How to Freeze Onions

Last updated 05/17/2020 | |

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It's easy to freeze onions to use in your favorite recipes. Prevent waste and save money and time by freezing excess onions from your garden or the store.

frozen chopped onions in black bowl

I confess...the idea of freezing onions isn’t one that often crosses my mind. But when I saw a 10 pound bag of onions for $4 at Costco, it was a deal I couldn't pass up. 

Holy moly, 10 pounds of onions is a lot of onions to use up...

I made stir-fry.

I made a double batch of Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce.

I chopped and sauteed some to add to Baked Italian Meatballs. And we still had tons of onions left! 

bowl of yellow onions on counter

While onions can be dehydrated or canned, it’s easiest to preserve your bounty by freezing them. Raw onions freeze well, and they can be used in any cooked recipe. 

I’m using yellow onions here, since that is what was on sale. But this technique will work with white onions, yellow onions, red onions, or shallots. Freezing is also a great way to save a bit of onion that's leftover from a recipe, so it doesn’t go to waste.

Here's how easy it is to freeze your onions!

bowl of frozen chopped onions

How to Freeze Onions

Peel the onion, trim the top and root end, and chop it to a small dice. You can do this with a knife, but I prefer to use my food processor. (This is my favorite food processor--so easy to use and clean!) A few pulses and you have chopped onions with no tears. 

spoon full of chopped onions

It’s not a good idea to freeze whole onions. Once frozen, they’ll turn into a solid block that will be nearly impossible to chop and use. Take a few minutes now to chop your onions for easier use later.

Tip: if your hands smell like onions after chopping, wash them and then rub a drop of lemon essential oil on your hands. 

Put your chopped onions in a thin layer on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking mat. It’s OK if the onion pieces touch each other, but try to keep them in a single layer.

cookie sheet with chopped onions

You might be tempted to pile all your onions pieces in a bowl and freeze them that way, but please don’t...you’ll see why in a minute. 

Cover the cookie sheet tightly with aluminum foil and set it in the freezer, trying to keep it as level as possible. Make sure the aluminum foil is tightly sealed so the onion smell doesn’t leak out and stink up the freezer. 

Leave the onions in the freezer until they’re completely frozen--at least 2 hours. Then take the cookie sheet out of the freezer. See how the onion bits are individually frozen? Freezing them flat on the cookie sheet makes it easy to use and store them. 

hand holding bits of frozen onion

Here’s why you don’t want to just pile the onions in a bowl and stick the bowl in the freezer. You’ll end up with an onion popsicle!

frozen chunk of onions

How to Store Frozen Onions

Since your onions are NOT an onion popsicle, you can store the entire batch in a large freezer bag. Label the bag and press out as much air as possible before putting it in the freezer. 

Your onions will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months, but I bet you’ll use them up long before then.

How to Use Frozen Onions

It’s easy to use your frozen onions. You don’t even have to thaw them before cooking with them! Measure out exactly the amount you need from your freezer bag and toss it back in the freezer. 

If your recipe doesn’t specify a measurement, here are good estimates:

Small onion: ½ cup chopped frozen onion

Medium onion: 1 cup chopped frozen onion

Large onion: 1½ cups chopped frozen onion

Freezing onions does not ruin them, but it does change their texture. Because of this, you’ll want to use frozen onions in cooked recipes--not fresh dishes like salsa or potato salad.

bowl of frozen chopped onions

Here are some delicious recipes for your frozen onions:

Instant Pot Beef & Onion Soup

Homemade Fried Rice

10 Minute Spaghetti Sauce

Cabbage & Kielbasa Soup

Creamy Pomodoro Sauce

Pumpkin Chili with Ground Beef

pumpkin chili with ground beef

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18 Comments

  1. Joanne heydon on March 23, 2020 at 8:39 pm

    I suggest you double bag them before freezing because they off gas and it is strong and will transfer to other porous frozen items. Your whole freezer will smell like aging onion! Also you can get rid of onion and garlic and other strong odor foods on your hands by rubbing stainless steel with the smelly hands. Or buy a steel oval at gourmet shops specifically made for this. You could use a high quality stainless steel spoon.

  2. Sherri on February 24, 2020 at 5:07 am

    I freeze onions,red,green,orange,& Yellow peppers,celery,mushrooms…processed them in my processor, freeze them in ice trays and put in z-lock bag ….I make mushroom stock ( I have heart issue and store bought stock has too much salt) freeze then in saved applesauce fruit cup container then put them is z-lock bag to store in freezer. The fruit cup containers is about 1/3 cup,perfect for cooking frozen veg or using in just about every thing!

  3. Keith Sankey on November 18, 2019 at 8:28 pm

    I am a retired food scientist and worked in the food industry for 40 years. If you use proper personal hygiene and equipment sanitation practices, bacteria that is absorbed or any surface bacterial contamination will be minimal. Once frozen, any minimal bacterial contamination will cease growing and vitamins, including vitamin C, will be preserved. Subsequent cooking in some manner will eliminate any health hazard. Onions are a good source of vitamin C and other nutrients. Freezing is a good preservation method. However, the heat from subsequent cooking will degrade or destroy much of the vitamin content. That is why onions are mainly used for flavor enhancement in a processed food in most cases. Use fresh onions for eating raw in your salads and sandwiches and pay attention to good hygiene and sanitation practices in all cases.

  4. Valerie on November 3, 2019 at 11:26 am

    If you have an excess of onions that need to be used, what would you do with them?

  5. Lynne on October 30, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    When cutting onions or garlic get rid of the odour on your hands by rubbing your hands on the inside of your stainless steel washup basin. Odour gone.

  6. Donna Mandell on August 20, 2019 at 10:03 am

    I purchase 2-3 10# bags of Vidalia onions every year from the organization Civitans. Onions come from the Vidalia onion farms & proceeds go to buy playground equipment for handicap children so they can play too. Farmers there say & it’s true, wrap your Vidalia in a newspaper & store in refrigerator. I’ve done this & had whole onions ready to use for any dish & they were in refrigerator for a little over a year. Since buying so many I have also frozen for onion rings, different dishes all packed in zip lock bags. So we do both methods with 30# or so.

  7. Glynis on February 15, 2019 at 6:40 am

    You are SO smart! I freeze mine in ice cube trays first, then put the cubes into a larger freezer bag but your way is less labor intensive which I’m ALL about.

  8. Joyce on September 9, 2018 at 6:54 pm

    Washing your hands with salt will remove the smell of onions or garlic.

  9. Molly on August 25, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Do frozen onions get stronger in taste?

    • Jean on May 21, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      When I froze mine they lost there taste and was mushy….but maybe I need to cook them frozen and not thaw them out……not sure what I did wrong LOL

      • Becki on November 17, 2020 at 7:42 am

        I regularly freeze my onions and it’s important to cook them through to avoid the “chewy” texture. If you thaw them they lose their flavor in the liquid they give off. I thawed mine the first time and drained the “water” not realizing I was draining the onions flavor away. I used to cut up a single onion and store each one in a quart freezer bag the put multiple bags in a gallon bag. I now have a vacuum sealer so I just seal each onion and I found it does hold a little more flavor, but either way works great. Just know frozen is not “exactly” the same as fresh, but it is a great second option for price savings and for people like me who can’t drive and cook from scratch. Just toss your frozen onions in your pan and cook then down and you should have better luck.

  10. Gwyn on June 26, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    If you have a stainless steel faucet, just rub your hands on it like you’re putting lotion on. Cheaper than the SS Bar

  11. Mar Far on June 23, 2015 at 2:07 am

    It is not a good idea to chop and freeze the onion because the chopped onion absobs the microbs and also the vitimine c will go away!!!!

  12. Cheryl on May 3, 2015 at 5:11 am

    No lemon? Rub your hands with something stainless steel. Williams and Sonoma sells a SS “bar of soap” to use. But you can save the 10$$ by finding something already in your kitchen.

    • Vivian Witbracht on June 26, 2020 at 8:55 pm

      Like your faucet or be careful a chopping knife blade!

  13. Darlene on April 27, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I just throw mine in a plastic zip top bag to freeze. If they clump, I bang them on the counter a couple of times and they’re fine. Cuts out the freeze then repackage step. I use them fon homemade pizza, in spaghetti sauce (especially store bought to spice it up a bit), almost anything but salads.
    I also do this with bell peppers and use them for many of the same things.
    I grate zucchini and summer squash and freeze it. It’s definitely a lump, so I freeze it in single serve quantities. I add it to soup and spaghetti sauce to sneak in extra veggies that no one notices.

  14. Reina on April 17, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Thanks for the tip! It’s so useful to have already chopped onions on hand. And, I hadn’t thought of using lemon essential oil to cut the scent. I remember my great-grandma used lemon to cut the scent of garlic on her hands, but I bet the oil would work better. Thanks again! 🙂

  15. mayakey on April 16, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    This is a great idea! I also got sold on having cubes of pureed roasted onion in the freezer back when we were doing homemade baby food, because they can be so convenient for adding roasted onion flavor to normal food, too.

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