How to Saute Onions in a Microwave (Easy Guide)

Categorized as Microwave Cooking
Saute Onions in a Microwave

You’re standing in your kitchen, eyeing the bag of onions on the counter. You’d like to saute them, but the process of sauteeing onions on the stovetop can be time-consuming, and you’re in a bit of a hurry.

Surely there must be a quicker way to get the job done. That’s when you have a lightbulb moment: why not microwave the onions? After all, microwaves are great for cooking food quickly, so why wouldn’t they work for onions?

In this article, I’ll answer all your questions about microwaving onions plus give you a step-by-step guide on how to do it.

Can You Saute Onions in a Microwave?

The answer is yes, you can saute onions in a microwave. Microwaving onions is actually a pretty common cooking method, especially among home cooks who are short on time.

There are two common methods for cooking onions – sauteing them on the stove top, or cooking them in the microwave. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Stovetop sauteing is the more traditional method, and it allows the onions to caramelize slowly, resulting in a deep, rich flavor. However, this method can be time-consuming, and it requires frequent stirring to prevent burning.

Microwave sauteing is a quicker method that doesn’t require as much attention. However, onions cooked in the microwave tend to retain more of their moisture, resulting in a softer texture.

So which method should you use? It depends on your situation. If you’re looking for maximum flavor, stovetop sauteing is the way to go.

However, if you need them cooked quickly and with minimal effort, for example when you’ve got your burger or pasta dish ready, microwave sauteing may be the better option.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which method works best for your needs.

Is It Safe to Saute Onions in a Microwave?

Are you concerned about the potential dangers of microwaving onions? If so, you’re not alone. Many people believe that microwaving onions can cause them to dry out and lose their flavor. Others believe that microwaving onions can destroy their nutrients.

But is any of this true? Let’s take a closer look at the facts.

The concern that microwaving onions dry them out is actually true – but only if you don’t use any oil. That’s why we recommend using olive oil when microwaving onions. The oil will help keep them moist and prevents them from drying out.

As for the concern that microwaving onions destroys their nutrients, that is untrue. Microwaving onions preserve their nutrients better than cooking them on the stovetop because of the short cooking time.

The third concern that people have is that microwaving onions makes them taste bad. However, this is also not the case. Microwaving onions does not make them taste bad any more than any other cooking method does.

Sure, they might not taste exactly the same as onions that have been cooked on the stovetop, but they will still taste good.

How Long to Saute Onions in a Microwave

The cooking time for microwaving onions will vary depending on the size and type of onion you’re using. But in general, one small or medium onion will take about 3-4 minutes to cook. It’s recommended not to cook more than two onions at a time to make sure the results are consistent.

How to Saute Onions in a Microwave – Step by Step

Now that we’ve answered all your questions about microwaving onions, it’s time to get cooking! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to saute onions in a microwave.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 small or medium red or brown onion
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 15g butter


  1. Chop both ends of the onion but don’t peel it.
  2. Sit the onion upright in a microwave-safe dish and
  3. Place the olive oil and butter on top of the onion.
  4. Cover the dish with a lid or cling film and make sure to pierce a few holes in the top.
  5. Cook on high for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Once the onion is cooked, allow it to cool for a minute before handling.
  7. When it’s cool enough, use a knife and fork to peel off the skin and chop the onion into small pieces.

How to Store and Reheat Sauteed Onions

If you have any leftover sauteed onions, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze them for up to a month.

To reheat, simply place the onions in a microwave-safe dish and cook on high for 1-2 minutes. You can also reheat them in a pan on the stove over medium heat. When you reheat them from frozen, I would recommend thawing them first in the fridge overnight or on the counter for an hour. This is to ensure they heat evenly.

Alternative to Sauteing Onions in the Microwave

Traditionally, sauteed onions are cooked on the stovetop. If you’re not a fan of microwaving your onions, then this is the method you’ll want to use.

Here’s a quick guide on how to saute onions on the stovetop:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to soften.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and lower the heat to medium-low.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and cook for 15 more minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and serve.

As you can see, the stovetop method takes a bit longer than microwaving but it definitely has its own unique flavor. Try out both methods and see which one you prefer!

What Are Sauteed Onions Good With?

Sauteed onions are the perfect topping for just about anything. They add flavor and texture to any dish, and they’re also a great way to get your daily dose of vegetables.

Whether you’re looking for a healthy option for your morning eggs or a flavorful addition to your afternoon salad, sauteed onions are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes.

Here are some of my favorite dishes to make with sauteed onions: omelets, frittatas, quiches, stir-fries, rice dishes, pasta dishes, pizzas, soups, stews, burgers, and more.

So next time you’re in the mood for something delicious, don’t forget to add some sauteed onions to your dish!


Sauteing onions in the microwave is a quick and easy way to add flavor to any dish. And with this step-by-step guide, you’ll be a pro in no time. So what are you waiting for? Give it a try!

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!