a staple ingredient

The diversity of onions: Types and how we can make the most of them

From sweet to sharp, small to large, onions provide a range of flavors that can enhance any dish

Onions are a widely used in kitchens worldwide due to their distinct flavor and culinary versatility. However, there are different varieties of onions, each with unique taste, texture, and ideal culinary applications.

From sweet to sharp, small to large, onions provide a range of flavors that can enhance any dish. This article will explore the different types of onions and how they can be utilized in various cooking methods.

What can I cook with Yellow Onions?


Yellow onions are among the most commonly used varieties due to their strong flavor and versatility. They have a papery golden-brown skin and white flesh that is tinged with yellow layers. When cooked, they offer a robust taste that becomes sweet and caramelized. Yellow onions are perfect for sautéing, caramelizing, and roasting, adding depth to soups, stews, sauces, and stir-fries.

Cooking Suggestions:

  • To add flavor to sauces and gravies, sauté yellow onions with garlic to create a flavorful base.
  • Thinly slice yellow onions and caramelize them to add sweetness and depth to dishes such as burgers, sandwiches, and French onion soup.
  • For added flavor in roasted dishes, roast chunks of yellow onions alongside meats or vegetables.

What can I cook with Red Onions?


Red onions are famous for their mild, slightly sweet flavor and vibrant purple skin. They are versatile and can be used in raw and cooked dishes, adding a pop of color to salads, sandwiches, and salsas while imparting a subtle onion flavor. When cooked, red onions retain their hue and offer a milder taste than other varieties, making them perfect for grilling, roasting, and pickling.

Cooking Suggestions:

  • Thinly slice red onions and add them to your salads and sandwiches for an extra crunch and color.
  • Roast or grill red onion wedges with vegetables or meats to create a delectable side dish with a sweet and savory flavor.
  • Make a tangy topping for your burgers, tacos, and salads by pickling red onions with vinegar, sugar, and spices.

What can I cook with White Onions?


White onions have a thin, papery white skin and a crisp texture. They are milder in flavor than yellow onions and have a subtle sweetness with a slightly sharp edge. This makes them great for both raw applications and cooking. White onions are commonly used in Latin American cuisine to add freshness to salsas, guacamole, and ceviche. They are also ideal for pickling, frying, and grilling.

Cooking Suggestions:

  • Finely dice white onions to add crunch and flavor to fresh salsa or pico de gallo.
  • Fry sliced white onions until they are golden brown and crispy to use as a topping for burgers, hot dogs, or salads.
  • Grill thick slices of white onions and serve them as a flavorful side dish alongside grilled meats or seafood.

What can I cook with Sweet Onions?

Sweet onions©GettyImages

Sweet onions, such as Vidalia, Walla Walla, and Maui varieties, are highly appreciated for their exceptionally mild and sweet flavor. With a high sugar content and low sulfur compounds, sweet onions lack the sharp bite associated with other types, making them perfect for consuming raw. They taste delicious when sliced thinly and added to sandwiches, salads, and relishes. Moreover, sweet onions can be grilled, roasted, or caramelized to enhance their natural sweetness and flavor.

Cooking Suggestions:

  • To make crispy onion rings or a tasty snack, slice sweet onions into rings and batter them. You can also deep-fry them.
  • Grill thick slices of sweet onions as a caramelized side dish or burger topping.
  • Caramelize sweet onions slowly over low heat for rich, sweet bases in soups, dips, and sauces.
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