Onions are an integral part of any cuisine. Although not a ‘certified spice’, the flavor, the familiarity of the taste, and the sheer volume we consume have pushed the humble onion to the status of being a ‘core spice’.
So naturally, in a scenario where the onion is the main show, you want to get it to spot on.
Cutting onions for grilling is simple. Yes, the task is intimidating- much like any other grilling preparation- but it is not difficult.
If you know how to work a knife, then you are already a pro. All you need now are some basic ideas of shapes and a general “what to do” for you to be off to the grilling.
Cutting Onions For Grilling – The Preparation Phase
To start the ordeal, first, we go back to the basics of handling any vegetable- not just an onion.
Follow along step by step and check off the preliminary work you need to do before focusing on the actual cutting.
Give your onions a good bath in a bowl or a bucket full of water before you begin to work with them.
For added cleansing, you can opt to rinse under running water.
Washing removes dirt and debris from your onions.
Cleaning off right at the start ensures you don’t contaminate all of your food further along the road and saves you the pain of gritty bites.
After washing, you now want to focus on peeling. Place a slight slit on the stem-end of each onion and use it to peel off all the outer skin.
You want to peel it off right now so that none of the onion skin finds its way into the grill and so that cutting in bulk is a far less tedious task down the line.
Remove ONLY the stem end of your onions and keep the root end. This gives you a flat base to sit the onion up on.
The root end also allows you to control the onion and keep the whole thing together.
Cutting Onions For Grilling – The Chopping Phase
After all the basic prep work has been done, you can now start to explore the shapes and sizes that work best for you based on the onion of your choice and how you intend to have them.
Here are the 3 unilaterally loved cuts that go best with grilled onions:
Halving your onions is exactly what it sounds like. Just cut through the root end and, going from top to bottom in a vertical orientation, cut your onion in half.
Halving works best for smaller onions and in situations where you want bigger pieces.
Smaller red onions are best served in halves and allow you to enjoy the naturally sharp punch of the onion.
2. QUARTERED Or DICED
If the onion you are dealing with is larger or needs more help from seasoning, then quartering/dicing is the way to go.
Hold the onion by the root end, which you should leave intact. Then, lay the onion on its side and cut from the top to the bottom to get two halves.
For quartered onions, do this action again on the two halves.
After you cut the onions into quarters, make a few more cuts against the grain of each quarter, perpendicular to the cuts you just made. This will give you diced onions.
3. 1/4TH INCH RINGS
Cutting 1/4th inch rings is probably the most common method when grilling onions as it allows for good versatility- you can use the rings in burgers and sandwiches or improvise some battered onions rings if you want to.
Also, it is a good compromise between extra surface area for seasoning and bite sizes.
To cut your onion into rings, hold it from the root end on its sides so that you are cutting across the grain. Then start producing cuts approximately 1/4th of an inch apart from each other.
At this point, you should also skewer the onions to protect their shape when they are thrown onto the grill.
How to stop my onions from falling apart?
While halves and quartered onions rarely fall apart, rings and diced ones do.
The best way to fix this issue is by skewering the onions before putting them on the grill. This allows the onions to hold their shape as they are cooked.
Are bigger cuts better?
Not necessarily. It is an easy impulse to follow and go for bigger cuts, but the truth is that is not the best way.
The size of your cuts just comes down to how you want to eat the grilled onions.
If you are dealing with a tamer onion that you will eat as a side, then go for bigger cuts.
Alternatively, if the onion is spicier or you want to eat it in a sandwich or a burger, then a smaller cut is better.
Can I stop the onion from making me cry?
Yes, you can! The solution to this problem doesn’t have to be extravagant.
Simply have a fan blowing across your workstation and away from you that can take all the onion cry fumes away and leave you tearless.
Cutting onions appropriately for the grill isn’t tough and doesn’t have to be head-scratching-ly worrying. All the doubts and re-thinks you might face originate from the pressure of having to get it right.
So, stay calm and start on familiar grounds- wash and prep. Then put some thought into what shape works best for your purposes and just go for it.
That is all there is to cutting onions for grilling.