Onion Volcano on Blackstone Griddle
The onion volcano or “Flaming Onion” is an entertainment item at popular Teppanyaki and Japanese Hibachi restaurants like Benihana. It involves carefully sliced sections of onion with the rings carefully stacked to make a tapered tower that looks like a volcano. Flammable liquids are then poured through the tiny hole at the summit of the stacked onion volcano and lit with dramatic flair.
When you consider just how many Teppanyaki and Japanese Hibachi dishes can be made on a Blackstone griddle, it only makes sense that backyard chefs would bring the onion volcano to meet the heat of cold-rolled steel.
What Is an Onion Volcano?
An onion volcano, or “Flaming Onion” uses the segments of a large onion, sliced and stacked in a miniature mountain shape, with burning alcohol and oil creating a dancing flame.
It has quickly become an iconic entertainment piece at a lot of popular Teppanyaki and Japanese Hibachi restaurants like Benihana.
How Do You Make an Onion Hibachi Volcano?
The knife work, timing, and the right ingredients are critical for making a successful onion hibachi volcano.
You also need to source a large yellow or white onion with rings that are thick enough to withstand being carefully stacked into the classic volcano shape.
Then you also need to get just the right type of alcohol for careful, yet dramatic ignition on the griddle top.
While you can make an onion volcano on a Blackstone griddle, the same technique can be used on a cast iron pan or griddle on a grill.
If you are new to this, you might want to keep a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case something goes wrong.
If you have a small metal salad tong, you might find it easier to manipulate the onion slices than a spatula, knife, or grill fork.
Ingredients & Tools to Make An Onion Volcano
A large white or yellow onion
A squirt bottle with vegetable or canola oil
A squire bottle with 80 proof vodka
A sharp knife
A grill fork
Salad tongs (Optional)
A stick lighter
Step One: Preheat your griddle on high heat for 10 to 12 minutes.
Step Two: Cut the end off an onion and peel it. Then slice it into thirds lengthwise to create a series of concentric rings.
Step Three: Take one of the onion thirds from one of the end sections and carefully separate the rings. Make sure to keep them in order by size. The section toward the top of the onion tends to be easier to work with than the root section. When you are done the section of onion will look the same, but the rings will be loosened from each other.
Step Four: Discard the center section and keep three to four rings together.
Step Five: Place the reassembled section of onion on the griddle top, with the widest part facing down.
Step Six: Carefully use your grill fork and knife, or salad tongs to take the warming onion sections apart and stack them concentrically on top of each other to create a tiny onion mountain.
Step Seven: Pour a small amount of oil down the mouth of the onion volcano. Immediately follow with roughly the same volume of 80 Proof vodka.
Step Eight: Use the stick lighter to ignite the volcano.
What Alcohol Do You Use in an Onion Volcano?
Vodka is the traditional alcohol used in an onion volcano. Though you can just about any distilled spirit that is at least 80 proof.
What Are the Liquids Hibachi Chefs Use?
80 proof vodka and a type of cooking oil with a high smoke point, like vegetable oil, are typically used to create the flame on an onion volcano.
When combined, the energy-dense hydrocarbons of the oil act as the “Fuel” and the alcohol is the fluid that provides ignition. So, you need both to recreate an onion volcano on a Blackstone griddle.
Should You Make an Onion Volcano on a Blackstone Griddle?
Ideally, you should only make an onion volcano on a Blackstone griddle before placing the food you are cooking or after the entire meal has been cooked.
An onion volcano or “Flaming Onion” is meant to be an entertainment or display piece rather than an edible dish and could alter the flavor of the food you are cooking.
Especially if the 80 Proof alcohol escapes the delicate onion segments and gets onto fish or red meat.
Making an onion volcano on your Blackstone griddle can be a fun way to challenge your cooking skills. It’s also great for entertaining guests who are at the grill side.
Just bear in mind that it will take a fair amount of practice to master.
When you are ready to wow your guests, you need to keep an oil with a high smoke point, and a squirt bottle with 80 Proof vodka on hand.
Use a large white or yellow onion with thick rings, and slice it into three robust sections.
Once you have the segments stacked on the Blackstone griddle, you pour a little oil into the mouth of the onion volcano, followed immediately by the vodka.
Then light it and dazzle everyone around. Just be sure to keep the onion volcano away from any food being cooked, or do it before you start cooking the actual meal.
This will prevent the vodka and other elements from affecting the flavor of the rest of the food.