How to Saute Onions in a Microwave

How to Saute Onions in a MicrowaveI love sauteing my onions over high heat in some oil or butter. They always come out with their natural sugars, soft and golden brown in colour.

Often, I would saute my onions on a skillet, but then I came across a microwaving method that is easier and faster.

Here is how to saute onions in a microwave.

Peel the onions and cut them into halves. Chop them from top to bottom uniformly. Place the chopped pieces into a microwavable bowl. Drizzle oil over the chopped onions and cover the bowl with a lid. Add some coarse salt and microwave at high power for 5 to 7 minutes. Toss the onions over and microwave them uncovered for another 2 to 3 minutes.

This article explains how to Saute Onions in a Microwave, among other related topics like How to Serve Sauteed Onions, Are Caramelized Onions Similar to Sauteed Onions, and How to Caramelize Onions in the Microwave

The step-to-step Procedure of Sauteing Onions in the Microwave

Below are the requirements and a simple procedure to guide you through sauteing onions in the microwave.


  • Microwavable bowl
  • Chopping board
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Cooking oil
  • coarse salt
  • wooden spoon
  • microwavable lid
  • pot holder


1. Prepare the onions for cooking

Begin by peeling the skin of the onions off. Then use your knife and chopping board to cut the onions into halves. Cut the onion uniformly from top to bottom so they can be cooked evenly.

2. Transfer the chopped onions into a microwavable bowl

Ensure the bowl you intend to use is microwavable. Remember, the onions will be sauteed with oils; oil does not get microwaved; the container is heated by the microwave and then transfers the heat to the oil. Therefore using a container that is not microwave safe, maybe dangerous for you and your device.

3. Season the onions

Seasoning does not require much; just a pinch of coarse salt and a drizzle of oil will do. However, if you have other personal seasonings that you would like to add to the onions, then this is the right time to use them. Use your wooden spoon to mix the onion with the added ingredients, and ensure each piece is evenly coated for better results.

4. Cover the bowl

Use a microwavable lid and cover the bowl. Do not just place any lead on the bowl; it should be made of material that can handle microwave heat for several minutes. The lid prevents oil from splattering on the microwaving walls and causing a mess.

5. Microwave the onions

Place the bowl containing the onions in the microwave and heat the onions at high power for 5 to 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, carefully remove the bowl from the microwave; if possible, use a pot holder.

Place the bowl aside, remove the lid and use your wooden spoon to toss over the onions. Return them to the microwave, uncovered. Set another 2 to 3 minutes timer at high power and microwave the onions. The onions will begin to turn brownish, tender, and limp. That is when you know the onions have fully sauteed.

How to Serve Sauteed Onions

How to Saute Onions in a MicrowaveSautéed onions can be served in several ways. You may serve them as a side dish, with grilled cheese, as toppings on a taco, or mix them with other vegetables.

Below is a detailed explanation of how you can serve sautéed onions.

  • Side dish

Sautéed onions can be served as a side dish to main causes like steak, chicken, or pasta.

  • Toppings

You can use your sautéed onions as toppings on black bean tacos or vegan carnitas tacos. You could add some grilled cheese or homemade goat cheese crostini to the onions to enhance their taste and make a crostini.

  • Onion dip

You could also chop your onions so finely and make a caramelized onion dip.

  • You could serve sautéed onions with vegetable

Sautéed onions could be combined with other veggies like mushrooms and pepper. A combination of sautéed onions and mushrooms makes a perfect side dish to steak or vegan dishes. You could also add some pepper to it.

How to Store Leftover Sautéed Onions

How to Saute Onions in a MicrowaveThe best way to store sautéed leftover onion is in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, then placed either in the fridge or freezer. Sautéed onion should not be allowed to stay at room temperature for longer than 2 hours of cooking.

Or else, bacteria causing food-borne illnesses will begin to grow and spread in the onions, especially at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F.

Suppose you pack the onions well in an airtight container or freezer bag; the onions can stay in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. However, the same onions can last for up to 12 months in the freezer.

Suppose you would like to use your frozen sautéed onions, transfer them from the freezer and place them in the fridge overnight. The onions will be thawed the following morning, and you can always scoop the amount you want, microwave, and use. The best thing about this thawing method is that the onions can still survive for 3 to 5 more days in the fridge; you could also refreeze the onions if you wish to.

Other faster methods of thawing frozen onions include defrosting the onions in the microwave for a few seconds or leaving the onions at room temperature for an hour or two. These two methods, however, do not allow you to refreeze your food; they are perfect for when you are ready to consume all the remaining sautéed onions.

Are Caramelized Onions Similar to Sauteed Onions

No, caramelized onions are not similar to sautéed onions. Caramelized onions need to be cooked longer and are browner than sautéed onions. The sauteed onions’ sharp texture and flavor will still be intact after cooking.

Caramelized onions also require more oil or butter since they will cook for longer. The more the onions cook, the more their natural sugars turn them brown hence the sweet and deep flavor. Caramelized onions need to be microwaved over low power for about 10 to 20 minutes until they are soft, mushy, and with a sweet flavor.

Sauteed onions should not be microwaved for too long. They need to be microwaved for at least 7 to 10 minutes for the onions to retain their sharp onion flavor. The onion flavor in sautéed onions is more pronounced than in caramelized onions.

How to Caramelize Onions in the Microwave

How to Saute Onions in a MicrowavePeel the skin of the onions off. Slice the onions vertically, and arrange the pieces in a microwavable bowl.

Pour oil over the onions, use a microwavable lid to cover the onions, and microwave at low power for 10 minutes.

Remove the lid, carefully stir through the onions and microwave again in smaller intervals of one minute until the onions are ready.

When arranging the onions on the microwavable bowl, ensure the pieces have been evenly spread with spaces. Ensure that no onion overlaps the other. Since caramelizing takes longer, the quantity of oil used will be slightly more than the amount used when sautéing onions.

Do not forget to use a lid; let the lid be microwave safe. The lid will prevent the oil from splattering all over after getting in contact with water from the onions. Remove the lid after 10 minutes so that the microwave’s heat will directly contact the onions.

Finally, microwave the onions in smaller intervals to keep tossing them over as you check whether they have been caramelized to your liking. Caramelized onions can be served with dishes like meat, pasta, risotto, sandwiches, and burgers.

You also check on how to melt caramel in microwave.

Faqs On How to Saute Onions in a Microwave

1. How do you saute onions and garlic in the microwave?

To saute onions and garlic, you first begin by peeling off their skins. Followed by chopping the onions and garlic into vertical uniform pieces. Transfer them into a microwavable bowl, add some salt, and drizzle some oil or any other additional seasoning of your choice.

Use a lid to cover the bowl and place it in the microwave. Heat the garlic and the onions for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave, remove the lid, and use a wooden spoon to toss the onions. Return them in the microwave to heat for another 2 to 3 minutes.

2. What happens if you microwave raw onions?

When you microwave raw onions, the water contents in the onion, and the heat from the microwave softens it. If you microwave for longer, the onion begins to turn brown. You may cook them until they are soft or brown, depending on what you want to use the onion for.

3. Can you cook raw onions in the microwave?

Yes, you can cook raw onion in a microwave. You may chop them into smaller pieces or simply cook the whole. Place your onions on a microwavable bowl, sprinkle some oil or butter on them, use a lid to cover the bowl, and microwave for 4 to 7 minutes. For a browner look, you will be required to remove the lid and microwave the onions for 2 to 3 minutes.

4. Can I saute vegetables in the microwave?

Yes, you can saute vegetables in the microwave. However, it depends on the types of vegetable. Most vegetables should not be microwaved for long; they may become too soggy or tender for your liking.

Final thoughts

Sauteeing onions in the microwave may seem tricky for someone who is not used to it. However, the process is easier and much faster than other sautéing methods. What matters is safety measures like using microwavable bowls, lids and making sure you do not over microwave the onions.

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