How to cook onions without oil? (9 easy steps)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “How to cook onions without oil?”, discuss why oil should not be used while cooking onions, and what are some recipes of onions that do not use oil.

How to cook onions without oil?

To cook onion without oil, follow these simple ten steps:

  1. First of all, cut the onion. Trim off the root and stem ends. Cut the onion in half and remove the outer skin. Also, remove the tougher top layer of the onion.
  2. Slice the onion into thin strips. When you get to the end piece, tip it flat and continue to slice.
  3. Now place a large-bottomed saucepan or skillet with a lid over medium heat. When it is hot enough, spread the already prepared onion slices over the bottom and cover with a lid.
  4. Let it cook for 5 minutes without peeking or stirring.
  5. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and lift the onion slices to stir, bringing the cooked ones from the bottom to the top, and letting the top ones settle on the bottom.
  6. Now let it cook for 3 minutes before stirring again
  7. Add splashes of water to deglaze the pan as it dries out.
  8. Continue letting the onions sit for a few minutes and then turning them over for about 15-20 minutes until the onions are cooked.
  9. After 15-20 minutes, taste the onions. To make them sweeter, you can add a teaspoon of vinegar and toss to coat.
  10. Turn off the heat and allow them to sit for a couple of minutes more. Your onions are READY to complement other dishes such as baked potatoes.

Why should oil not be used while cooking onions?

You should preferably not use oil while cooking onions because oil is not a whole food. When an olive, coconut, or seed is pressed to extract oil, it leaves behind fiber and some other important nutrients that the whole plant contains. The refined oil is then high in fat and these monosaturated fats are harmful to the inner lining of your arteries. So this can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Also, oil can become carcinogenic when it reaches high temperatures.

What are some onion recipes that do not use oil?

If you do not want to use oil while cooking onions, here are some recipes that you can ENJOY!

Glazed pearl onions and grapes

To try the glazed pearl onions and grapes recipe, blanch unpeeled pearl onions in boiling water for 2 minutes, and then transfer them to an ice- bath to stop cooking. To a skillet, add sugar, butter, bay leaf, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, vinegar, water to simmer, and onions (peeled). Stir the components until the sugar has dissolved and cover to simmer for 3 minutes. Uncover the skillet and transfer the ingredients to a pre-heated oven (425 Fahrenheit). Roast until liquid has evaporated. Stir in grapes and roast until liquid glazes onions and grapes. Discard bay leaf.

Butter, tomato, and onion sauce

To make a delicious sauce, peel the fresh potatoes and chop them coarsely. Trim both ends of the onion, peel it and cut it in half (lengthwise). 

Place the saucepan over medium heat and add chopped tomatoes, onions, butter, and some salt. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to a slow but steady simmer. Cook while stirring until the tomatoes are no longer watery and the sauce has reduced. The sauce is done when the butter has separated from the tomatoes and there is no remaining liquid.

Hot-pink pearl onion pickles

To a small saucepan, add vinegar, sugar, coriander seeds, tarragon, salt, and mint. Allow the things to boil while stirring to dissolve sugar and salt. Now, reduce heat to simmer, and add onions and beet. Cook while stirring continuously until onions soften slightly. After some time, pluck out and discard the beet, the onions will continue to take on color as they sit. Now, transfer onions and brine to a jar or a non-reactive container to let it cool. Cover and chill at least 2 hours before you SERVE.

French onion soup:

To enjoy a french onion soup, take a nonstick skillet and place it over high heat. Cook onions with continuous stirring until they are soft and caramelized. Add butter and toss onions to coat. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in Calvados. Return the skillet to heat and cook until Calvados is absorbed. Add stock (other components of soup) and bring to a simmer. Simmer until soup is reduced enough. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the soup to ramekins and top with slices of bread and cheese. Place the ramekins in the oven and bake until cheese is bubbly and browned in spots.

Other FAQs about Onions which you may be interested in.

How to skin an onion?

How many days should onion juice be used for hair?

How long do onions last in the fridge?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How to cook onions without oil?”, discussed why oil should not be used while cooking onions, and what are some recipes of onions that do not use oil.