Hear Us Out: Onions Belong In Ice Cube Trays

There's no denying that caramelized onions can seriously level up the flavor of whatever dish you add them to. The delectable combination of sweet and savory enhances everything from burgers to pasta. Yet, there's probably just one reason you don't make caramelized onions more often: It takes so long to reach caramelized perfection. If you don't have the patience for caramelizing onions, there are a few ways to make the process less labor-intensive, such as tossing them in the oven or cooking them in the slow cooker (like in our easy overnight caramelized onion recipe). However, you can't rush the process. That's where an unexpected way to use your ice cube tray comes in handy. To have caramelized onions available within minutes, try making a big batch and freezing them in the tray. They freeze very well and are good for about three months, so you'll have caramelized onions ready at a moment's notice going forward.

Make sure your onions are chopped into roughly equal-sized pieces before you caramelize them, because they'll cook more evenly than if you have a sloppy batch with both tiny slivers and massive hunks of onion. That size variety may not be a concern for dishes like pasta sauces or soups that simmer for a while, but uniformity is key when you want to thaw onion quickly for burgers or sandwiches. 

Perfect portions for any recipe

The texture of the onions may be a bit different after freezing and thawing than when they're first out of the pan, and they might potentially turn a bit mushy. However, it's typically not a textural component that caramelized onions are known for bringing to a dish. They're a powerhouse at delivering that intense onion taste, and the thawed version will still add an unmistakable depth of flavor.

Some methods suggest freezing caramelized onions in muffin trays to get a bigger portion, but we're firmly on team ice cube tray because of how versatile the portion size is. Need enough for just a couple of burgers or sandwiches? Easy. Pop out one or two cubes of frozen onions and reheat them in a pan. Dishes that call for a much larger quantity, such as a pasta dish with half a cup of caramelized onions or more, simply require you to grab a handful of cubes instead. Since they've been frozen in such small portions, they'll thaw very quickly.

It's completely fine to just keep them in your ice cube trays, provided they have lids to protect them from freezer burn. However, if you want to put those ice cube trays to use for other kitchen shortcuts, you can remove the onions after they're frozen solid and store them in a larger container or freezer bag.