The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cannot make tasty onion bread- what's the secret?

Graid's picture

Cannot make tasty onion bread- what's the secret?

I have general problems (which I shall probably elaborate on at some point) making bread that has much in the way of the taste, however, one particular sort of bread that has infuritatingly eluded me more than others, even, has been onion bread.

Onion bread or onion bagels I buy from the store have a rather lovely, rich flavour, with deep brown flecks of onion type substance through them.

I have tried several times to make onion bread, and never yet succeeded in making it taste anything like the tasty variety from stores.

I have tried simply filling the dough with uncooked onions- this results in a loaf that tastes of baked onions in a watery, extremely weak sort of way.

I have also tried using onion granules- that resulted in a bizarre tasting, over dense loaf nothing like what I was aiming for.It was also only really weakly onion flavoured.

I have tried using dehyrdated onions rehydrated, but this was only slightly different in results to using raw onion.

The closest I have managed to come to the onion bread flavour I crave was using an onion soup mix I bought in France. However, this still had a distinctly soup like flavour rather than a straight onion bread flavour. And more to the point, onion soup mix is not available in the UK (though I may be able to order it online).

Does anybody have any recommendations on how to make onion bread that actually tastes strongly onion-y and rich. Could anyone possibly recommend a soup mix that is available in the UK for making onion bread?

rick.c's picture

But, I usually use the dehydrated onions.  Rehydrate them in hot water, then use the water in the recipe after it has cooled.  This won't give you browned bits throughout the bread, maybe bake them off after rehydrated until they are brown??  But, using the rehydration liquid is a good idea.


RobynNZ's picture

Norm's Onion Rolls are a favourite on TFL. Read through the threads linked to in Floyd's post for ideas and encouragement.

pmccool's picture

lightly saute the chopped onion in a bit of olive oil.  The pieces should at least get to the translucent stage.  If you want a more caramelized look/flavor, you can cook them longer to your desired degree of darkness.

Advantage #1: the cooking drives off some of the moisture in the onions, which means they don't mess up the bread texture.

Advantage #2: flavor.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

in a small kitchen machine or blender, then add as powder with the flour?  It can be done to the roasted dried onions as well.  If there isn't enough onion to get the mixer to powder it, try adding a tablespoon or two of the flour in the recipe being careful not to overheat the mixture.

kosan44's picture

I simply dice any sweet onion ,, a couple cups worth,, coat them with oil and salt and cracked pepper,, spread them out on a sheet pan ,,and toast them under the broiler at lowest broiler setting keeping an eye on them mixing and turning as needed being careful not to burn them,, you want them slightly brown but not dried out,,let them come to room temp. (two cups of raw onion equal about 3/4 c toasted) I like kneading them into the dough just before the first rise,, a slow rise in fridge works best for a better onion flavor,, then shape and let rise again and bake,, i usualy shape into oblong buns 6 buns per 9x13 pan makes nice large sandwich rolls,,i know i havent gave a recipe,, but this works with most,,,but my favorite , a basic potato bread recipe,,


Graid's picture

Thanks folks, some good suggestions here. I already tried using the onion water when I made it with rehydrated onions- I didn't find it very flavoursome done that way. They weren't roasted dehydrated onions though, just ordinary ones. I find that the rehydrated onions taste rather watery- they are milder by far than raw onions in flavour.

I shall try tomorrow to fry the onions before adding them, that is something I have not tried yet.

Kosan- you say 'toast under a broiler', I'm from the UK, I am wondering now if that is the same thing as putting them under the grill! I am guessing so from the description.


kolobezka's picture

I just use a raw coarsely chopped onion. A small one (about 60g / 500g flour) is enough. Soometimes you must slightly reduce the amount of water in the recipe. The baked loaf smells and tastes perfect!

kosan44's picture

yes graid, heat is over the pan,,this work better than frying,, it seems to remove more moister with out getting gummy in dough,,plus the toasted flavor is great, specially if you use a slow rise, good luck


Graid's picture

I tried the method of frying the onions in a little oil yesterday, and it helped quite a bit- much nicer than just putting the onions in raw. The loaf seemed to absorb more of the onion flavour instead of the flavour just being in the onion pieces. Probably my most successful onion loaf to date!

I shall try toasting them next time and see if that improves things any.



aweekes's picture

I regularly make the onion and cheese bread (from the soft bread section?) from Artisan Bread Every Day. It is far and away the most popular bread that I make, and a loaf diappears in minutes when we have guests. I simply use about a cup of raw diced onion in the initial, pre-rise batter, being careful to measure carefully to keep the moisture levels right. The baking smell alone is worth the effort. It is almost unfair to make this bread, as it gets such a high ooo ahhh rating.

rftsr's picture

I've had great luck in toasting dried onion flakes at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes until caramel brown. This gives the most intense onion flavor I've tried. I love to toast walnuts at the same time for my favorite Walnut Onion Bread.

Graid's picture

Hrmm.. when you say toasting, do you mean under a grill (UK term, but this has a heating element above the things you're cooking) or in an oven? 

And did you reconstitute them with water before toasting them or just put them in dried? I'm curious to try this but I am not quite sure on the method.

rftsr's picture

Just put plain, store bought, dried onion flakes (not rehydrated) in an oven at about 350F for 10 minutes until light brown. Watch them carefully as they can burn easily. This really does bring out the onion flavor.

Graid's picture

Thank you! I shall try this.

Graid's picture

Thanks very much for the suggetion about the toasted flakes- I tried that and not only did it taste very strongly of onion, it also had those same golden brown flecks of onion througout that the onion bread I love has. Looked and tasted like the ones I was attempting to emulate!

Thank you! I now have the secret of onion bread :)

A warning to anyone else doing this though- some of my onion flakes burned within about 4 minutes of being in the oven. You really need to watch them the entire time! 10 minutes and they'd have probably all been black.

rftsr's picture

So glad it worked out for you. You've inspired me to make Toasted Onion Multigrain Sourdough this weekend with walnuts and fresh rosemary. Better get that starter out and bubbling tonight. Cheers!

SylviaH's picture

'try fresh shallots', in this recipe if you like onion breads, not only is it lovely to look at, it is also, mouthwatering, full of flavor from a great combo of the Shallots, poppyseed, parmesan cheese 'the cheese addition is so delicious', the flavors  just chime in together, all tucked into a sourdough challah.  I love onions and I've made bread with store purchased and homemade dried onions..IMHO none surpassed the flavor I had when I used this RECIPE.




brenig12's picture

Deap fry some finely sliced shallot or onion till lightly coloured and drain on kitchen paper. Add these and a packet of dried onion soup mix to your bread recipe. Enjoy. 

LovesToCook's picture

I add the following to a simple classic white bread recipie.  Warm milk, and then cold butter after the initial mixing.
1/4 c finely minced white onion

2T Dehydrated onion flakes

1t toasted onion granules from Penzeys

I do adjust the water slightly, but it's more by touch than measure.  The layers of flavor you get from the different types of onions are the key to great onion bread.
The toasted onion granules give it the depth you're missing, without adding the soupy taste. 

hairer's picture

Slice the onions into thin stripes, then shallow-fry them with some salt. Half-way through, add some brown sugar (not too much) to give it a more intense flavour. This way, you don't have to use any dehydrated / artificial onions. Most of the water will evaporate in the process, so it shouldn't get soggy either. We just tried it this week-end and it worked great...

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

Go to Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and make the New York Style Deli Rye bread and add 1/4-1/3 cups dried onion flakes and you will have a caraway onion rye bread.  I increase the salt to 2 Tbsp. and the caraway seeds to 2 Tbsp. and I reduce the flour to 5 1/4th., but, these are just my preferences, not errors in the text.

Stu B.