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How I Freeze Onions

While the thought of making up casseroles and freezing them might not be appealing to your family, there are many ways that you can use your freezer to speed up cooking preparations. Here’s one example:

I really do not enjoy chopping up onions (does anyone?), but I do love how they taste in recipes, so I’ve found that my best options are to buy bags of frozen already-chopped onions at the store (which I have done when I’ve found a good sale on them!) or to chop them in bulk and freeze them. I usually opt for the latter since it just seems fresher to me, for some reason.

I did a big batch of onions on Freezer Cooking Day and thought I’d share what works for me:

1) Cut off the ends, peel, and cut in fourths.

2) Stick in the food processor and chop. If you don’t have a food processor, you can also use a blender, though it will chop the onion pretty fine.

3) Measure 1/2 cup of chopped onions into small sandwich baggies and then stick these into a freezer bag (as shown above). Freeze.

You can then just pull out a bag of chopped onions and use them in recipes whenever they call for chopped onion. Doing them in bulk like this saves a lot of time and effort–and tears! However, if I had followed the advice from Meal Planning Mommies here, I wouldn’t have had to worry about the tears!

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64 Comments

  • Chelsea says:

    Thanks so much for the tip! I HATE chopping onions, but like you, love the taste of them in recipes. I never even thought about putting them in the food processor…that’s brilliant! I only recently discovered how wonderful a food processor is for shredding cheese, so I’m so glad to find yet another practical use!

    • Diane says:

      Once the onions are chopped, use an old ice cube tray to measure the portions and freeze. The you can pop them out of the tray and place them in zip lock bags. No muss no fuss.

  • Laura Martin says:

    I also freeze onions already chopped. I just freeze them in quart size bags, flattened very thin.. then break off the “chunk” I need.

  • jennifer says:

    My mom always did this and I do this now as well. I have a Tupperware chopper thing that works great. I lay my onions on some wax paper to flash freeze, then put them in a ziploc.
    Same exact process for my bell (green/red) peppers.

    Makes life a little more convenient!

  • If I cut onions when I’m wearing my contact lenses, I don’t get tears. If I have my contacts out, I’m crying the whole time. Note: I am not suggesting getting contacts if you don’t need them simply to avoid tears while cutting onions. 🙂

  • Kacy says:

    In the past, when I have frozen whole onions, they have defrosted to a mushy mess. Is this resolved in the way you freeze them because the onions are chopped? Maybe that was my issue. Thanks!

    • Crystal says:

      @Kacy, I’ve never had trouble with them being mushy if they are chopped before freezing.

    • Sarah says:

      @Kacy, I think I’ve had the same issue if trying to defrost and use the onions fresh. But when putting them in with a meal or sauteing/cooking right away, the mushy mess doesn’t matter as much. In fact, when sauteing I don’t even defrost them – just throw the frozen diced onions into the pan.

    • andrea says:

      No onions become watery when frozen. So chopped frozen onions are good for soups meatloaf spaghetti sauce things like that

  • Cindy says:

    I freeze onions all the time. I rarely use a whole one at once when I need fresh. I will diced them, julienne, rough chop, mince, and leave it whole (or halved and freeze. That way I have them in whatever form I will need them and just use them straight from the freezer!

    • Bunny says:

      Cindy, we were going out of town, so I just put the whole onions in the freezer. So you’re saying they’ll be OK? Was planning to cook/ crock pot with them…. How should I prepare one? Won’t be a mushy mess?

  • Betsy Durand says:

    I do the same as far as freezing cut-up onions ahead of time. By the way, green peppers work great too! (especially in summer when there is an abundance from our friends’ gardens). I highly recommend the Pampered Chef food chopper for these sorts of jobs. Cuts the work in half, easy clean-up (dishwasher) and the pieces are uniform.

  • Zena says:

    Does anyone have problems with the frozen onions stinking up your freezer? I’ve tried this once, and even doubled bagged them, and my deep freezer reeked of onions! That was even with a large box of baking soda in there. I gave up after that.

    • Tara says:

      @Zena, I had the same problem! I put each chopped onion in it’s own small freezer bag. Then I put the small bags into a larger freezer bag, seal and then put that bag into another large freezer bag and seal. You do have to use multiple bags, but I re-use them and it’s not a problem.

    • Kanietha Goff says:

      @Zena, I have had the same problem, I have even double and triple bagged them. It smells up the whole freezer. does anyone have a solution for this.

    • Brianne says:

      @Zena,
      that’s what I was thinking would happen! I’ve stored left-over chopped onion in my fridge before- HUGE mistake. The only way I think this would work is if you saute’ed them before freezing. But then, that’s not saving you much work!

      • Kansas Mom says:

        @Brianne, I freeze onions all the time and don’t have a problem. You really have to use quality freezer bags, though. I only use zip lock freezer bags when I’m storing things in the freezer. They keep the smell in and are very sturdy, so we can wash and re-use them. (I tend to re-use them for onions, to avoid making something like shredded cheese smell like onions.)

  • Brandy says:

    I freeze chopped onions all the time! I also freeze green peppers that I’ve cut into strips. That way I can either finishing dicing them or leave them as is for different recipes. I find it’s the best way to keep green peppers when you find them on sale!

  • Patty says:

    Along with freezing onions I like to chop raw carrots and celery for the freezer. It is very convenient to add these to a pot of soup and because the vegetables have been frozen they do not take as long to cook.

    • Emily Kay says:

      @Patty, So you can freeze celery the same way? I’m always wasting celery because I can never use up a whole bunch at one time.

      • Rachel says:

        I recently froze celery, carrots and potatoes but you need to blanch them first. I have never frozen without blanching. I have used them twice for a pot of roast and they turned out Great! I will do that from now on since I usually cannot use a whole bag of celery or carrots before they go bad and it’s easy to just pull out of the freezer to add to a meal!

  • Great tip! I also save my onion skins and cuttings in the freezer to use when I make homemade chicken broth.

  • sherry says:

    here in la. every recipe (it seems) starts with the ‘holy trinity’: onions, green peppers, and celery. I like to chop these together and freeze also. Great when you’re limited for time in the kitchen.

  • Jenn V. says:

    When I have onions that have been around too long or partial onions in the refrigerator, I will chop them up and put them in a zip lock in the freezer. I also find this to be a handy way of storing my green peppers from the garden in the summer. They usually last me well past the season!
    But…I must admit that I’m guilty of buying the frozen package of chopped onions and peppers at the store. I love have the two combined into one package and the truth is…they’re cheaper by the pound this way.

    /J

  • Jenn says:

    I’ve never thought of freezing chopped onions…great idea! I’ll have to do the carrots and celery too because we never eat the whole bag of either when I get them for soups/stews!
    One way I cut down on tears when cutting onions (the only way that works for me!) is to rinse the onion in cold water after I’ve cut it into halves or quarters. The water washes away the “molecules” (or whatever…I can’t think of the right word!!) that cause our eyes to tear up. Also having them in the refrigerator before chopping helps.

  • Donese says:

    This is wonderful! It’s a simple solution to a BIG problem that many of us have. I always call my husband to cut the onions for me. Thank you.

  • Tovah says:

    I find putting the chopped onions into the snack size bags instead of sandwich size are perfect proportions for most recipes.

  • I also freeze chopped onions and peppers in bags, flattened out. Sadly, I just used the last of my chopped peppers from the summer harvest. I also run baby carrots through the shredder of my food processor and freeze them flat, when it looks like we won’t finish a bag in time before they go bad. I throw them in casseroles, spaghetti, soup, etc.

  • Candi says:

    I do this too. It’s really good to keep in mind when huge bags of onions are on sale (or reduced for quick sale because they are fixing to go bad). We live in Georgia and visit Savannah quite a bit. We drive right through Vidalia, Georgia where they sell 25 lb bags of Vidalia onions at the gas stations pretty cheap. I always try to pick up a bag and chop and freeze them.

  • I attended a cooking class this weekend. It was on knife skills. One of the things the chef taught us was the reason we cry when we cut onions. The first is the time of year. When we buy onions off season the chemical that makes us cry is in larger quantities in the onions. The second reason: Your knife is not sharp enough. If your knife isn’t sharp enough then you’re bruising the onion and releasing the chemical. When you have a sharp knife then it will quickly and easily slice through the onion.

  • mindy says:

    If you have the problem of smelling the onions in your freezer, wrap them in foil! there is something about the foil that keeps them from smelling up your fridge/freezer. The foil keeps the onion dark and dry, not to mention limiting its affect on other foods.

    It’s just like washing your hands with something stainless steel after chopping them to get the smell off your hands.

  • Kim says:

    I have also have sisters that chop onions and than they put it in ice cube trays to freeze and once frozen put the cubs of onion in a bag.

  • Daina says:

    I have one of those “veggie chopper” things (like this: http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-International-GOC-301-Vegetable-Chopper/dp/B0018N0TGS/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1267541616&sr=1-3), and while it is a pain to clean, it’s worth it for chopping really big loads of veggies very quickly and then freezing!

  • Cricket says:

    Glad I found you! I am trying to save a lot more and it looks like you have a lot of great content.

  • Kellie says:

    After chopping my onions and green peppers, I usually spread them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and freeze for one to two hours, then put them in a ziploc bag. It keeps them from coming out in one big chunk!

  • Last time I tried chopping onions, I lit a candle and put it right next to my board. Not only did I still cry, but I also got a headache from the scent! I’ve had no difference in the amount I cry whether I’m wearing contacts or glasses. I’ve read about wearing goggles – think swimming or snorkeling! – and I think that might be about the only thing that will help me…

  • Jan says:

    I think I learned this one thru Martha Stewart years ago. It works and helps:
    Put a (scented?) votive candle in a cup, light it and keep it nearby on the counter when chopping onion.It ‘wicks away’ the stinging fumes.
    On the chop and freeze line, I grate carrots or zucchini and keep them in the freezer. Nice to have easy carrots to put in soup. Sometimes it’s hard to ‘sell’ the big chunks of carrots to the family in the chicken noodle/split pea/bean/lentil soup.
    I also cut and de-seed peppers that I find on sale (‘day-old rack’?) or at the farm mkt to freeze. One bell pepper can give 4 or 5 thick slice rings. Rings go into a zipbag and can be pulled out a couple at a time to chop into chili or pasta sauce. When I’m feeling truly lazy, I break them by hand into the sauce. No extra knife! With frozen chopped onion and breakable peppers and a 1-lb baggie of cooked frozen ground meat, you’re most of the way to sauce.

  • Sarah says:

    I have found that I avoid the tears when I put the onion in the whole onion (skin and all) into the freezer for about 5 minutes. This has worked for me without fail. I also saw this on the Food Network Show, Food Detectives.

  • dani says:

    Brilliant! I’m definitely going to do this!

  • Rita says:

    Fruits and vegetables chosen for freezing tend to be processed at their peak ripeness, a time when—as a general rule—they are most nutrient-packed.

    While the first step of freezing vegetables—blanching them in hot water or steam to kill bacteria and arrest the action of food-degrading enzymes—causes some water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C and the B vitamins to break down or leach out, the subsequent flash-freeze locks the vegetables in a relatively nutrient-rich state.

    On the other hand, fruits and vegetables destined to be shipped to the fresh-produce aisles around the country typically are picked before they are ripe, which gives them less time to develop a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Outward signs of ripening may still occur, but these vegetables will never have the same nutritive value as if they had been allowed to fully ripen on the vine. In addition, during the long haul from farm to fork, fresh fruits and vegetables are exposed to lots of heat and light, which degrade some nutrients, especially delicate vitamins like C and the B vitamin thiamin.

    Bottom line: When vegetables are in-season, buy them fresh and ripe. “Off-season,” frozen vegetables will give you a high concentration of nutrients. Choose packages marked with a USDA “U.S. Fancy” shield, which designates produce of the best size, shape and color; vegetables of this standard also tend to be more nutrient-rich than the lower grades “U.S. No. 1” or “U.S. No. 2.”

  • Thank you for the onion tip! I look forward to reading about more money saving tips using the freezer. I love to learn about all of the things that you can freeze! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • chelsea says:

    refrigerating onions (or sticking them in the freezer for a couple of minutes right before chopping them) works to keep the volatile oils in the onions from releasing as well when you cut them, so they can’t make your eyes sting nearly as much. that’s how i always do it, and then freeze the leftover chopped onion for later. 🙂 (♥ alton brown & good eats, lol)

  • Melissa M says:

    I have a ton of onions frozen in my freezer. What I do is freeze them in muffin tins and then once they are frozen take them out and store in a gallon ziplock. Then when you need onion for a recipe you just pull out the amount you need. Usually one is about half a cup.

  • KimC says:

    To reduce odor in the freezer, it helps to use freezer bags instead of storage bags. They look the same but the freezer bags are made of a thicker plastic that doesn’t let the odors through so readily.
    Keeping onions in the fridge helps a lot with burning eyes, but my girls always wear swimming goggles to totally shield their eyes. It looks ridiculous, but who doesn’t need a good laugh now and then?

  • Cassie says:

    I thought that her idea was a little time consuming and I barely have any freezer, so this does not work for me. I put the whole onion into the freezer for about 30 min- 1hour and then chop them up and bag them. Works just as well.

  • I have some tips for Bulk Hamburger prep (including premixing, but not cooking meatloaf):
    http://sarahsdeals.blogspot.com/2008/11/what-i-do-with-bulk-hamburger.html
    And how I get around menu planning by preping my freezer for 10 minute meals:
    http://sarahsdeals.blogspot.com/2008/11/i-dont-really-menu-plani-plan-quick.html
    Enjoy!

  • Kelli says:

    SO funny! I have my husband do multiple onions at once. I seriously cannot even be near the kitchen though b/c they make me cry so bad! I hadn’t thought of freezing them though… great suggestion.

  • lisa says:

    I just chopped onions and put them in a zip lock. Then I break them apart and measure out what I want. I don’t bother with pre measuring. Easy peasy.

  • Cortney says:

    Ha I def. need to do this. Not only b/c its not my favorite task but because my three year old has found where I keep them and thinks it the funnest thing to spread the peels throughout the house and I’m finding my onions all over the house! So thanks for the timely tip!!!

  • ALB says:

    I do the same thing! My mom always did this growing up. I started putting them in ice cube trays (sprayed first with PAM) for a few hours in the freezer first and then place in a ziploc bag when frozen. So easy!

  • anoo says:

    i always keep a wet bar of soap next to the cutting board when i chop onions. The alkali in the soap nullifies the acid in the onions….by the time the vapours reach my eyes, they are neutral…so i dont cry… yay! my mom taught me this.

  • Sheena says:

    This is a great idea. I have been wondering if onions could be frozen. Thanks!

  • I’ve done this for a while now too — WONDERFUL isn’t it!?! Another thing I’ve done is to cram them down into ice cube trays. Once they’re frozen I jsut pop them out and into a bigger freezer bag. Then they’re in little chunks just ready to be added to anything!

  • Karen says:

    I am a 72 yr.old Grandmother and just found your website. I am going on a trip and have about 6 onions I hate to throw away so now I’m going to chop and freeze them. So happy to have found this website.
    Karen

  • Kathy says:

    To save a few steps, here are some more tips.

    1. Saute or caramelize the onions first. For long term storage, store in food saver bags.

    2. Use an onion chopper. I use the Vidalia onion chopper and it saves a ton of time.

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