Episode 109: Thanksgiving Comes Early

Barbecued Onions

Barbecued Onions

One of the reasons I’m so obsessed with smoke is its ability to make ordinary ingredients remarkable, like onions. Stuff a humble onion with bacon and jalapeños, smoke it with hickory, and ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Barbecued onions are a cinch to make and the wow power is off the charts. Feel free to customize the recipe by changing the ingredients in the filling.


More Smoked Thanksgiving Appetizer Recipes:



Barbecued Onions

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Method: Hot smoking
  • Equipment: Bradley digital smoker; maple wood


  • 4 large sweet onions (each 12 to 14 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 strips bacon (preferably artisanal), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slivers
  • 4 jalapeño chiles, seeded and diced (for spicier onions, leave the seeds in)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 1 cup grated cheddar or pepper Jack cheese (optional)

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Peel the onions. Using a sharp paring knife and starting at the top (opposite the stem end), cut an inverted cone-shaped cavity, about 2 inches across and 1 inch deep. (The core will come out in a cone-shaped plug.) Finely chop the pieces you remove from each onion.

Step 2: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet. Add the bacon, chopped onion, and chopped jalapenos and cook over medium heat until lightly browned, 4 minutes. Drain the mixture in a strainer over a bowl. Use the bacon fat to brush the outsides of the onions. Place a spoonful of this mixture in the cavity of each onion. Spoon in some barbecue sauce and place a pat of butter (cut from the remaining butter) on top. The recipe can be prepared several hours ahead to this stage.

Step 3: Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 250 degrees. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.

Step 4: Smoke the onions until browned on the outside and tender, 2 to 3 hours. (Foil the onions the last 1-1/2 hours.) Place the grated cheese on top the last 30 minutes. To test for doneness, pinch the sides of the onion—they should be squeezably soft. Transfer the onions to a platter or plates and dig in!

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Steven Raichlen, a national barbecue treasure and author of The Barbecue! Bible, How to Grill, and other books in the …

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