Save time on grilling onions this Labor Day

Onions are the essential ingredient in every chef’s recipe box but they can add some time to your cooking schedule. This Labor Day, you probably want a little more time with friends and less at the grill.

We love onions as much as you do and with the help of our cooking pros, we have plenty of onion cooking hacks to share that save time without sacrificing the use of onions as a staple ingredient that builds flavor in all of your favorite recipes.

As you prepare for Labor Day festivities, Linda Carucci, culinary instructor and author of Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks, offers her favorite onion hack on the grill.


Grilled Onions

Foolproof grilled onions add exponential flavor—and panache—to a juicy grilled hamburger. And they’re tender enough not to shimmy out of place when you bite into the burger.

“One of the things I have found that saves times and cleverly transforms the onion slice on a burger, for example, is the trick of microwaving the slices before I grill them,” Carucci says.

In her book, Carucci advises to skewer each slice of onion with two toothpicks (at 3 and 6 o’clock on the clock face) to hold the onion layers in place.


After removing the skins, skewer each onion slice with two perpendicular toothpicks. Round toothpicks are easiest to work with here. To soften the onions before they hit the grill, arrange the slices in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate, then microwave them for three minutes.


Then she microwaves them.

“Place the onions on a microwave-safe plate and microwave them on high for 3 minutes to cook partially. (Or, steam on a steamer rack above boiling water for 5 minutes),” she advises. “Brush both sides of the onions with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Then grill them, turning as necessary until they are soft and golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes tota

You’ll find the complete recipe for Grilled Red Onions and lots more helpful tips and techniques in Linda Carucci’s Cooking School Secrets for Real World Cooks, named a Washington Post Best Cookbook of 2016.


Place the oiled and seasoned onion slices on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until grill marks appear.

Try Carucci’s trick on the National Onion Association’s recipe for

Grilled Onion Cheeseburgers


2 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 large yellow or white on ions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1-2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
4 white or whole wheat hamburger buns, or Kaiser rolls, split
3 ounces crumbled or shredded cheese (blue cheese, smoked mozzarella, goat cheese, feta, etc.)*


Combine ground beef, thyme and garlic in medium bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into eight 1/2-inch thick patties.

Follow Carucci’s tips above for preparing sliced onions.

Place patties and onions slices on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill patties, uncovered, 11-13 minutes to medium (160 degrees F) doneness until no longer pink in center and juices show no pink color, turning occasionally.

Add desired cheese to burgers about 1 minute before removing from grill. Place cheese-topped burgers on bottom of each bun and top with 1/2 of grilled onions. Close sandwiches. Cover and refrigerate remaining 4 burgers and onions to use in “Meatballs” & Pasta with Grilled Onions & Fresh Tomato Sauce.
Makes 4 servings.
Total preparation and cooking time: 35 to 45 minutes

*Any type of sliced, shredded or crumbled cheese may also be used to top burgers. We suggest cheddar, Swiss, provolone, gouda, blue cheese, smoked mozzarella, goat cheese or feta.

Special notes

Recipe and image provided by the National Onion Association.

Onion hack and images copyright Linda Carucci, Permission granted for use in this National Onion Association blog at

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