It’s simple to learn how to peel pearl onions the easy way!

Pearl onions are sweet little jewels of the allium family, and they are great in almost any recipe calling for onions from beef stew to creamed onions (or even added to creamed peas). They can also stand on their own as a savory side dish or as a garnish in a variety of cocktails. Because of their small size, they can be time-consuming to prepare, but here are a few ways to make peeling these beauties a snap!

close up of baskets of pearl onions to show How to Peel Pearl Onions

What are Pearl Onions?

Also known as baby, button onions, or creamers, pearl onions are bright white and covered in layers of paper-thin skins. Sometimes they can be found in red and yellow varieties, too.

About the size of a cherry, pearl onions are found in the produce section, either sold separately by the pound or in mesh bags. They can also be found in the frozen section, already peeled.

These are no cry onions, too! Pearl onions are mild and sweet which makes them a perfect addition to recipes or an elegant garnish for a Classic Martini or arranged on an Antipasto Platter.

top view of onions in a bowl and cutting board to show How to Peel Pearl Onions

How to Pick the Best Pearl Onions

Look for fresh pearl onions with the skins intact so they are protecting the onion inside. Choose pearl onions that are whole, dry, and free of any blemishes or soft spots.

How to Peel Pearl Onions

  • The best way to peel pearl onions, especially if they’ll be cooked, is to blanch them in boiling water for about 1 minute. Remove them with a slotted spoon and plunge them into an ice water bath until they are cool enough to handle. This will make the skins easily peel off!
  • For another quick method of peeling pearl onions, place them in a small bowl and microwave for 20 or 30 seconds. The onions will be warm but easy to handle and the peels will slip right off.
  • The fastest way of peeling pearl onions without using the boiled method is just like peeling the skin from a clove of garlic. Cut the root end of the pearl onion with a paring knife and then press from the top. The onion should slip out easily. If not, cut a larger piece from the root end.

adding onions to boiling water to show How to Peel Pearl Onions

How to Store Pearl Onions

Just like regular onions or potatoes, store pearl onions in a cool, dry space. Check out this primer on How to Store Onions, Garlic & Potatoes.

Pearl Onion Dishes and Sides

Cook pearl onions on their own or add them to casseroles, salads, or between meats and veggies on skewers!

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peeled onions in a bowl with a title to show How to Peel Pearl Onions
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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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