Cutting, Preparation Tips and More

Onions have long been a staple for foodservice operators. They are used in a wide range of ethnic cuisines as well as traditional American fare. From soups and sandwiches to appetizers and salads, onions add color, texture, and flavor to menus.

How to Cut Onions

Cross-contamination can adversely affect foodservice operations. Take the proper stepes to avoid any potential problem by storing and preparing foods separately, maintaining proper personal hygiene, using the proper cutting tools and surfaces, and correctly cleaning and sanitizing equipment and supplies.


Yields & Conversions

Onion Size (inches)

2-1/2

3

3-1/2

4

4-1/2

Raw Onion
Average Weight

4.34 ounces

7.27 ounces

11.09 ounces

16.17 ounces

21.62 ounces

Raw Onion
Weight Range

3.71 to 5.33 ounces

6.26 to 9.23 ounces

10.06 to 12.32 ounces

15.00 to 18.06 ounces

20.85 to 22.07 ounces

Usable Peeled Onion per Raw Peeled Weight

73.54%

77.72%

78.54%

80.77%

81.64%

Peeled Onion Weight Range

2.47 to 4.68
ounces

4.81 to 7.84
ounces

7.7 to 10.11
ounces

11.46 to 15.64
ounces

15.90 to 18.96
ounces

Usable Onion Slabs Range

3 to 4 slabs

4 to 5 slabs

4 to 5 slabs

5 to 6 slabs

6 to 8 slabs

Usable Onion Rings Range

12 to 19 rings

16 to 27 rings

24 to 38 rings

20 to 49 rings

38 to 59 rings

Measure Diced Onions Per Raw Onion Weight

2.47 cups per pound

2.71 cups per pound

2.74 cups per pound

2.79 cups per pound

2.82 cups per pound


Onion Preparation Tips

  • Prepare onions as close to cooking or serving time as possible. An onion's flavor deteriorates and its aroma intensifies over time.
  • Refrigerate onions 30 minutes before preparation to prevent tearing.
  • To remove the smell of onions, rub hands and equipment with lemon juice or salt.
  • Properly refrigerated, chopped or sliced onions can be stored in a sealed container for 7 to 10 days.
  • High heat makes onions turn bitter. When sautéing onions, always use low or medium heat.
  • Yellow onions are considered all-purpose and best for cooking.

Cooking Tips

  • The taste and texture of onions varies greatly depending on their preparation. Onions can be braised, boiled, steamed, baked, grilled, sautéd, caramelized, roasted, or fried.
  • Sautéing onions softens their texture and enriches their taste. Onions can be heated in broth or wine instead of butter or oil to lower the fat content.
  • Mild/sweet onions are ideal for salads and other fresh or lightly cooked dishes.
  • Full flavored onions are best for savory dishes that require longer cooking times or more flavor. They often have a peppery taste, characteristic of a good cooking onion.

Differences between Spring/Summer (Fresh) and Fall/Winter (Storage) Onion Varieties

Because spring/summer (fresh) and fall/winter (storage) onion varieties differ, preparation also varies. These differences were evaluated and tested by the Art Institute's School of Culinary Arts in Denver, Colorado.

General Differences

Onions with a higher water content (fresh) take longer to cook. Onions with higher solids (storage) will cook in less time.

Caramelized

Fresh onions took about 40 minutes to caramelize. The cooking time was longer due to higher water content. The water has to cook off before the onions can begin to caramelize.

The caramelized onion flavor was mild and sweet.

Storage onions took about 20 minutes to caramelize. The cooking time was less due to higher percent of solids. The flavor was peppery sweet.

Breaded

Breaded onion rings are a common item on menus of quick-serve, mid-scale, and steakhouse restaurants. When preparing onion rings or blooms, it is important to follow a standard breading procedure.

After breading, the onions need to sit in the refrigerator/freezer for breading to adhere to the onions.

Fresh onions required a longer resting time after breading due to the higher water content (about 20 minutes in the freezer or refrigerator). Fresh onions required a a slightly longer frying time as well.

The flavor of fried fresh onions was mild and sweet.

Storage onions required less resting time after being breaded. They required a shorter frying time. Fried storage onions will have an apealing peppery flavor.

Avocado Citrus Salad with Marinated Onion
Avocado Citrus Salad with Marinated Onion

Bright flavors of citrus and onion pair up with avocado for a great salad.
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