Today we’re making dried onions in a dehydrator. Dried onions are super handy to have around because they don’t go bad and they’re ready to use in whatever meal you’re making. Drying onions is easy and requires no cooking/blanching. So here’s how to dehydrate onions.
I bought a sack of onions last fall because, well, they were cheap and I needed an onion and I thought I’d just store the sack in my food storage room and have an onion whenever I needed one which worked pretty well until this spring when they decided they were done being dormant and started growing. You know–you’ve probably had an onion or two start sprouting on you, haven’t you?
Well, when an onion starts to grow, it uses itself to feed its new growth, so pretty soon the onion part is all soft and squishy and not appetizing or worth using any more, so I thought I’d better get busy and take care of these before they all used themselves up. (And before they took over the food storage room.)
I picked a warmish day with a good breeze and gathered my supplies: cutting board, sharp knife (really, get a sharp knife, not like the one I have in the picture–it was NOT sharp), something to hold onion bits, and if you’re real sensitive some rubber gloves and sunglasses. You could also use some other means of cutting–whatever you like to cut your onions up with, but you don’t want them pureed, so a food processor is probably not your best option. Maybe some kind of manual food chopper would work.
Next, I took the whole operation outside. Believe me when I say that dehydrating onions is not an inside job–I know from experience. This is where the breeze comes in handy. I can chop onions outside and hardly even cry. By the time I had about a third of the sack chopped (all the growing ones plus any that felt softish) I was running out of time to get this project done for the day, so I stopped chopping and took my 9×13 pan full of onion bits to my dehydrator which was also outside. You can put your dehydrator in a garage, shed, porch, anywhere but in the house–trust me on this one. Some dehydrating things smell really nice like herbs, jerky, fruit leathers . . . mmmmmm. Onions are not like that. They need to dry out of the house.
I spread the onions on the trays and dried at 125 degrees for about 8 hours, then forgot about them and left the whole setup outside overnight and woke up the next morning sick and didn’t bring them in until the following afternoon. Here they are in all their glory–dehydrated onions:
Don’t look like much, do they? They do a bit of shrinking when they dry and that whole 9×13 pan loosely filled two pint jars.
Lovely, aren’t they? The onions are super dry, so no worries about them going bad. Store them in airtight containers like mason jars or buckets with good sealing lids. For longer term storage use some mylar bags and oxygen absorbers and you’ll have onion when you need it whether you have an onion or not :)
Keep preparing! Angela
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I am literally allergic to onions. I have to buy and cook with dehydrated ones because even if I use gloves and don’t touch my eyes or anything my eyes swell shut. It would be good to have dehydrated onions and so smart to do it outside! So how are you feeling now? I hope better!
Why would you cook with onions, being allergic to them? You can’t eat them, and steam becomes airborn, which would get to you as well.
Just want to second the motion to do the dehydrating of onions, and of chives, far far outside! The house smelled, and my eyes watered in the house, for almost a week after I made the mistake of doing the chives indoors!!!
Yes – onions dehydrate great! When they come in on the cannery waste trucks for feeding the heifers, I usually grab some and dry them out.
First of all i will like to thank you my comment on the dehydration of onion is that,i think onion have not suitable shape or sliced onion are so difficult to dry due to their different shapes so how you dry it or how you know all sliced onion are dehydrated equally.finally i will like to ask you how to make onion powder .thank you.
Because you are drying the onions until they are crisp, it is actually very easy to get them all dried equally even if some pieces are larger than others. Just keep drying them until they are all crisp. When you try it you’ll be able to tell when they’re dry. They get very light and flaky looking. To make onion powder, put those dry pieces in a blender and blend them into a powder.
Hope you’re feeling better now!
I’m coveting your dehydrator. ;-) My little Nesco just arrived in the mail this week. I think I’m going to tackle kiwi first if I can find them here for a decent price. Yummmmm.
It never would have occured to me to do this outside…THANKS. And I love all the pictures.
I’m going to an ichiba (market) on Monday – wish me luck at finding some good produce to start learning on!
I haven’t dehydrated any of my onions. I have the Walking onion type that keeps growing and growing and growing. What I do is freeze them for little pearl onions. I would like to dehydrate some, but My dehydrator has an electric fan for circulation and requires it to be plugged in so No going outside with it. I do like you dehydrator it’s neat.
Anna–we have an outdoor outlet, so I just run an extension cord from that and plug the dehydrator in wherever I want it. You could also run an extension cord from an indoor outlet to your dehydrator outside, you’d just probably have to leave the door cracked so the cord could get out.
Angela, I read your blog often – but I don’t think I have ever left a comment. I think your blog is awesome. Soooo I’ve given you a blog award. You can stop by my blog anytime and pick it up.
Interesting…. I may have to try this. I’ve never been a big fan of dehydrated onions in cooking, but I’ve only used the little store-bought dehydrated flakes you find in the store the few times I’ve tried it. They didn’t do much for me, but store-bought stuff is often that way.
Have you had good luck with the home dried onions keeping their flavor when you cook with them?
I enjoy your blog, btw :)
And you can now take those super-dry onions, whirl them in a food processor, blender or coffee grinder for onion powder. Add some salt and you will have onion salt.
Thanks, Sondra! That made my day!
Paladin-these rehydrate better in your cooking than those commercial ones. The flavor with these is not quite the same as fresh chopped onion, but they do give enough flavor. I never know exactly how much dried onion makes how much fresh chopped onion also, so I’m usually guessing at the amount when I use these anyway.
Darlene–thanks! I completely forgot about adding that! Fantastic! :)
Excellent post! I actually blogged about ways to enjoy vegetables in an emergency and dehydrating them was one of the suggestions. It was so appropriate to find your blog today that I even added a link back. Thanks! http://tinyurl.com/c5lqdz
That’s a great idea, I honestly never thought to try that. It’d be great for Onion Soup!
(I got the bright idea that I should get a dehydrator and really get serious about putting up food. I found a site that looked good with great instructions here)Just wanted to let you know that I put your link on my page :)
Hi, I just stumbled onto your site while searching for info on dehydrating onions. I just got my dehydrator and have onions in there now. I think they are almost done, but I'm wondering how do I know when they are done? I guess I should have bought a How-to book before I started!
Kari, they're done when they're crispy dry. They'll crunch-no "meaty" onion bits left. Good luck! :)
Thank you Angela. I think they are almost done! They are still not quite crispy but almost. Thanks again for your help and responding so quickly:)
Michelle Cusick says
Boy! I sure wish i would have looked up this info before we dehydrated onions. We had to move them outside. LOL……but the onions are in our storage and just begging to be made into some yummy French Onion Soup. Can’t wait for a snowy day to make some. Great site you’ve got. I stopped by to read about dehydrating frozen broccoli and i’ll be here all night.
Herb Shearer says
On the subject of dehydrating ANYTHING…the purpose is to remove ALL of the moisture, thereby eliminating any bacteria growth…with that in mind, it’s always been my philosophy that there is no such thing as over drying anything, if maximum storage time is your goal.
June Linde says
Hi, I dont have a dehydrator but could I use the oven and just dry them overnight. Would it have the same effect?
June- an oven on very low temperature with the door cracked open would dry them. It’s not quite the same as a dehydrator, but would work in the absence of having a dehydrator.
sharon richards says
DO YOU HAVE A CONVERSION CHART BETWEEN DEHYDRATED ONIONS AND
REGULAR CHOPPED ONIONS? I CAN’T USE REGULAR ONIONS AND
THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD SOLUTION FOR ME.
I don’t have a conversion chart. I just sprinkle the onions in to whatever I’m making until I think I have enough. That’s probably not much help, sorry!
At what temperature are you dehydrating your onions at?
Valerie, I dry them at 125 degrees. Updated the post to say that–thanks!
Practical Parsimony says
I was given several pounds of Vidalia onions. They were dehydrated in the house with no problem because of the variety. It just smelled sweet like onions. Vialias are only grown in Georgia, so you may not get them in Utah. If I had dehydrated regular onions, I am sure that working and dehydrating in the house would not have worked.
When I use dehydrated onions, I try to remember not to use too much. It is hard to determine how much to use if I think about it too much. It certainly is convenient to use dehydrated onions instead of having to get out an onion and chop each time I cook.
Five pounds of onions made one pint of dehydrated onions. I dry them until they are crispy.
Kathy Jacobs says
I am dehydrating white onions in a nesco type machine. The some of the onions have turned pink! Is this a bacteria?
I haven’t seen this before, but it could just be a normal reaction to the heat from your particular variety of onion.
hey there, just crying my eyes out while my dehydrator dries my onions – indoors, as I didn’t read this post until after they started and it’s raining outside.
But, reading other blogs before hand (yours is the only so far with the ‘outdoor’ warning) onions turning pink from drying is a sign of high sugar content. Blanching the onions (less than 1 minute in water at rolling boil) should supposedly take care of that by slightly carmelizing the sugars.
Hope that helps someone. Thanks for trying to warn me. Tomorrow, I go to work smelling like Onion Soup.
Can you still eat these onions if they are pink? Mine did the same thing. They are the vidalas.
Yes, they just became discolored somehow through the processing but it is not mold or anything like that. They are perfectly safe to eat.
Great! Thank you so much! We have pink mold here, so I was a little worried.
I just stumbled upon this site…..pretty good info.
I have a Cabela’s 80L dehydrator, i have done lots of jerkey.
Decided to start on some long term food storage buckets.
1 adult. just a 90 day supply to start with, i will expand when this is done.
Any tips or tricks that would help is greatly appreciated.
Jerry, get some oxygen absorbers (available on amazon and from some food storage retailers) so your dried foods will stay fresh longer. You can pack in mylar bags and then put the mylar bags in the buckets if you want more than one item in a bucket. Remember you want to make meals with what you are storing, so it’s good to start with a simple menu and store the ingredients for those meals. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan–all the best to you in getting it done!
Would the onions be easier to handle if they were sliced, and then crumbled after drying? how thick would you recommend slicing?
I’d still dice them before drying–they don’t break apart really easy when they’re dried. They’ll crumble some, but you’ll end up with some larger pieces of onion. Unless you want to run the dried rings through your food processor or blender and make a powder/piece mixture that way–that might work. I’d slice about 1/4 inch thick–however thick you want them when they’re re-hydrated.
Thanks Angela. i will do the chop thing. i am thinking that i can grind chunks later if i need to.
being new to all of this i am doing 1 week buckets.
that way if i need to open a bucket it will have everything i need for one week instead of opening multiple buckets.
i have not ordered mylar bags yet. i am still in the R&D stage of this.
So i have a 5 pound bucket full of onions, here i thought i was going to use them in salsa and then found an easier way to make it, so with all these onions what to do? So i googled and found your website! This information helped so much..THANK YOU! I originally thought i would chop and freeze them but i already have some froze and i dont really use onions that much so i thought what if i dried them and with your information I would have never thought of doing them outside and i love love the pictures of your process. I am not done but i have 4 trays full drying as we speak. I just plugged my dehydrator in the garage not too worried if it stinks in there :) Thank you very very helpful!
So glad it helped you! :) Enjoy your onions!
Mary Shafer says
I have been dehydrating onions all winter for my daughter. After I dehydrate them I put them in the bullet and grind them to a powder and put back into the dehydrator to make sure they are dry. She uses the onion powder on everything. I can’t keep up with her. We went through 25lbs of onions.
Audrey Grunes says
Just got my dehydrator and found your site while looking for advice. Can you tell me if the dehydrator retains the smell of onions after you have finished drying
Thanks for the information
Mine has not. I wash the trays really well afterward and they are fine.
Have enjoyed reading your comments and replies. Received a dehydrator for Christmas and love it. So far bananas, apples, raisins, jerky, cucumbers. Onions are next, the tips are great. Look forward to more ideas.