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R-Rated Onions

2 Cups
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Vivian Howard, celebrated chef and part of the Friends of Milk Street network, shares her the recipe for R-Rated Onions - a key component of several dishes found in her latest cookbook, "This Will Make It Taste Good."

Reprinted with permission. "This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking" (Voracious, October 2020).


  • 4-5

    large or 6 to 8medium yellow or white onions

  • 1

    tbsp olive or vegetable oil

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Momela B.

What am I missing? What makes them R-rated?

Lynn C.

Hi Momela -

This is from our friend, Vivian Howard whose cookbook, "This Will Make it Taste Good" features this recipe for R-Rated Onions. According to Vivian, other onions are rated PG, made quickly and lacking in depth. These "R-Rated Onions" go to the danger zone where they are right on the edge of burnt. They are jammy, soft, and sweet. They are dark mahogany brown throughout. They boast a savoriness you can’t get from any other source. And they take at least an hour to make. Hope that helps!

The Milk Street Team

Nancy N.

Can you freeze these in ice cube trays to use on busy nights?

Lynn C.

Hi Nancy -

Yes, absolutely! A great way to use up a batch of onions and store for later.

The Milk Street Team

Jennifer C.

When she says to follow the line root to stem, can I place the onion on its flat cut side and slice vertically, or does that mean I actually need to slice through the root and stem location and cut into wedges?

Lynn C.

Hi Jennifer -

To preserve the texture of onion slices and keep them from breaking down, onions should be sliced pole-to-pole, which won’t rupture the cell walls (Cross-cut slices have more cell walls exposed and break down very quickly to mush). Cut off the root and stem ends and then, to ensure even slices, follow the curve of the onion and slice according to the desired thickness. This video from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt does a good job of illustrating what we mean (slicing comes about 25 seconds into the video).

The Milk Street Team