These Baked Stuffed Onions make a fantastic dinner recipe that will impress your taste buds. Onions are cooked, stuffed with a spicy rice and ground beef filling and baked in a tomato sauce to perfection. And, you can easily make it vegetarian. 

Stuffed vegetables are one of the classic Turkish foods. We have several versions of them. You should see our stuffed grape leaves, stuffed green peppers, and Turkish stuffed zucchini  too!

Baked stuffed onions in tomato sauce garnished with shopped parsley in a white dish with a spoon inside it.
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Why We Love This Recipe

  • They have an incredibly well-balanced middle eastern flavors. All of the ingredients in this recipe create a seamless balance of savory and sweet flavors.
  • These make a much fancy looking dinner.
  • You can make this recipe ahead of time. Because they can take a while to make, this is the perfect recipe to make ahead of time and they store very well.
  • They make incredible leftovers. You can either store them in the fridge or freeze them for up to three months!
  • They also make a perfect snack or appetizer, but can also be served as an accompaniment or main dish.

About The Ingredients

Purple onions, tomato paste, ground beef, rice, red pepper flakes, dried mint, tomato sauce, black pepper, dried mint, parsley on a dark background.
  • Onions: Use either purple or white onions. We love the color of purple ones when baked, so we prefer them.
  • Meat: We traditionally use ground beef for this recipe, however, you can use any type of ground meat you want. Try some ground lamb, pork, chicken, or even a combination of these meats.
  • Rice: Although there isn’t a strict rule about the type, we love to use Turkish osmancik rice for stuffing veggies. Osmancik rice is a type of long-grain rice that is easy to cook. It is sold as stuffing rice (dolmalık pirinç) or pudding rice (sütlaç pirinci). Short-grain or medium-grain rice works fine too.
  • Spices: We use black pepper, red pepper flakes and dried mint in the filling. You can substitute paprika or sweet chili powder for red pepper flakes. We love using dried mint for all of our dolma, stuffed vegetable recipes, so do not leave it out. It adds an incredibly delicious and refreshing flavor that cannot be matched by any other spice. We even use it in the sauce we pour over stuffed onions when baking.
  • Tomato paste: We use homemade sun-dried tomato paste both in the filling and in the sauce for the richest flavor. Try to use a good quality tomato paste. 
  • Herbs: We only use fresh parsley in the filling but you can add fresh mint and basil too.
  • Olive oil: Use a good quality of olive oil. The quality of olive oil matters especially if you plan to make it vegetarian. We want to feel the flavor of olive oil more when there is no meat in stuffed vegetables. We even serve them with an extra drizzle of olive oil.
  • Optional lemon juice: We sometimes use fresh lemon juice in the filling or serve the dish with a wedge of lemon on the side. If you want to add some sour touch on these, include a lemon in your ingredient list.

Tips

  • It is extremely important to not overcook the rice. When you are making the ground beef and rice filling, do not completely cook the rice. It will continue cooking in the oven when it bakes.
  • When you are preparing the onions, do not cut them in half. You only want to slice them into the center from the top of the onion to the bottom. And don’t worry, the layers will easily separate once they have been boiled.
  • You can cook these stuffed onions in a pan on the stove-top too. You have to add half of the sauce when you start and the remaining sauce later if it’s needed. Make sure to use medium heat to prevent the onions from cooking too fast and burning.
  • These stuffed onions can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days! This means you can easily store any leftovers (if you are lucky enough to have any) or you can make this dish in advance. Alternatively, you can freeze these stuffed onions for 3 months.

FAQs

Are these freezer-friendly?

This delicious stuffed onion recipe is freezer-friendly.  Once the onions have completely cooked, allow them to cool at room temperature. Then, place them inside a freezer-safe container in a single layer.
Make sure to place an airtight lid on the container and even wrap it in some plastic wrap. This will protect the onions from flavoring other frozen foods as they are very pungent. Store the stuffed baked onions in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Can I make them vegetarian?

This recipe can very easily be made into vegetarian stuffed onions with rice. You can substitute the ground beef with some cooked lentils or you can simply leave them out. The filling has enough spices to make an incredibly delicious rice-only filling.

Can I use cooked rice or leftover rice?

You can definitely use leftover rice to add to the filling. Just reduce the baking time of the stuffed onions to make sure that the filling doesn’t overcook.

Can I cook them on the stove instead of the oven?

You can definitely fry these in a pan rather than roast them in an oven. Simply place half of your sauce in the pan with the stuffed onions and allow the mixture to simmer. The onions will continue cooking and caramelizing.

Stuffed purple onions baked in tomato sauce served in a white bowl with a spoon in it.

More Recipes With Onions

More Stuffed Vegetables

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📖 Recipe

Baked Stuffed Onions

Stuffed purple onions baked in tomato sauce garnished with chopped parsley served in a white bowl with a spoon in it.

Onions stuffed with a spicy bulgur and minced meat/ground beef mixture.

  • Author: Zerrin & Yusuf
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: Turkish

Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 

  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

  • ½ pound/225g ground beef

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste 

  • 1 and ½ cup rice 

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper 

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon dried mint

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • ½ cup parsley, chopped

To stuff:

Sauce:

Instructions

Filling:

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat and cook onion until translucent. Add in tomato paste and cook together for a minute.

  • Reduce the heat, add in ground beef. Cook it pressing over it so that there are no blocks left. It will release its juice and then absorb it back. Stir occasionally.

  • Now add in rice and spices. Cook it covered over low heat for 5 minutes. 

  • Remove from heat and add in chopped parsley. 

Prepare Onions and Stuff Them:

  • Peel the onions and cut the tops and bottoms. Then cut them on one side into the center from top to bottom. Don’t cut them in half, just one side. (You can see it in the picture in the content above). 

  • Bring a pot full of water to a boil. Put the onions in the pot and let them cook for 10 minutes or until the onions are tender. Drain and let them cool.

  • When the onions are cool enough, separate out the layers.

  • Preheat the oven at 400F/200C.

  • Put about a tablespoon of filling in each onion layer and wrap it loosely around the filling, leaving some space for the rice to rise. Place them in a baking pan.

Sauce:

  • Combine tomato paste, dried mint, water and olive oil in a bowl. 

  • Pour it over the stuffed onions in the baking pan. 

Bake and Serve:

  • Bake them for 30 minutes, until the top of onions are brown and the sauce is reduced.

  • Remove from heat, let it rest for 15 minutes. Serve with a little sauce and lemon juice(optional) over them.

Notes

  1. When cooking the ground beef and rice filling, don’t try to cook the rice completely. It will cook in the oven later.
  2. When preparing the onions, don’t cut them in half. Just cut one side of each onion into the center from top to bottom. You will easily separate them in layers when they are cooked.

  3. You can cook them in a pan over the stove too. Then start with half of the sauce and add more if needed.

  4. You can keep the leftovers in the refrigerator for 3 days or freeze them for 3 months. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 263
  • Sugar: 8.1 g
  • Sodium: 429.6 mg
  • Fat: 10.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 31 g
  • Protein: 11.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 22.6 mg

Keywords: stuffed onions, stuffed baked onions

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