Editor's note: Updated 3.12.20
A humble onion has to be the most versatile and important vegetable in the kitchen. Think of all the dishes that start with an onion: the stocks, the stews, and the sauces ...we could continue.This simple infographic from Pounds to Pocket provides instructions for how to cook onions nine different ways, from caramelising them or sweating them down, to roasting them – whatever it takes to extract all that flavour and sweetness.
We’d probably suggest a few adaptations to these instructions, like maybe sweating your onions in butter to kick the richness of your dish up a level, but it’s a nice starting point if you want to know how to get the best out of the mighty bulb.
Do you want to learn from the pros too? Watch Michelin-starred chefs cook onions in different ways.
9 different ways to cook onions
To achieve lovely sweet and soft onions to go in a frittata or omelette try carmelising them by cooking them in oil, butter and brown sugar until they are sweet and golden. Find out how to caramelise onions in the oven. You can caramelize almost any onion, but red onions work best because of their rich colour and sweetness.
Sauteed onions are perfect for pasta, burgers or pizza. Simply cook sliced onion in oil over a high heat until tender and golden. Shallots work especially well for sautéeing.
Bake onions in the oven to achieve sweet and mellow flavours, the perfect for accompaniment to sausages and mash.Use a large onion, white and yellow onions are great for this as their flavour deepens with the slow and low cooking method.
Sweated onions are ideal for rice pilaf and white sauces as they retain their transluscentness as a result of the cooking process where the onions are sweated in a pot over the stove with their lid on. White onions will keep their subtle flavour when sweating.
Simply boil whole onions in a pan of boiling water to tenderise them ready for adding to dishes like boeuf bourguignon. Use any onions for boiling, small pearl onions are especially good for boiling.
Charring onions on the grill gives them a whole new dimension of smokey sweetness. Perfect for pairing with grilled meats. It depends on the meat you are serving them, but any onion works well for grilling, especially red onion.
Roasted whole onions
Roast onions in their skin until they are sweet and spreadable.Large white and yellow onions work very well as the skin imparts a delicious rich flavour to the delicate flesh.