Are Sprouted Onions Poisonous? Here’s What You Should Know

sprouting onion
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Karolina Grabowska

Sprouted onions are difficult to avoid. Despite proper storage, onions still manage to form green shoots over time. We’ll look at what you can do with sprouting onions.

Many of us have been told at one stage or another that eating sprouted vegetables is dangerous. But is that true for onions with sprouts? The myth that sprouting foods are inedible probably comes from potatoes as they can be poisonous at certain stages of ripeness.

But what if your onions are sprouting? Like sprouted garlic, sprouted onions don’t produce any harmful substances. You don’t need to give any second thought to eating them. 

Sprouting Onions: What to Pay Attention To

Because sprouting onions don’t develop toxic substances, you can use them in the kitchen with no problem. Here’s what you should do if your onions sprout:

  • Use them as soon as possible
  • Sprouting bulbs become soft over time, as the shoot eats away at their structure.
  • Older soft onions begin to smell musty and give dishes an unpleasant aftertaste. Tip: Be sure to smell the onion before using it. Only cook onions that smell fresh and pungent as usual.
  • For older sprouted onions that feel very soft, you’re best off using just the green onion shoots.

Tip: If you’ve got too many onions to use them all up, you can try freezing your onions.

Ways to Use Sprouted Onions

sprouted onions
A tarte flambée is a great way to use up onions that have started to sprout. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Bru-nO)

Sprouted onions are best used for cooking and frying. Due to the lack of crunch, they taste better cooked than raw. They should also be used as soon as you notice them sprouting. Here some recipes that all require cooked or fried onions:

Tip: The young sprouts of onions have a spicy kick. Use them the same way you’d use green onions in dips or in salads.

Planting Sprouted Onions to Grow Your Own

planting sprouted onions
Plant your sprouted onions in terracotta pots on your deck or windowsill for a rustic and earthy look. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Ulrike Leone )

Instead of using them up straight away, you can also plant sprouting onions – they’re the germinated bulb of the onion plant. The green shoots of the onions continue to grow and you can harvest them to add to your dishes.

Growing Onions on the Windowsill

  • Place the sprouting onions in a small bowl filled with water.
  • Change the water daily.
  • Regularly cut off the sprouting greens to use for cooking.

Planting Sprouted Onions in a Flowerpot

  • Fill a flower pot loosely with soil.
  • Make a small hole in the center of the pot with your fingers.
  • Plant the sprouted onion (roots first) in the hole.
  • Add some additional soil to the pot until the bulb is almost completely covered. The tip of the shoot should be peeking out of the soil.
  • Water the freshly planted onion, and continue to water every two to three days
  • Regularly cut off the shoot greens and use them in the kitchen.

This article has been translated and adapted from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Essensmythos: Kann man keimende Zwiebeln essen?

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