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charred onions in grill basket
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5 from 10 votes

Charred Onions on the Grill

Tender, sweet charred onions on the grill make a delicious condiment or side dish and are a snap to make using a grill basket. Little effort, big return. A pretty traditional topping for burgers, but also delicious in burritos, quesadillas, scrambled eggs, salsas, quinoa or rice dishes.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Condiment, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings (change as needed): 4
Author: Cheryl


  • 2 large onions, Note 2 I use sweet onions and/or red onions
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • pinch sugar (optional) helps caramelize onions


  • Heat gas grill to medium-high heat, about 400F/204C. Spray grill basket with oil. (No grill basket? note 1)
  • PREPARE ONIONS: Thinly slice onions about 1/4 inch thick (Note 3). Transfer onions to grill basket sprayed with oil. Drizzle onions with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and pinch of sugar. Toss to coat onions. Note 4 for optional seasonings.
  • GRILL ONIONS: Lower heat to medium-low on one side of grill. Place grill basket with onions on part with lower heat. Close lid. Stir every 10 minutes for about 30 minutes or until onions are soft with as much char as you like. Increase heat to get more char if you like. Taste and adjust seasonings. (You can grill something else on the other side of the BBQ at the same time.). Serve warm or at room temperature as a side or condiment.


  1. If you don't have a grill basket, here some options to use instead.
    1. Option 1: Poke holes in the bottom of a tin foil tray (purchased or shaped from tin foil). Make sure you spray it with oil.
    2. Option 2: Use simple cooling rack placed upside down on the grill. Great grill basket hack!
    3. Option 3: Thickly slice the onions, slide a skewer through each slice to hold them together, then grill each side.
    4. Option 4: if you don't have a grill, you can also achieve a pretty good char by using a large cast-iron skillet on the stove top at medium high heat. 
  2. Which onions to use: I like red onions or sweet onions like Vidalia or Walla Walla, but yellow onions would work too. Check out our Onions: The Bare Essential article for which onions to use for which purposes.
  3. How to slice an onion: Cut onion in half from tip to root end. Place onion halves, cut sides down, on cutting board, peel off skin. Slice each half globe thinly from tip to root end. 
  4. Optional seasonings to try:
    1. Add additional seasonings such as smoked paprika or chili powder.
    2. After grilling:
      • Toss the charred onions with a tablespoon of BBQ sauce or Balsamic vinegar at the end of grilling.
      • Toss the grilled onions with chopped fresh or dried herbs such as thyme, oregano or rosemary after grilling.
      • Add a teaspoon of oil or butter at the end.
  5. Make ahead: Either serve the grilled onions at room temperature or warm them for 30-60 seconds in the microwave. I often grill meat or chicken beside them on the gas grill as it's easy to adjust the grill at different settings if needed.
Nutrition values are estimates. 
Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 148mg | Potassium: 80mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg