It’s so true that onion is the most useful vegetable you can have in your kitchen. Learn how to dehydrate onions in a safe way to help yourself create amazing yummy dishes. 

Also check out How to Make Onion Powder!

Dehydrating is a great way to save money and stock the spice cabinet for months or years. Also, dehydrated onions can be rehydrated, which can turn out like fresh onions, or you can grind them in powder to complement many dishes.

In that way, you can stock up on onions and save storage space simultaneously.  

Why should I dry onions?

Even though you can keep onions in a cool and dark place or store them in cold storage, you can also freeze onions.

If you are a homesteader, you know how essential it is to keep the freezer space. I have never frozen onions as the freezer space is very important for me to keep other foods.

Here is why you should dehydrate onions:

  • Keeps all the flavors. 
  • Keeps their beautiful color. 
  • They’ll last forever in an airtight container in a cool and dark place. 
  • Easy to store and doesn’t take too much space. 
  • You can make them into powder using a food processor. 
  •  There are a million ways to add them to your recipes to make them savory and flavorful. 

Dried onion flakes in a spoon, yellow onions, basil on wooden board background from above

Health benefits of onions:

All vegetables are beneficial to health, but some have particular advantages, and one of them is onions. Numerous vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant chemicals found in onions have been proved to support health in various ways.

Onions’ healing powers have been known since the dawn of time when people utilized them to treat conditions including migraines, heart illness, and mouth sores.

The taste of onions can be anything from mild and sweet to harsh and spicy. Here are some onion health benefits you should know:

1. High antioxidant compounds:

The plant compounds flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, are abundant in onions.

These substances may defend against long-term diseases, including cancer and diabetes, when ingested frequently and appropriately. 

Onions are one of the richest sources of flavonoids in our diets and contain over 25 different types. Sulfur-containing chemicals found in onions have also been shown to have anticancer properties.

2. Supports heart health:

Quercetin, one of the flavonoids found in onions, is known to have anti-inflammatory and protective properties.

Along with other healthy components found in onions, it may play a role in the vegetable’s heart-friendly features.

According to studies, eating onions may help reduce your heart disease risk by reducing inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

3. Boosts bone health:

Eating onions have been linked to increased bone density. This might result from the onion’s antioxidant qualities, which lessen oxidative stress and slow bone loss.

According to a study on the impact on postmenopausal women, eating onions frequently lowers the incidence of hip fracture.

Another study on women in their middle years found that consuming onion juice increased bone density and decreased bone loss.

4. Support gut health:

The non-digestible fiber necessary to maintain intestinal health is rich in onions. Although we are unable to digest prebiotic fiber, the bacteria that reside in our gut can, and they use it as fuel to multiply and make short-chain fatty acids as a byproduct (SCFAs). 

According to research, these SCFAs are crucial for preserving the gut’s health and integrity as well as for boosting our immune and digestion.

5. They are antibacterial:

Studies show that onions offer valuable antibacterial qualities against bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus, which are used in traditional medicine to treat coughs, colds, and catarrh. 

Furthermore, the older, preserved varieties seem to be the most effective onions. Because it has the ability to stop the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Helicobacter pylori, it appears quercetin is useful here once more (MRSA).

Dried onion flakes in a spoon, yellow onions, basil on wooden board background

Tips for not crying while cutting onions:

There is no crying in cooking foods unless you are cutting onions. It’s a loyal vegetable that stays in almost every cooking of yours. Why do we feel crying when we cut onions? 

It’s because when you are cutting onions, it breaks irritating compounds like microscopic cells of enzymes that turn into volatile gasses.

In that way, your eyes produce tears to flush the gas away from your eyes. Here are some ways to cut onions without crying:

  • Try to wear kitchen goggles to protect your eyes from the irritating gas.
  • Try cutting onion beside an open flame like a candle will do the trick. It is believed that flame can take out the gas. 
  • You can place the onions in the refrigerator to cool down a little bit as it will minimize the amount of gas released into the air. 
  • Try cutting the root of the onion later as it has a higher amount of enzymes there. 
  • You can use quick kitchen tools to do the work, like an onion cutter or food processor will do the work. 
  • Try chewing some mint gum because this method helps you breathe from your mouth so the gas won’t reach your nose. The mint flavor also helps to counter the burning sensation.   

How to prepare onions for drying:

Peel out the onion skins, trim out the ends and use a sharp knife to slice out the pieces evenly. You can alternatively use a mandolin to get even slices.

The thinner you will get the slices, the most likely they will dry out faster. Try doing ¼ to ⅛ inch at the thickest slices. You can also use a food processor slicing blade to speed up the slicing process. 

The onions can be any shape you prefer as long as they are all similar in shape and size so that they will dehydrate evenly.

You can cut them into rings, chunks, slices, or whatever is the easiest. Just keep the pieces large enough so that they do not fall out from the screen of the dehydrator or oven rack.  

Drying onions in the dehydrator:

In a single tray, lay the freshly prepared onions, make sure not to overlap too much, and start dehydrating at 66C/150F.

Dry them for 6-8 hours if the humidity around is 80% or 4 to 6 hours if the humidity is lower than that. Make sure to check them from time to time so that they don’t try to bend and are ready when they snap. 

Drying onions in the oven:

Spread the prepared onions on parchment-lined baking sheets, and make sure not to overlap the pieces of onions too much.

Set the temperature at the lowest between 130-150F if possible. If your oven doesn’t go lower, use a wooden spoon to prop open the door. It will allow better airflow and fumes to escape as the onion dehydrates. 

Check the onions every hour and flip the onions sometimes to let them dry faster. Take it out from the oven when it snaps or bends a little bit. Once it’s cool, completely store them. 

Air drying onions:

Put the onions slices on a large kitchen towel or parchment-lined baking paper and leave them in a well-ventilated area to get proper air circulation; if possible, keep them near a window. 

This option is ideal for warmer, less humid climates with lots of proper sunshine. A colder or more humid climate will affect drying time. Make sure to clean the area where you are placing the onions.  

Try flipping onions a few times to speed up the process. Depending on the thickness, climate, and humidity, this procedure may take a few days to dehydrate the onions properly.

You will see the onions will completely dry; that’s when they are ready.  

Tips for drying onions:

  • Only prepare a batch of onions you will be able to dehydrate in one load. Onions tend to degrade quality once they are cut, so you should cut the onions when you are ready to dry them. 
  • To dry them evenly, it’s preferable to cut them at the same size. Use a mandoline, food chopper, or a food processor to cut the onions evenly. 
  • Drying onions can release some irritating fumes, so try to use a ventilator when dehydrating. Or, you can dehydrate the onions outside or in the garage to eliminate strong gas inside your house. 

How to make onion powder from dried onions? 

Making onion powder is easy as it takes dehydrated onion flakes to the next level. To prepare this, you will need a coffee grinder to blend the onions properly.

A normal blender or food processor can not handle this task properly. Simply add the onion flakes to the grinder and process them until they become powder. 

Add this powder to vegetable powder, mix it with seasoning, or store them separately in an airtight container. Sometimes, I am unable to add all the vegetables to my dishes.

That is why this onion powdered version is quite effective in mixing some nutrients and adding flavors to my dish.  

homemade onion powder in a bottle and sprinkled on a wooden surface

You should only powder onions as much as you require to prepare a dish for a month or two. Sometimes, storing onion powders for more than two months can cause clumping issues.

So, only store as much as you need to use in your food. You can also use arrowroot powder to help prevent onion powder from clumping. 

More fresh produce tips:

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