Onion Toppings for Your Summer Cookout

Onions are a favorite topping for summer cookouts. Whether its brats, burgers or hot dogs, onions have a special way of making them all taste better!


This year, we’re celebrating the summer Outdoors with Onions by showing you how to make your ordinary chopped onions more exciting and flavorful.

Family and friends will love these sweet, tangy, seasonal condiments and salads, but the recipes are only part of the fun. We also show you how to share them at your very own hot dog and brat bar! We have plenty of tips and tricks for the ultimate buffet of condiments so each person can pile on the toppings and make their own tasty creation.

A little about summer onions grown in the U.S.A.

Summer onions can be yellow, red or white and they are ideal for using fresh in recipes like salads and relishes. You can identify them by their thinner, lighter skin and their sweet to mild flavor. Summer onions have a higher water content so they tend to have a shorter shelf life than winter onions. This won’t be an issue because we are going to give you plenty of ways to use onions all summer long.

Using summer onions for toppings

We have a few recommendations for how to slice up and serve onions that will come in handy as we share with you our ultimate hot dog bar and onion toppings over the next few weeks. Be sure to check out our How to Cut An Onion guide for step-by-step instructions.

1. Serve them diced for sprinkling. Finely diced onion is perfect for sprinkling over your favorite grilled foods. The sweet flavor and crunchy texture will complement a salty hot dog or brat, and the small pieces will ensure you get a hint of onion with each bite.

2. Thin slices soak up the flavor. When pickling onions or serving them dressed in a vinaigrette, thin slices are best for soaking up the most flavor. As the onions marinate, the liquid will be able to infuse each slice. When the onions are ready to serve, they’ll be soft and pliable so you can pile more on your grilled brats!

3. Narrow wedges create a pretty presentation. Red onions turn a pretty purple-pink when pickled. They are especially attractive when the onions are cut into narrow wedges before pickling. Simply refer to Step 3 of our How to Cut An Onion guide. When making evenly spaced cuts, cut at a slight angle inward so the slice is wider in the middle and tapers to a point at each end.

4. We like to double up! When topping hot dogs and brats, feel free to add more than one color or texture of onion. We highly recommend fresh diced pieces, layered with pickled onions or an onion salad for a delicious blend of flavors and textures.

Next week:  If you like sweet corn with your onion, be sure to check out the relish we have for you next week. Also, mark your calendars! Our Outdoors with Onions Twitter Party will be Thursday, July 21st at 11:30 am PT/2:30 pm ET. Just follow the hashtag #OnionsOutdoors. We want to hear all about how you use onions for your summer cookouts!


By Lori Rice for the National Onion Association


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