California Granulated Onion
Granulated Onion, Allium cepa, is also called onion granules.
Granulated Onion has an essential oil of .01% to .015%.
What Is Granulated Onion
This Granulated Onion is made from dehydrated California grown onions and is used in cooking as a flavor enhancement. Onion is a species in the genus Allium and is closely related to chives, leeks, shallots, and garlic. The process of making Granulated Onion includes dehydrating the vegetable, then milling it through machinery to the desired consistency.
Annual per capita consumption of onions in the U.S. was 12.2 lbs. per person in 1982 and total onion consumption in 2020 was just over 21 lbs. per person, a 72% increase. Just over 90% of all onions consumed in the U.S. are fresh. During the drying process, dehydrated onions go from an initial moisture content of around 86% down to approximately to 7% and it takes 9 lbs. of fresh onions to make 1 lb. of dehydrated onions.
If you leave raw onions uncooked, their flavor will be sharp and pungent, and their texture will be crisp and crunchy. Once cooked, the pungent onion flavor is gone, leaving behind a mild sweetness. During the drying process, they take on a toastier, richer flavor than fresh onions, making them the perfect choice for adding sweet onion flavor to all dishes. Once onions have been dried, their flavor is more intense than fresh.
What Does Granulated Onion Taste Like
A mild onion pungency with hints of sweetness.
Granulated Onion vs Onion Powder
Both Granulated Onion and Onion Powder are made from dehydrated, then ground onions. The primary difference between the two is that Onion Powder has been ground finer.
Use Granulated Onions instead of Onion Powder if your recipe calls for more bulk and thickness. Granulated Onions are often used in spice blends, packaged meats, canned and frozen foods. While Granulated Onions can be added directly to most foods, it is best to rehydrate them before adding to dishes that don't have sufficient amounts of liquid in them, or if you're adding later in the cooking process.
How to Use Granulated Onion
Granulated Onion is the easiest way to add full, fresh onion flavor to your recipe when you do not want the hassle of peeling and chopping onions. These smooth-blending granules are the onion product to choose when you need to give a flavor boost to gravies or roux. It adds onion flavor without adding texture, so this is a great way to sneak onion into everything from sloppy joes to the batter for fried chicken.
Sprinkle it into dips, salad dressings, soups, and stews, or use it to add flavor to bacon, beets, breads, burgers, casseroles, cheese, cream, cucumbers, milk, mushrooms, and vegetables. Does particularly well when used as a base for rubs and marinades.
Dehydrated onion pairs well with basil, cilantro, dill, garlic, mint, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
What Can I Substitute for Granulated Onion
1 Tablespoon Granulated Onion = 1 medium onion or 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder.
Where Is Our Granulated Onion From
History of Onions
People have been eating onions for about as long as there have been people. It is impossible to know exactly when wild onions were first eaten and where; they’re small and organic and, unless they’ve been acted upon by outside forces, completely break down into the soil. They leave minimal material that archaeologists and historians can examine for information1.
There are several schools of thought surrounding the domestication and cultivation of onions. Some social scientists believe that the onion was first domesticated in central Asia, while others think they were first domesticated in what is modern day Iran and West Pakistan, by our Babylonian ancestors. And a third school believes that once wild onions had propagated, they were cultivated simultaneously in several areas of the world2.
This is supported by archaeological evidence. Excavations done on Bronze Age (ca 3300-1200 BC) sites have uncovered the charred remnants of onions in various places around the globe; they’ve been found with date and fig pits in Palestine3 and contemporaneously with garlics and other alliums at sites in China4. China eventually took their understanding of onions a step further, when Han Dynasty-era (206 BC-220 AD) agronomist Fan Sheng Zhi wrote the Fan Sheng Zhi Shu, or “Fan Sheng Zhi’s Manual”. In this book, the author describes how to use onions as a method of alleopathy, or the strategic placement of plants that create plant-to-plant interactions once their proximity incites a release of certain chemicals5. Fan Sheng Zhi suggested interplanting crops like cucumbers and onions, so the onions’ antimicrobial properties could protect the cucumbers from insects and disease.
Formalized cultivation of the onion is, again, difficult to pinpoint, but much is made of the way ancient Egyptians celebrated onions. In Egypt, formal onion cultivation can be traced at least as far back as 3500 B.C. where archaeologists have found paintings of them on the walls of Egyptian structures, pyramids, and tombs, including the flat-roofed, rectangular buildings called mastabas, that were the predecessor of the pyramids6. Onions were used in ordinary meals, celebratory feasts and offerings to the gods. Their multiple layers and concentric circles were symbolic to Egyptians of the afterlife and thus, became part of the Egyptian mummification process. Ramesses IV was buried with small onions placed in his eyes and his nostrils were sheathed in onion skin7.
This unassuming little root vegetable, that can be found in at least 175 countries8 (of which there are 195, total), is a member of the allium, or lily, family. The word “onion” is derived from the Middle English unyun, which came from the French oignon. French, based heavily on Latin, took their word for onion from the Latin word unio, which reflected on the way the layers of the vegetable came together to create a larger item. There are other names for this plant in languages used in antiquity, like Sanskrit, Hebrew, and Greek. These words do not seem to be etymologically related, which tells researchers that onions were a part of various cultures before they intermingled and started borrowing words9.
Closer to home, onions were considered to be an Old World crop but seem to have been a part of the American diet for centuries. Christopher Columbus planted onions in Hispaniola during his landing there in 1494, but Columbus and his crew may have disregarded the native food of Hispaniola; wild onions, with their ability to crop up in unrelated places, may have already been growing there. Pilgrims landing at Plymouth in 1620 said they were surprised to see that wild onions were a firmly established staple of the Native American diet10. General Ulysses S. Grant, during the American Civil War, apparently said, "I will not move my army without onions,” indicating the usefulness of the onion as a supply for a man who had to feed an army. He got what he wanted; he was sent three boxcars full of onions to shore up his rations so he could advance his army and keep them relatively well fed and healthy11.
For a final bit of Americana, it’s fairly common knowledge that the name of the great city of Chicago comes from a Native American word, and a large number of academics agree that “Chicago” is a French-language version of a word from the Algonquian language, spoken by the Great Lakes region Miami-Illinois, or Myaamia, people. While there are those who argue that the word and dialect that Chicago was derived from are not definitively determined, the “official” story behind the name of the city is that it comes from the word shikaakwa, which means either “striped skunk” or “smelly onion.12”
Onions are hardy vegetables that can be grown in just about any soil, but onions that are earmarked for dehydration tend to prefer medium-textured sandy loams. Maintaining good drainage is critical, but it’s important to remember that onions are shallow-rooted so they will not do well in soil that packs very tight. Harder, clay-based soils can impact vigorous root growth13. A friable soil—the kind that tends to crumble easily in one’s fingers—are optimal. A friable sandy loam will hold moisture well, and be loose enough for the onion to be plucked by a mechanical harvester without damaging the roots. Avoid planting in soil that’s got high salinity, since that can affect the onion’s ability to establish itself, particularly if you’re planting from seed, before germination14.
As mentioned, most onions are shallow-rooted, so when they are first planted it’s usually at a minimal depth that’s between one-half and one inch. They are also planted close together; the plants are individually spaced at 4 plants per linear foot, or 3 inches apart, and rows are usually only about 4 inches apart15. Normally, dehydrator onions will be planted between October 5 and November 10. Farmers will irrigate onion seedlings until the point of emergence—when they germinate and first emerge from the ground. This will take approximately 10 days after planting. During germination and emergence, seed must not be allowed to dry out and the soil surface should be kept moist or split bulbs and poor yields will result16.
Onion sets come in two types known as short day and long day varieties, based on the number of hours of daylight required to grow. Short day onion sets only require 10 to 12 hours of daylight per day to grow, and are more suitable for cultivation in southern regions. Short day onions are generally sweeter. Long-day onions require 14+ hours of light in order for bulbs to start growing; they are suitable for northern latitudes17. Most dehydrator onions are "White Creole" derivatives selected for their higher concentration of natural sugar and pungent flavor. These are short day, medium-sized, round bulbs with a translucent white flesh that is very firm18.
To prepare dehydrator onions for harvesting and processing, they are first machine-topped, or have the greens cut off of them. Then they are undercut, or lifted gently from the dirt to loosen the roots. Then they’re laid back down and blanketed with a light layer of soil so they can "cure" for up to 3 weeks before harvesting19. Once curing is complete, the onions are removed from their rows and moved to a sorter that cleans off excessive dirt and debris20. They’re then transported to the processing facility and placed in a warm air tunnel for additional drying. When they’re ready for storage they’re moved to a climate and humidity controlled facility21 until they’re processed into their final products, which can be roasted and ground, or minced, or granulated.
The world's leading producers of dehydrator onions are India, with over 30% share of the global dehydrated onion exports, followed by China, the U.S., Germany, and the United Kingdom. California harvests 75% of all domestic onions cultivated for use as dehydrated onions in the U.S.
|Also Called||Onion granules|
|Recommended Uses||Breads, burgers, casseroles, cheese, cream, cucumbers, dips, mushrooms, salad dressings, soups, stews, and vegetables|
|Flavor Profile||A mild onion pungency with hints of sweetness|
|Oil Content||.01% - .015%|
|Botanical Name||Allium cepa|
|How To Store||Airtight container in a cool, dark place|
|Shelf Life||6-12 months|
|Country of Origin||US|
|Dietary Preferences||Gluten Free, Kosher, Non-GMO|
Hungry For More Information
1. Warren, J. M. (2015). The nature of crops: How we came to eat the plants we do. CABI.
2. National Onion Association. (2019, December 1). Onion history. Onion History. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
3. IATP Editorial Staff. (2007, January 8). Onion. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
4. Guignier, B. (n.d.). Honouring onions. Alimentarium. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
5, 6. Block, E. (2015). Garlic and other alliums: The lore and the science. Royal Society of Chemistry.
7. Global Egyptian Museum Staff. (n.d.). Mummy of Ramesses the fourth. The Global Egyptian Museum | Mummy of Ramesses the Fourth. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
8. Pruszewicz, M. (2015, January 4). Three cheers for the onion. BBC News. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
9. TAMU Editorial Staff. (n.d.). Onions and other pungent lilies. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
10. Mehta, I. (2017). Origin and history of onions. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 22(9), 7–10. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
11. Onionista. (2011, February 25). Onions: To move an army. National Onion Association. Retrieved April 19, 2022, from
12. Chicagology. (2019, March 14). Chicago name origin. Chicagology. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
13, 20. Voss, R. E. (n.d.). Dehydrator bulb onion production in California - UCANR. Dehydrator Bulb Onion Production in California. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
14, 16, 18, 19. Mayberry, K. S. (2000, August). Sample cost to establish and produce onions. U.C. Cooperative extension sample cost to establish and produce onions. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
15, 17, 21. OSU AgSci Staff. (2018, May 11). Onions for dehydration. College of Agricultural Sciences. Retrieved April 19, 2022.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*