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Try these tasty tips for grilling onions

Grilled onions are a key ingredient in this Grilled Potato Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette. (click for larger version)
April 25, 2012 - Here's mouthwatering news for backyard chefs and grill masters who want to add more flavor appeal to their next meal.

When char grilled until tender, onions are a great accompaniment to a burger, brat or other grilled meat — and are so versatile they can be added to sandwiches, pizza or salsa.

With the addition of your fa­vorite sauce, seasoning or fresh chopped herbs, grilled onions also make an easy, satisfying side dish to complement any meal.

To help you get a head start on the season, here are 10 tips for perfectly grilled onions from the National Onion Association:

• Not sure what color of onion to use? Yellows are all purpose, popular as a side dish or for topping steaks, burgers and brats. Reds make colorful kebabs and mixed vegetable sides. White onions are commonly used in Mexican-style barbecue and Southwest dishes.

• For best results, cut onions into at least 1⁄2-inch-thick slices or 1-inch wedges. When cutting wedges, trim the root end, but leave intact to prevent the onion from falling apart.

• A large onion will yield roughly four to six slices or wedges or 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup grilled onions.

• Lightly spray or brush grates with oil before heating up the grill to prevent sticking. Then, brush both sides of the onion slices/wedges with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, a favorite seasoning blend or fresh chopped herbs.

• Grill onions, covered with a foil pan, over medium heat, 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Use tongs and turn onions only one or two times. Covering the onions will help them cook more evenly.

• Worried about onions falling apart or having trouble turning them? Try these ideas:

Cover the grill grates with tinfoil and poke small holes in the foil to allow heat through.

Run wooden or metal skewers through each slice or wedge. Be sure to soak wooden skewers (or toothpicks) in water first to prevent them from burning.

Onions also can be placed in grill baskets or trays or tented in tinfoil.

• Instead of butter or oil, coat onions with honey mustard, balsamic vinegar, barbecue sauce or another dressing to complement other grilled foods.

• Cumin, smoked paprika and chili powder make great seasoning alternatives to salt and pepper.

• Add grilled onions to salsas, relishes and baked beans for a smoky flavor.

• Preparing for a large crowd or have a small grill? Grill onions first, cover and set aside. Reheat prior to serving. This also works great for camping and tailgating.

For more tips and recipes using grilled onions, such as Grilled Potato Salad with Chipotle Vinaigrette, visit

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