How to bulk fry your onion perfectly in the oven?

I happened to discover this method of bulk frying onions while preparing for a gathering. It has changed my life forever.

I had planned a traditional Indian menu for a lunch gathering at our home a few weeks ago. As with many of the traditional recipes, these required lots of onions to be fried. Since I had some time margin, I thought about bulk frying my onions in the oven. So if something went wrong I would still have time to go the conventional way. I was surprised to see the results. I would never go back to the stove top bulk frying again.

Bulk frying onion- Oven versus Stove Top

Oven fried onion

After I was successful with the oven frying method, I wanted to do a side by side comparison of oven fried and stove top fried onion. I kept the amount of onion (1 Kg) and oil (60 ml) the same to do a fair comparison.

Here is a detailed video with the comparison that I am sure will interest you.

My findings:

ComparisonOven FriedStove top fried
Fried onion weight263 grams233 grams
Time required1 hour 15 minutes1 hour
Effort neededstirring every 15 minutesstirring every 3-4 minutes
Smelldeep and caramelised,
did not make the clothes and house smell.
caramelised, but a little raw.
Made the clothes and house smell.
Textureseparate strandsmushy and sticky
ColorGoldenBrown

Why bulk fry onion in the oven?

As evident from the results above there are many advantages of bulk frying onion in the oven.

  • It is very convenient. It does not require your constant attention. That means that you can do other tasks while these are being fried in the oven.
  • Keeps your stove top space free. Meaning that you can make other dishes when preparing for a gathering or doing meal prep in the meanwhile.
  • Needs less oil. The oven frying methods need about 30% less oil than the stove top method. Also there is no oil leftover which is otherwise the case with stove top frying.
  • No stinky smell in the house or clothes. Frying onion, especially in bulk can get on your nerves. The whole house doesn’t have to know that you are frying onion. That’s where the oven fried onion wins too.
  • More volume. Oven fried method gives more fried onion as compared to the stove top method. It might have to do with the texture as the stove top onion get soggy if you use less amount of oil.

What points to keep in mind while bulk frying onion?

  • Make sure to slice the onion thinly and evenly. You may take the help of a gadget for slicing onion. Make sure to remove any thick slices before you fry it to ensure even frying.
  • Coat the onion slices thoroughly with salt and oil after putting it on an oven tray.
  • Do not forget to preheat your oven.
  • Remember to stir the onion every 15 minutes to ensure even browning.
  • The frying time may vary from oven to oven. Keep a close eye on the onion, especially towards the end of the process to make sure that you achieve the desired color.
  • Do not overfill your oven tray. If your oven tray cannot accommodate the onion spread in a single layer, do it in batches or use two separate trays. If overfilled, your onion might turn out soggy.
  • Do not increase the temperature initially even when you see no change in color. The first 45 minutes make the onion tender and glossy. The later 30 minutes are for browning.

How to store these onions after frying?

Let the onion cool down to room temperature after frying. Then transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to two weeks. In the freezer, the fried onion could be stored for up to two months.

What to use these fried onion for?

Many of the traditional Indian and Pakistani dishes call for frying a big amount onions. You can use these onion instead for cutting up and frying every time a dish calls for them. This reduces the cooking time considerably and helps quicken the process.

If a dish calls for crispy fried onion (like for garnishing), you may fry these onion for a few more minutes to achieve the desired color and crispiness.

Here are some links for the dishes in which you can use these fried onions:

How to bulk fry onions in an oven perfectly?

Using 30% less oil, you can conveniently bulk fry onion in an oven to perfectly golden strands.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 250 grams

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Kilogram onion (white)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) rapeseed oil (substitute: mustard, canola, sunflower, olive, coconut oil or desi ghee)

Instructions
 

  • Set oven to preheat at 180° Celsius.
  • Peel and slice onion in thin and fine slices.
  • Evenly spread the sliced onion onto the tray in a single layer. If your tray is not big enough to accommodate all the onion, either use 2 trays or do it in batches.
  • Sprinkle salt all over and pour the oil. Using both your hands rub the oil and salt gently onto the onion slices. Make sure that all the onion slices are thoroughly coated.
  • Put the tray into the oven and fry the onion for 45 minutes on 180° Celsius, stirring thoroughly every 15 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes, increase the temperature to 200° Celsius and fry for another 30 minutes, stirring halfway.
  • Once done, take the tray out of the oven and transfer the onion onto another bowl. Let it cool down before you cover it and store it in the fridge.

Notes

  • Since every oven is slightly different in design and efficiency, the frying time may vary. Keep a close eye at the onion towards the last 15 minutes and fry until desired color is achieved.
  • I like to keep my onion rather golden than brown as it works for most of the recipes. If you want to get a browner shade, fry it for a few extra minutes.
  • Stored into an airtight container these keep well for 2 weeks in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer.
  • Make sure to consider the salt in the fried onion and adjust the amount in the recipe you are using it for.
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