Glowing Onions

Don’t let pumpkins have all the fun, get some glow in your other veg!

My daughter left her disco finger-lights in the kitchen next to an onion and lo! The onion light was born. Ridiculously simple, surprisingly pretty.

Step 1: Get Yourself a Pleasingly-shaped Onion

Big ones are best, you’ll get more onion lights out of them. Try asking for ‘pub onions’ in a greengrocers, where I live this got me some of the most mahoosive onions I have ever seen, pubs like them big for mass-catering and super-size onion rings. Mmmm… onions.

Step 2: Slice & Chill

Slice your onion in half as neatly as you can. A scarily-big, sharp knife is best for this.

Leave your onion halves in the fridge overnight, this lets them dry out a bit so you can prise the layers apart and if they’re chilled you’ll cry less! The longer you leave them, the easier they are to separate.

Step 3: Onion Surgery

Use a small sharp knife (I used a craft knife) to score around the root.

Working from the top (what was the leafy end) gently ease the top layer of the onion off. You’ll probably have to discard the top one or two as you need a layer with thick enough sides to glue together, if they’re paper thin they’ll collapse. You might split a few but don’t worry, you’ve got a whole onion to play with!

Step 4: Onion Matching

Once you’ve got a decent layer off one onion half. Prise the matching layer off the other half.

Prop one half on something to stop it rolling about - a cup or an egg box is good.

Slather on plenty of Copydex on the edges of both your onion halves.

Pop them together, lining them up as best you can.

Step 5: Onion Resraint

STEP AWAY FROM A GLUED ONION! Don’t be tempted to wiggle it, just leave it be while the glue dries.

Step 6: A Light Every Layer

Keep prising apart your onion layers for more lights, scoring round the root so you get a nice neat hole at the bottom. Work one by one, separating then glueing each half together. Don’t do all the separating first, it’s too easy to mix them up and end up with fiddly, mis-matching halves.

Step 7: Done?

When the glue looks clear and rubbery, it’ll be done! Copydex works on veg. WHO KNEW!

Other latex glue might work but I've only tried Copydex.

Step 8: Insert Lights

Your onion light is ready to be switched on! Turn on a little LED - I used LEORX LED Balloon Lights - and insert into your onion.

Pop in a wodge of cotton wool or stuffing so the LED doesn’t fall out . Ta da! Look at it’s lovely veiny onion-ness!

Step 9: Hanging Tips

For hanging you can use a long needle and strong thread (button thread is good) - I found a stitch going across the halves first was best - that means you’re crossing the gluey join so the thread doesn’t slice through and slip out. When you’re done, pop a dob of Copydex where the thread goes into the onion and let it dry before hanging, that seems to make them more robust.

You can also glue-on fabric to hang them, leather and muslin seemed to stick well, experiment, go wild, wow everyone with your beautiful biodegradable baubles. “Are they ONIONS?!!!” they will say and you will say. “Why yes, yes they are.” And there will be awed silence and wonder.

Step 10: How Does Your Garden Glow? With Onion Shells and Tearful Smells and Pretty Orbs All in a Row

We filled a whole tree with onion lights at Ulverston’s Candlelit Walk in Cumbria, UK for Halloween 2017. We believe it was a World First. We are very proud of our glowing veg. For 2018 we’re doing glowing eggs because now we know, LEDs belong in kitchens.

Pak Choi also looks great by the way. But it's more expensive than onions here. I tried broad bean pods too but they were a bit thick and less exciting. Please do share any of your glowing veg experiments here or



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    5 Discussions


    1 year ago

    This is such a great idea and I want to make these for my wife’s birthday next week. What did you use to colour them, to keep them translucent?

    1 reply
    Jennie DennettIMightBeDruv

    Reply 1 year ago

    Apologies, only just noticed this comment! I didn't do anything to them, this is just the look of a raw, glowing onion. Hope your wife likes them if you do get a chance to dabble with light-up veg. I did a glowing leek the other day to go on a straw boater hat for a friend's birthday ("there's a leek in the boat-er!") gotta love a veg pun.)


    1 year ago

    Those are actually really pretty :) I wonder if there's a way to mitigate the scent some.

    1 reply
    Jennie DennettSwansong

    Reply 1 year ago

    The smell doesn't last too long thankfully. I made them a week in advance of the Halloween event we made them for and kept them in the fridge, they still smelt onion-y but it really wasn't very noticeable. We did have them outside though rather than in a warm room. I'm doing some for Christmas - I'll let you know the whiff-o-meter rating.