Everybody is looking to make the ultimate burger, but what if we tell you it is as simple as choosing the correct onion? That’s right!
By simply choosing the correct type of onion, you can enhance the flavor of your accompanying ingredients, add some extra delicious flavor, and create an overall well-balanced flavor profile.
So, what are the best onions for burgers? The best onions for burgers are brown (aka yellow) onions or white onions. These are highly recommended because they will add neutral flavors without overpowering other ingredients.
However, you can also choose red onions, sweet onions, shallows, and green onions to add more unique flavors and make them the star of the show!
If you want to know exactly how to choose the best onions for burgers and how to pair them with other ingredients, then this article is for you!
How To Use Onions On Burgers
Before we look at the many different onions for burgers, let’s have a look at the different ways you can use them.
The different cooking methods will affect the texture of the onions as well as the flavor. In turn, this will affect what you pair the onions with.
The most basic and effortless way to use onions on burgers is by using them raw. Raw onions add their authentic flavor and a crisp refreshing crunch.
Depending on the type of onion you use, you will have a different flavor.
Most raw onions have slightly spicy flavors with hints of sweetness. And no, we don’t mean the spiciness that chili peppers have. The spiciness we are referring to is closer to that of fresh chives or raw garlic.
Then, of course, you can cook the onions too. There are many ways to do this, but the most popular methods are sautéing, deep-frying, or caramelizing.
To sauté onions all you are doing is cooking them slightly or until they are transparent. These add wonderful flavors that are on the sweeter side of the spectrum.
They also have a softer texture so are great if you already have a ton of crunchy ingredients on the burger.
Deep-fried onions can also be made in different ways. You can deep-fry them as is or dip them in a batter. Raw deep-fried onions help add a crispy texture while keeping the sweetness of the onion.
Batter-fried onion on the other hand adds an entirely different flavor and texture. They are extra crunchy, bulky, and you can add a wide variety of spices to the mix as well.
Lastly, we have caramelized onions – one of our favorites. These onions are cooked for a long time so that the sugars caramelize and create a deliciously sweet and salty topping.
They go great with extremely spicy and salty burgers in order to complement and balance out the other flavors.
7 Best Onions For Burgers
So, keep in mind that all of these onions make excellent additions to almost any burger, but to elevate your culinary skills even more, you can focus on the individual flavor of each.
All of these onions do have unique characteristics which work better cooked in one way, or paired in another.
That being said, you can always experiment as much as you want to find new and interesting flavor combinations. That’s what cooking is all about!
1. Yellow And Brown Onions
These are the most common type of onions and are also what is almost always used on burgers. Depending on where you are from, you will sometimes find them labeled as yellow, brown, or all-purpose onions.
As the name suggests, this is the perfect all-purpose onion and will work as a substitute for any other type. It is definitely the onion we recommend starting with if you are experimenting with burger flavors and ingredient combinations.
When used raw, they have that unique spicy sharp taste that most onions have, although it is considered to be mild compared to other species. Once cooked, this flavor becomes much more subdued and the sweeter notes enhance.
Keep in mind that the longer you cook them the sweeter they get. When caramelizing these onions it is important to make sure the flavor balances well with the rest of the burgers’ ingredients.
The onions are great to use on burgers cooked. This can include being sautéed, deep-fried in batter or plain, or caramelized. Their sharp taste could be overwhelming so we wouldn’t recommend using them raw.
Seeing as they are the most versatile and neutrally flavored onion, they pair well with a wide variety of ingredients.
For spices, you can definitely incorporate very potent ones like chili, paprika, pepper, and saffron. The same goes for the herbs, use ones that have very noticeable flavors like sage, basil, and rosemary.
Fresh ingredients that go well with these onions include the typical burger ingredients (cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce) but more surprisingly, they also go well with eggplants, zucchini, bell pepper, and cabbage.
The best types of cheese to use with brown onions are mild cheddar or a strong parmesan.
And finally, for some delicious sauce ideas, try something creamy like a white wine sauce or a mushroom or black pepper sauce.
2. White Onions
White onions have an extremely spicy taste and a very crunchy texture. Think of them like brown onions, but with much more prominent flavors.
These are relatively new onions to Western cooking, but they have been used frequently in Mexican and African cooking for ages.
Because they have a sharper flavor, definitely do not use them raw on burgers. They will completely distract from the other flavors and will leave a sharp taste in your mouth.
White onions should be cooked and we refer to deep frying them as is. Their high water content gives them a very crispy texture when they are shallow or deep-fried. And, while they cook their spiciness reduced considerably.
You can also incorporate these in condiments like guacamole or Mexican salsa.
White onions pair with virtually the same ingredients as brown onions do. You may just want to adjust the intensity of the spices used to prevent a clash of spices.
3. Sweet Onions
As the name suggests, sweet onions are arguably the sweetest of all varieties. Their extra sugar content makes them excellent for caramelizing and using with either spicy or salty burgers.
Common varieties include Vidalia, Walla Walla, or Maui. You can also just look for any variety with “sweet” in the name.
Using them sautéed, in our opinion, would only be wasteful because their unique sweet flavors are not enhanced. Deep-frying definitely elevates the natural flavors and adds the crisp texture they need.
These onions also go great with almost any ingredient, however, we would stay away from spicy ingredients or very strongly flavored ones.
These are very uniquely sweet onions and you want to use them for that reason, so hiding them behind other ingredients is pointless.
You can also make onion jam using these onions and incorporate them into the burger in that way.
4. Red Onions
Red onions, also sometimes called purple onions, are immediately recognized by their bright purple skin and crisp white flesh.
They make a beautiful addition to burgers and gives them a pop of color!
These onions have very mild sharp flavors, no noticeable sweetness, and no pungent onion-like smell. They are definitely best used raw because once they are cooked they almost lose their onion-like flavor.
Raw red onions don’t have a noticeable texture – there is a slight crunch to them, but sometimes they are also on the softer side.
You can try pickling them to add some unique flavors. These are definitely onions that can handle flavor alternations. An excellent pickle would be white vinegar-based with some added fresh herbs.
This is an onion that pairs well with virtually any spice, herb, vegetable, leafy greens, sauce, or condiment. It is a fantastic and neutral all-rounder.
5. Green Onions
These are by no means “common” types of onions used, especially with burgers. However, they are a must-try!
They are also called scallions are extremely popular ingredients in Asian cuisines. These are very similar to spring onions, but they have smaller bulbs and more subtle flavors.
The flavor and texture are very difficult to explain. They have a definitive spiciness to them but have a strangely soft texture.
Thicker parts of the onion have a bit of crunch to them, however, the leafier and thinner part basically has the texture of a soft herb leaf.
Green onions can be used raw or sautéed. They cannot really be deep-fried or caramelized as they just go completely soft.
They make a fantastic ingredient or garnish to any burger and pair well with virtually any flavor, much like red onions do.
Definitely pair them with crunchier ingredients to make up for their lack of crunch.
If you have never worked with shallots before, you are in for a treat. These are onions on the smaller side of things with a longer, more elongated shape – they’re hard to miss!
They have a mild and slightly sweet flavor that works well with almost any ingredient. You can definitely use it raw, deep-fried, or caramelized.
They have very similar characteristics to brown onions, but many people describe them as having a “fancier” flavor profile.
So, if you are making a million-dollar burger, then definitely give these a try!
Believe it or not, but leeks are actually a type of onion! But you wouldn’t necessarily use them in the same way on burgers.
Leeks shouldn’t be used raw, and it would be very difficult to deep fry them, impossible to caramelize them.
The best way to use them on burgers is baked or pan-fried. You can slice the leek in half and fry it in some butter or olive oil to soften it up and give it a crisp side.
While baking them, add some parmesan cheese and spices to add extra flavor.
Leeks can be served with any accompaniment and condiment. They are a fantastic all-rounder that will make your burger very unique.
Ultimate Onion Pairings Chart
Use this handy chart the next time you’re firing up the grill for a gourmet cookout.
|Onion||Spices||Fresh Ingredients||Cheese||Condiments And Other Toppings|
|Yellow Or Brown Onions||Black pepper, Garlic, Thyme, Chili pepper, Cilantro, Parsley, Sage, Cumin, Rosemary, Jalapeno, Garam, Masala, Basil, Paprika, Coriander, Oregano, Dill, Saffron||Bell pepper, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Green cabbage, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Carrots, Corn, Potatoes, Mushroom||Mild cheddar, Strong parmesan||Mushroom sauce, Black pepper sauce, Sauerkraut, White wine sauce, Olives|
|White Onions||Black pepper, Garlic, Thyme, Cilantro, Parsley, Sage, Cumin, Rosemary, Basil, Paprika, Coriander, Oregano, Dill||Bell pepper, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Green cabbage, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Carrots, Corn, Potatoes, Mushroom||Mild cheddar, Mild parmesan||Mushroom sauce, Guacamole, Salsa|
|Sweet Onions||Black pepper, Garlic, Thyme, Parsley, Cumin, Rosemary, Basil, Coriander, Oregano, Dill, Saffron||Zucchini, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Potatoes, Mushroom||Mild cheddar, Mild parmesan, Feta||Onion jam, Béchamel sauce, Mustard|
|Red Onions||Black pepper, Garlic, Thyme, Chili pepper, Cilantro, Parsley, Sage, Cumin, Rosemary, Jalapeno, Garam, Masala, Basil, Paprika, Coriander, Oregano, Dill, Saffron||Bell pepper, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Green cabbage, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Carrots, Corn, Potatoes, Mushroom||Cheddar, Parmesan, Feta, Gouda||Mushroom sauce, Black pepper sauce, Sauerkraut, White wine sauce, Olives, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Mustard, Ketchup, Salsa, Guacamole|
|Green Onions (Scallions)||Black pepper, Garlic, Thyme, Chili pepper, Cilantro, Parsley, Sage, Cumin, Rosemary, Jalapeno, Garam, Masala, Basil, Paprika, Coriander, Oregano, Dill, Saffron||Bell pepper, Tomatoes, Green cabbage, Cucumbers, Carrots||Cheddar, Parmesan, Feta, Gouda||Mushroom sauce, Black pepper sauce, Sauerkraut, White wine sauce, Olives, Sauerkraut, Pickles, Mustard, Ketchup, Salsa, Guacamole|
|Shallots||Cheddar, Parmesan, Feta, Gouda||Mushroom sauce, Black pepper sauce, Sauerkraut, White wine sauce, Dijon mustard, Ketchup, Salsa, Guacamole|
|Leeks||Cheddar, Parmesan, Feta, Gouda||Mushroom sauce, Black pepper sauce, Sauerkraut, White wine sauce, Dijon mustard, Ketchup, Salsa, Guacamole|
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