Do Onions Need to Be Refrigerated? (How Should You Store Onions?)

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Do Onions Need to Be Refrigerated?

Onions are a great source of vitamins and minerals. In fact, they are among the healthiest foods in the world. However, there is a lot of confusion about onion storage. Is it okay to refrigerate onions?

No. You don’t need to refrigerate onions. In fact, you should avoid refrigerating them because a refrigerator is too humid and it will spoil the onions faster as compared to an unrefrigerated dry and cool storage area. This is a recommendation for whole onions.

If Your Onions Are Cut or Peeled, Then You Should Definitely Refrigerate Them!

For optimal results, wrap cut or peeled onions in a paper towel or store them in an airtight container or bag. Use them within a week or so. You can also refrigerate mild or sweet onion varieties as they have high water content. You will need to use a low humidity setting for best results.

Do not leave onions out in the open at room temperature for more than 2 hours after cutting. This increases the chance of exposure to bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. Do not wash a whole onion before storing because this could lead to mold growth on the outer layer which can shorten its shelf life dramatically!

Let’s take a deeper look at various circumstances involving the proper storage of onions…


How Long Do Onions Last Unrefrigerated?

Just like garlic, onions have a good shelf life. When stored properly, they can last 2-3 months unrefrigerated. You will need to take certain precautions to ensure long-term storage at room temperature.

Store them on a countertop but keep them away from potatoes as potatoes can excrete moisture that accelerates onions’ decomposition.

  • Storing them away from light is also recommended as this will help ensure that they don’t become bitter.
  • If possible, store onions in the mesh bag they come in, or in a bowl in a dry, cool, ventilated spot in your pantry.
  • Never store them in a bag as onions need air to breathe.

Is it Necessary to Refrigerate Onions?

Refrigeration is not necessary for whole onions. But if they have been peeled or cut, then yes, it is necessary to refrigerate them.

Cut or peeled onions tend to rot very quickly when stored at room temperature. This is because cutting them increases the risk of bacteria growth that leads to faster spoilage.

When refrigerating cut or peeled onions, place them in an airtight container in the fridge. This will decrease moisture absorption and oxidation. Onions can last about 7-10 days in the refrigerator so be sure to use them within a week.


How Should You Store Onions?

The best way to store onions is to keep them whole and place them in a dry, cool, and well-ventilated place, away from light. The ideal temperature for storage is 40-50°F. If onions are exposed to too much light or moisture, they will begin to sprout and rot. Ideal storage areas include a garage, basement, cellar, or pantry.

Don’t keep them in a plastic bag as they need to breathe to stay fresh. Keeping them in a plastic bag will cause moisture to gather and accelerate the rotting process.

Using a woven basket is recommended for onion storage. Onions last longer in seasons or climates that are dry and cool. So, you can expect them to have a shorter shelf life if you live in a warmer climate, even when storing them optimally.


Can You Store Chopped Onions at Room Temperature?

No. Storing chopped onions at room temperature will result in them rotting faster. Chopped or even peeled onions promote bacteria growth, which ultimately causes them to spoil faster at room temperature.

Besides bacteria growth, chopping onions lead to rupturing of the cells that leak moisture and cause spoilage. This occurs faster when onions are unrefrigerated. Not to mention cutting onions also releases more odor. Because of these reasons, you should always store chopped onions in the fridge.


How Do You Store Half an Onion?

The method to store half an onion is quite similar to storing chopped onions. You will need to store them in the fridge. Wrap them in a zipper-lock bag or plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator.

While storing, place the exposed part of the onions directly on the surface of an airtight container and then seal them.

When stored this way, half an onion can last for up to 7-10 days in the refrigerator. Be sure to use them only in cooked applications. Half an onion works fine if cooked but it’s not suitable for raw consumption.


How Do You Keep Onions from Rotting?

It’s all about following the proper storage guidelines. The best place to store onions for the long term is the one that is dry, dark, cool, and well-ventilated. To prevent them from rotting, you will need to keep them out of humidity and store them in temperatures around 40-50°F.

Be sure to keep the onions out of plastic bags and other enclosures that limit ventilation. Instead, store them together in a netted or mesh bag, bamboo steamer, or an open basket to make sure that they can breathe and get lots of fresh air.

To minimize the risk of rotting, darkness is very important, as the absence of sunlight reduces temperature and humidity fluctuations. Last but not least, while they are stored, check and cull the onions often to ensure that they are not sprouting or developing any soft spots.


How Do You Store Onions So They Don’t Smell?

You will need to follow the same guidelines as you would when storing them to minimize the risk of rotting. A dry and cool spot is essential for proper storage and you will also need to make sure that the temperatures are within the ideal range.

Usually, a basement or garage is a good place to store them. Don’t store them in plastic bags. Instead, use mesh so they can breathe.

If you are storing chopped onions in the refrigerator within a container, make sure that the outside of the container is dry and clean. This will help ensure that the onions don’t smell. Using a Ziploc bag or airtight container is recommended. If possible, double-bag the onions in zip-tops to avoid a smell.


In summary, One of the great joys of cooking is chopping an onion. Sure, it might make you cry, but that’s just a small price to pay for the deliciousness that follows.

Whole onions are best stored in a cool, dry, dark, and well-ventilated room. Place them in a basket or open paper bag to ensure good airflow and keep them away from potatoes (which give off moisture and gases that will hasten spoilage).

Peeled onions can be stored in the fridge for 10–14 days, while sliced or cut onions can be refrigerated for 7–10 days.

You may also be interested in… Can You Chop Onions In A Cuisinart? (Chop, Dice, & Slice Onions) and How to Store Eggs Without a Carton?