How To Tell If An Onion Is Bad: Some Simple Kitchen Tips

Onions are among the most crucial spices in any recipes that we prepare today. Without this ingredient, your dishes will never be as good as they are supposed to be. This is the reason why people always use onions, especially with food preparation.

Therefore, you will need to know the shelf life of an onion. Does it go bad? And if it does, how long does this take? Is there a way to know if an onion is bad already? Well, these are some important questions that I will address one by one. Read this short article to find out the surprising answers to these queries. 


How Long Do Onions Last?

The Lifespan Of An Onion

Most of the onions you can purchase in the market today don’t come with a best before date label. If there is a label, it is a lot easier. Therefore, you should stick to the date you bought the onions to estimate its current quality.

I always do this procedure every time I go to our local market. I make sure that I remember the date that I acquired the onion. Usually, the onion suppliers of our town market deliver fresh goods. Therefore, I am quite confident that the onions and ingredients that I get are newly picked.

If we are talking about freshly harvested onions, their natural lifespan is around one month. But some you can extend some up to six weeks to two months, especially if you store them in your refrigerator. Check the list below to gauge the shelf life of onions.

  • Fresh Onions (whole bulb) – 4 to 6 weeks on the kitchen counter; 1 to 2 months in the refrigerator.
  • Chopped Onions (fresh) – 1 week in the refrigerator.
  • Whole Scallion – 1 to 2 days on the kitchen counter; 1 to 2 week in the refrigerator.
  • Frozen Onions – 6 to 8 months in the freezer.

As you can see, an onion’s average lifespan is not that high, so they do not last long compared to other spices and vegetables, especially if they are not stored properly. Therefore, I always recommend that you practice proper preparation and storage to keep the quality of your food fresh and safe.

How To Tell If An Onion Is Bad

Of course, as a person who spends a lot of time in the kitchen, it is pretty essential that you know how to assess the lifespan of your ingredients. For spices that are as sensitive as onions, this skill is necessary or you might cook a bad onion.

There are several indicators to test the freshness of an onion. Typically, you should start by looking at tits physical characteristics. If you notice black or brown spots, then it is in bad shape already. Remember that fresh onions are firm, so if you can find any soft spots, the onion might be nearing its expiry date.

These soft areas are where mold is growing. If you don’t remove this, it will make the onion uneatable. Also, make sure you use that onion as soon as possible, as there is a good chance it won’t last another day.

There is no need to remind you about the health risks of using spoiled ingredients. I always make sure that the ingredients I buy in the market are fresh and avoid any with a suspicious appearance and texture or an unwanted, pungent smell. 

Proper Storage Of Onions

Good storage of the ingredients will safely extend their lifespan. Put your onions in a dark, dry compartment. The air circulation should be great too. In addition, do not use plastic bags and other containers without an opening as they create moisture, which is not good for onions.

However, if the onions are peeled, you should put them in a closed container and then in your refrigerator. You can refer to the list above to estimate their lifespan that are inside the refrigerator.

Some people like to freeze their onions. This does extend the latter’s lifespan effectively but I would not resort to this, as I don’t like the taste of frozen onions at all. They became bland and their usual aroma dissipates. 


Fresh onions are an ideal ingredients for many recipes. They produce a unique aroma and add taste to any cuisine. Apart from this, they also possess a high nutritional content that will benefit your body.

Learning how to tell if your onions are bad or not is an essential kitchen skill. Otherwise, you might cook an onion that is going off, and that is not safe or healthy at all.

Moreover, I always emphasize the importance of proper hygiene and etiquette in the kitchen to my readers. Although these are just basic hygiene regimens, they can make your food preparation convenient and less prone to detriments that can cause food poisoning. For example, washing your hands and the application of the correct cooking temperatures both make a huge difference. They are your safety net against many foodborne illnesses.

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