dishes to bring their spectacular loveliness to other ingredients.
Whole grain side dishes
Pan sauces or gravy
Whole Roasted Onions
- Onions* as many as you please, unpeeled
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218°C).
- Plonk as few or as many unpeeled whole onions as desired on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Roast until the papery onion skins are deep golden brown and blistered and the inner layers of onion seem yielding and tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, an hour or longer, depending on the size.
- To serve, use a knife to slice across the top of each orb, discarding the top or tossing it in the compost. Serve with a sprinkling of salt. Diners can unpeel the onion on their own, casting the papery onion skins to the side.
*What kind of onions can I roast?The beauty of this recipe is that you can use anything you have on hand. Keep in mind that you’ll get different results, though, based on what you use. Sweeter onions will caramelize better, while a red onion will retain a bit more firmness and a flavor that goes beautifully with a little balsamic drizzle. Try whatever you’ve got and see which ones you like best. Remember that shallots and those tiny pearl onions are awesome candidates, too.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Simplicity at its finest! I opted to roast these whole onions on my outdoor gas grill. I heated the entire grill with all four burners blazing, then turned two of them off, and the other two down to low. This kept the temperature at a steady 450°F. I placed the unpeeled onions directly on the side with no flame and grilled for just over an hour until they were soft to the touch.
After cooling a bit, I sliced them up, sprinkled them with salt, and ate the onions right on the spot. I couldn’t believe how sweet and tender these were. I chopped up what leftovers I had with grilled broccoli and grilled tomatoes, tossed with prepared couscous, lemon juice, olive oil, feta, and salt and pepper. This is what I like to call a “bounty salad”—essentially anything that’s leftover from the farmers market, grilled and chopped into a salad. These were the perfect addition to the mix and will be a perfect addition to any burger, taco, burrito, sandwich, light snack—well, you get the point.
This whole roasted onions recipe is so simple, it’s sinful. Just plop a bunch of whole onions on a baking sheet for an hour, and there you have it. Perfectly creamy, delicious, steaming onions ready to be eaten alongside whatever else was in the oven or on the grill. Perfect with just some butter, salt, and lots of black pepper.
This was such a wonderful recipe—what a thrill to put an onion in the oven by itself and let it roast. I used red and yellow onions just to test the difference. They both turned out wonderful and caramelized.
The cooking times were right on. After they were ready, I drizzled them with olive oil, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of thyme. This recipe really makes you feel Italian. Loved it!
When I first saw this whole roasted onions recipe, my initial reaction was, “this needs to be a recipe?” I skipped right over it. After thinking about it again, I decided that maybe I was missing out on something so obviously good. That hunch was correct.
This recipe really strikes a trifecta of cooking goodness—easy enough to do, makes the house smell good, and tastes amazing. Don’t limit yourself to adding just one of the toppings Reusing suggests. I stuffed one onion with crème fraîche, blue cheese, and butter. Heaven.
I’ll admit, I cry, cry, cry when I cut onions—big time, to the point where I try to avoid them whenever possible. So when I see a recipe that involves absolutely no chopping of onions, I’m ecstatic! This whole roasted onions recipe couldn’t have been easier, and it filled my kitchen with delightful aromas.
I didn’t have the patience to chop the roasted onions and add them to a proper dish so instead, I just stood over my cutting board slicing off pieces and drizzling them with balsamic vinegar and sea salt. I also slathered some with honey butter. Definitely hit the spot.
I followed the recipe exactly, and although the skins didn’t blister, I don’t think that’s an issue. I topped the onions with some excellent balsamic and a bit of blue cheese. They were divine!
This is such a simple way to prepare onions, but you end up with soft, sweet ones that just slip out of their skins. Obviously, small onions will take less than an hour, but mine took a good hour to soften all the way through. I sliced a bit off the bottom (so they’d sit flat), then sliced off the tops.
I used a bit of butter and let it melt through the layers, then sprinkled on some salt. The onions don’t get caramelized edges like roasted chunks of onions do, but the texture is very velvety. I could see olive oil and vinegar being a nice touch, too.
This recipe gives you a lot of bang for the amount of work required. I roasted the onions for 1 hour and 10 minutes. After I pulled them out of the oven, I sliced off their tops and added a pat of butter to each. I let them cool slightly before peeling and quartering.
I drizzled on a little bit of balsamic vinegar and sprinkled them with freshly ground black pepper. It made for a very nice side dish. I could see using them on pizza.
These onions are so simple to prepare and absolutely delicious! I used Vidalia onions. They made their own sweet syrup as they baked. Salt is definitely needed at the table since there’s no way to add seasoning during the baking process. I sprinkled them with salt and drizzled them with a little olive oil (a nice-tasting finishing oil).
These onions could be a side dish with anything—beef, fish, pork, poultry, etc. One suggestion is to slice off a thin part of the root end before baking to help the onion sit flat in the pan.
This was a delicious “salad.” It took about an hour since my onions weren’t very large. After baking, I let them cool for a while and then cut them into quarters. I placed them on a plate and added olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, and some fresh, curly parsley leaves. It was excellent—it looked nice, and was very tasty with grilled chicken and other sides for dinner.
Originally published June 12, 2011