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How Long Do Onions Last? Can They Go Bad?

Onions have a beautiful aroma and are vital in turning food delicious. You can sauté, deep-fry, bake or use them raw in salads. When not chopped in the right method, onions can make you cry and have a runny nose.

They are available in the supermarkets, food stores, and if you are lucky to live close to a farmer, you can get them directly from the source. Also, since onions planted for subsistence do not take a large space, you can make a kitchen garden and plant them.

There are several types of root onions, but in terms of storage, they have similar requirements. Your storage conditions affect their lifespan. That means you can purchase onions at the same time with a friend and yours go bad faster than theirs.

How long Do Onions Last?


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Onions can be stored in a pantry or a refrigerator. But, you should never keep them in a moist place. Also, chopped onions should not be stored in a pantry.

When using a pantry for storage, make sure it is dark and free of moisture. When these two are present, your onions will start growing. Also, when the humidity is too much, your onions can begin rotting. A dark and dry pantry can keep your onions in good condition for 4-6 weeks.

If you are using a fridge, you can store them in a freezer or a refrigerator. If you opt to store them in the fridge, it is ideal to remove the hardened outer leaves. This helps to keep the onions perfectly refrigerated.

When stored in a fridge, onions have a life expectancy of 1-2 months when kept whole. If you prefer storing them when chopped, you can store them for one week in a refrigerator.

Another way of storing onions is by freezing them. This method of storage keeps your onions fresh the longest. They can remain good for 6-8 months.

We do not recommend freezing chopped onions. They can lose taste and become watery. So, only refrigerate chopped onions or chop them as you use.

Can Onions Go Bad?


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Onion is a root vegetable. It can go bad but not as fast as leafy vegetables. If you keep your onions in a wet area, there is nothing that can stop them from going bad.

Also, if you store them in a faulty refrigerator, honestly, you cannot benefit from this type of storage. Make sure the power source is on and the fridge is cooling what is inside.

If your pantry has other perishable goods, make sure they are not spoilt. Otherwise, they will make your onions go bad too.

How Can You Tell Your Onion Has Gone Bad?

A bad onion means horrible tasting food. To avoid this from happening, check your onions from the pantry once in a while. Imagine taking out your onions late when the groceries are closed! You can end up being very disappointed and be forced to take something you had not planned.

Spoilt onions produce a milk-like fluid when cut. The smell of this fluid is not appealing and reduces the onion’s strong smell. When this happens, know your onion is not suitable for preparing any dish.

You can also check your onion for firmness. Spoilt onions are soft, and when pressed, they form a depression on the surface. Unspoilt onions are firm from the outside, and when pressed, no notable change occurs.

Another notable change in spoiling onions is their colour. The leaf layers start becoming dark, and eventually, the entire onion goes dark. Also, colour-changing can take place in patches. When this happens, you can cut the patched area and use the remaining part.

If your onion starts becoming sunken, it means it is going bad. The onion juices start drying, and after some time, you are left with a dry substance that you cannot use in preparing your meals.

Mould growth is another common sign of food spoilage. Onions are not exempted. When they start developing mould, their skin turns ashy with a grey or white colour on top. And if you touch them, your hands are left looking ashy.

How To Store Onions


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If you are using a pantry, a net is ideal for storing your onions. This storage material is perfect because it allows your onions to have air moving between so they do not sweat.

If you are using a refrigerator, a plastic storage bag is suitable. This bag should be sealable because onions can leave a foul odour in your fridge. Other items stored in your refrigerator can also absorb this smell, and in case of milk, it can end up spoilt.

Chopped onions are covered to ensure they do not dry on top, turn colour, or become watery.

If you have stored your onions in a pantry and realize they have started becoming moist, there is a trick to prevent them from going bad. Of course, we won’t advise you to use them at a go because it is practically impossible.

The trick is to take them outside on a sunny day. All the unnatural moisture dries, and you can keep your onions for another few days. If the moisture does not dry on the first day, repeat the process the following day.

Always remove the hard and dry leaves from your onions before refrigeration. But, when storing them in your pantry, these leaves come in handy in preservation of your onions. They also protect the onions from insect attack.

Is it Okay to Eat Spoilt Onions?

Eating spoilt onion is quite impossible. Spoilt onions have a terrible strong taste that ruins everything they are used in. Even before ingesting, the smell itself is a major turnoff.

But, if the spoilt onion finds its way in your mouth, you won’t like the taste it leaves you with. There are no cases recorded of spoilt onion poisoning. However, avoid using them if you value tasty food and are not a fan of dealing with a bad mouth odour for long.

Related Questions

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Can You Use Onions for Garnishing Food?

Absolutely! Onions make beautiful garnishes and can be used in different forms. Firstly, you can shape them in your desired shape to suit the type of food you intend to garnish.

After making the desired shape, you can use your onions raw, or you can deep fry them to add some colour and crunchiness. Your meals will look delicious and presentable to anyone you want to impress.

How Can You Handle Onions During Preparation?

If you are preparing separate dishes, we recommend using a different chopping board for your onions. That is, if some of the dishes you are preparing are to be eaten raw, they must not be prepared on the same chopping board you use for your onions.

Since onions have a strong smell, they can leave your food with this smell. If you only have one chopping board, rinse it thoroughly before using with other foods.


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When preparing an onion, it is easy to avoid rinsing it because you remove a few layers before chopping. However, we recommend you rinse them so you can get rid of bacteria such as E. Coli which is found in the soil. You should be more careful, especially when the onions are to be consumed raw.

Refrigerated onions are not likely to make you cry when chopping. But, it is common for those stored in the pantry. To prevent crying, soak your onions in cold water for a few minutes before chopping. Don’t worry. They do not absorb water. When you do this, chopping becomes easy and saves you some tears!


Can You Store Onions with Soil After Digging them from Your Garden?

Often, onions are dug when the soil is dry. So, it is hard for them to have soil when harvested. But, if yours have it, it means you have dug them when the ground is still wet. There is no problem with that either.

However, you have to be cautious on the way you handle them. Firstly, you should let the soil dry in an open and warm place that is free from moisture. At this time, your onions get rid of excess water, making them ready for prolonged storage.

When the soil dries, it comes off your onions, and you notice that they also become more firm. In this state, you can go ahead and store them in your pantry, refrigerator, or the freezer.

What Happens When You Store Onions in a Plastic Package in the Pantry?

When you use this package to store your onions in the pantry, it shortens their lifespan. The temperature inside the package rises and since the package is sealed, it does not cool.

As a result, your onions start sweating and after a short while, rot sets in. By the time you open your onions, you will find water inside the package, and most of them have gone bad.

Has your loved one brought you many onions and are wondering what to do with them to prevent spoilage? You have a solution. If you have a refrigerator, freeze them.

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