We don’t think there’s anything more delicious than a fresh onion atop a juicy burger fresh off the grill.
But did you know that there’s actually a correct type of onion that will make the flavor even more prominent and enjoyable? So what exactly are the best onions for burgers?
The best onions for burgers are the yellow or white kinds because they add neutral flavors without overpowering any other ingredient on the burger or your pallet.
You can use red onions, sweet onions, green onions, or honestly any other onion you want, but they may not taste as well as a yellow or white onion.
If you want to know exactly how to choose the right onion for your burger and how to match them with other ingredients you may be using, then keep reading.
Best Onion For Burgers
You should keep in mind that the onions listed below are a fantastic addition to just about any burger. If you want to enhance your culinary skills even more, you can focus on the flavor of each individual onion type.
All of these onions have unique characteristics. Some work better when cooked one way and others work well when paired with another onion.
1. Yellow and Brown Onions – Best Overall
Depending on where you live, they can be called yellow, brown, or all-purpose onions. They’re almost always used on burgers and the most common type of onion to exist.
They’re the perfect all-purpose onion and will certainly work as an acceptable substitute for other onions. If you’re starting out with flavor experimentation, this is what you should start with.
When they’re used raw, they offer the spicy and sharp taste that most onions offer. However, the taste is considered mild compared to other types of onions.
Once you cook them, the flavor is much sweeter and the longer you cook them, the sweeter they get.
We highly suggest cooking them first, whether they’re being sauteed, deep-fried, or caramelized. If they’re raw, it can overwhelm the pallet and it won’t compliment the flavors of the burger well.
However, since they’re the most versatile and neutrally flavored type of onion, they pair well with a variety of spices such as paprika, chili, pepper, and saffron.
The same can be said for herbs such as sage, basil, and rosemary. You can also pair these onions with cucumber, lettuce, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and cabbage.
2. White Onions – Spiciest
If you enjoy a spicy taste in your burger, then we suggest white onions. They’re super crunchy and offer a zing. They’re kind of like brown onions, but with a much more prominent flavor.
They’re new to Western cooking but have been used for years in Mexican and African cooking.
Personally, we don’t suggest using them raw on burgers because of their sharp flavor because it will take the deliciousness away from the other flavors the burger is presenting.
We suggest deep frying them since their high water content gives them a crispy texture and the spiciness is greatly reduced.
These onions pair beautifully with guacamole or Mexican salsa. You can also pair them with the same ingredients as brown onions do, but the spices should be intensified to prevent any clashing with the onions.
3. Red Onions – Mildest
Red onions are also known as purple onions and are best known for their bright purple skin and crunchy white flesh. They have a milder sharp flavor and intense smell.
They are very widely used on burgers and salads. There’s no noticeable sweetness to them and they smell nothing like onions.
They’re best used raw because once you cook them, they lose their flavoring. These onions pair well with just about any spice, herb, veggie, leafy green, sauce, or condiment.
4. Sweet Onion – Sweetest
As the name states, sweet onions are the sweetest of all varieties. They have a higher sugar content that makes them ideal for caramelizing and placing on top of any type of burger.
The interior of the onion looks white, but they’re actually considered to be a yellow onion. They have thick layers and will slice nicely. The flavor isn’t overly sharp or pungent and they’re great when used raw too.
Some common varieties include Maui, Walla Walla, and Vidalia. We suggest that you deep fry the onion to elevate its natural flavors and then place it on your burger.
We also suggest that you don’t use these onions with spicy or strongly flavored ingredients in them.
5. Green Onions – Subtle
Green onions have a subtle flavor to them and are by no means the most common type of onion used on burgers. However, we think that they taste delicious and are a “must try”.
They’re most commonly known as scallions and are most popular in Asian cuisines. They show similar characteristics to spring onions, but they have smaller bulbs.
There’s some spice to the flavor, but they’re soft to chew. The thicker part of the onion has a little bit of a crunch, but the leafier and tinner part is more like a soft herb leaf.
You can sautee these or they can be served raw on your burger. You can’t really deep fry or caramelize them since they will go completely limp. They are a great garnish and pair well with just about any flavor.
6. Shallots – Mild & Sweet
Shallots aren’t generally used on a burger, but it’s worth a try! We use them on burgers and they offer a mild and slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with most ingredients.
You can use them raw, deep-fried, or caramelized. They’re similar to brown onions, but they have a fancier flavor profile.
The Best Oklahoma Onion Burger
How To Use Onions on Burgers
There are a lot of ways you can use onions on burgers. These different cooking methods will change the texture of the onions and the flavor.
One of the most basic and traditional ways to use onion on a burger is to keep it raw. It adds a nice flavor and a refreshing crunch.
Different onions have different flavors and some work better cooked than raw.
Most raw onions will have a spicy flavor with just a little sweetness. The spiciness will be more relative to fresh chives or raw garlic as opposed to chili peppers.
If you don’t like raw onions, you can certainly cook them. The most popular methods include deep frying or caramelizing.
When you saute an onion you’re cooking them until just transparent. This method will sweeten the onion and make them softer if you don’t like crunchy ingredients in your burger.
Deep Fry Them
You can also deep fry your onions. You can dip them in batter or deep fry them raw. Deep frying them raw will maintain the sweetness of the onion whereas batter-fried onions have a different flavor and texture.
It will add an extra crunch and it allows you to add spices to the batter and change the flavor.
Caramelizing onions add an amazing sweetness and saltiness to the onion. They’re great on spicy and salty burgers to help complement and balance the other flavors. It’s definitely one of our favorite ways to put onions on a burger.
Yep, you can certainly use different styles when it comes to placing onions on top of your burger. Here are some of our favorite ways to add onions to a burger.
Adding raw onions to our burgers is our favorite. They add a crisp crunch and a tangy flavor that dances on our tongues.
Sliced onions are simple and classic. It looks the best and makes for a fantastic social media picture. Red onions add a wonderful color.
Slicing onions into rings is one of the riskiest ways to cut an onion, but with a veggie slicer, it’s super simple.
Cutting the onion into whole circular slices is difficult since stacking can make the burger fall apart.
This is why we like to cut our onions into an arc shape. It’s easier to do and easier to stack.
In order to achieve maximum stability, it’s best that you cut with the grain of the onion to release as little compound as possible that’s responsible for the unwanted stinking tears. Cut vertically, not horizontally.
Diced onions are popular for burgers, but they can be messy. When you take a bite, you may find that the diced onions fall out.
If you like diced onions because they’re easier to eat, we suggest adding them to a sauce then placing them on the burger. The sauce will help hold the onions together.
Grated (Great for Smash Burgers)
This isn’t the most traditional way to add onions to a burger, but some people still do it. Grating the onion can leave you with a liquidy mess, so we suggest maybe adding them to a sauce first.
You can also opt to add the grated onions to a smash burger mix for an onion flavoring without putting the onion on top of the burger.
We love grilled onions, but they can be hard to deal with sometimes, especially when doing it on a grill.
The onion rings tend to fall between the grill grates, but you can use a cookie sheet to keep them from falling. You won’t get the grill marks, but the taste is virtually the same.
We don’t always use pickled onions, but they’re a great way to switch up a recipe. Pickled onions are simple to make and we suggest using red onions for it with some wine vinegar, warm water, honey, and salt.
You add these liquids together with the salt and sugar and wait for it to dissolve. Pour the mixture over the onion and put it in the refrigerator for an hour.
We Thought You Would Like
Who would have thought that there were so many types of onions and ways to make them and put them on a burger.
The best onions for burgers are yellow and brown onions since they aren’t very tangy and offer a sweet taste.
However, it’s really up to your personal preference and taste. We enjoy a sweet onion but sometimes opt for something tangy depending on how we made our burgers. Feel free to experiment with the onions to see which ones you enjoy the most.
My name is Keren Tayler. I am a stay-at-home mama to three lovely girls, Sarah + Rachel + Hannah. Prior to becoming a mom, I had a successful career in the accounting field, steps away from becoming a CPA. I decided to give up on my career in order to raise my own kids (as opposed to letting a nanny do it, no judgment here :)) I learned a lot and I love sharing it with other moms. Along the way, I also became a Certified Food Handler.