Onions appear in various dishes around the world, but have you ever thought about the many different types of onions?
They come in diverse varieties, offering unique flavors and kicks to your dishes.
Whether you fry, boil, bake, or roast, there are the perfect onions for those dishes.
Here are 20 types of onion varieties all cooks must know.
- 1. Red Onions
- 2. Sweet Onions
- 3. Shallots
- 4. Spanish Onions
- 5. Yellow Onions
- 6. White Onions
- 7. Walla Walla Onions
- 8. Bermuda Onions
- 9. Chives
- 10. Cipollini Onions
- 11. Cocktail Onions
- 12. Egyptian Onions
- 13. Green Onions
- 14. Leeks
- 15. Maui Onions
- 16. Pearl Onions
- 17. Pickled Onions
- 18. Boiling Onions
- 19. Texas Supa-Sweet Onions
- 20. Welsh Onions
1. Red Onions
Red onions are rich in flavonoids, natural pigments with antioxidant effects.
Red onions are versatile, perfect for roasts, soup, grilled or fried foods, and stew. The inside is white with swirling red lines.
You can eat these onions raw, such as in a salad, tacos, side dishes, or hamburgers.
2. Sweet Onions
Sweet onions are larger than the red ones but less pungent. They have high sugar and water contents and less sulfur, which allows your tongue to perceive the natural sweetness.
You can eat them raw, such as side dishes or salad.
People sometimes confuse shallots with red onions, but they come from different onion plants.
Shallots are usually smaller and closer to garlic than the actual red onions. They are pungent and can trigger tears when you are cutting them.
4. Spanish Onions
Spanish onions are large, sweet onion types that have high moisture content. The skin is light brown while the interior is off-white.
Spanish onions are not pungent, so you can eat them raw. They are great for hamburgers, hot dogs, sliders, and tacos. Spanish onions are also great to make onion rings.
5. Yellow Onions
Yellow onions look a little like Spanish onions from the outside. However, they have lower water and higher sulfur contents, resulting in stronger and more pungent flavor.
Yellow onions are great to add flavors in soup, braises, stews, and kebabs. Yellow onions taste a little sweeter when you caramelize them.
6. White Onions
White onion is a type of small onion similar to garlic. However, it has a really sweet flavor instead of pungent because of its high sugar content.
White onions taste sweeter after you caramelize them. They are great to make salads, stews, casseroles, and Mexican foods.
7. Walla Walla Onions
Walla Walla is a type of heirloom sweet onion from Washington. It looks like a regular Spanish onion, but the size is colossal.
One Walla Walla onion bulb can weigh around 2 pounds (almost 1 kg). This onion has a crisp and sweet flavor, perfect for a sandwich, hamburger, or taco.
8. Bermuda Onions
Bermuda onion is a type of sweet onion from Bermuda and Canary Islands. They used to have only white interior, but now, you can find red and yellow Bermuda onions.
The shape is a little flat on top, unlike many other round sweet onions. Bermuda onions are ideal for grillings, such as in kebabs and BBQ skewers.
Chives are the famous members of the onion family. They have small, white bulbs and long, green stems. Chives have a mild and sweet flavor, with a hint of pungent taste.
A variety called “garlic chive” has garlic-like flavor. Chives have beautiful purple flowers, which you can plant as decorations.
10. Cipollini Onions
Cipollini is a small, sweet onion type from Italy. The onions produce delicious sweetness after caramelized, with a soft texture that melts in your mouth.
Cipollini onions can be roasted or fried with butter. The skin is a little hard to remove cleanly, but you can boil the onions to loosen the skin.
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11. Cocktail Onions
Cocktail onions refer to a specific process of pickling onions with paprika and turmeric in a brine. The results are sweeter, crunchier onions that lose their pungency.
Pearl onions are the most popular types used for this process. However, you can use other sweet onions, including colored ones such as yellow and red.
12. Egyptian Onions
Egyptian onion is another name for tree onion. This type of onion grows mini bulbs on top of their foliage instead of flowers (similar to garlic).
Egyptian onions have strong flavors, and the underground bulbs can be pungent. However, some types of tree onions have a milder, sweeter flavor.
13. Green Onions
Also known as scallions, green onions have white bulbs with green stems. The flavor is mild and slightly sweet, making green onions ideal for salad, soup topping, sandwich, and noodle.
Green onions are considered appetizers in India, either eaten raw or made into chutney. The leaves can also be cooked and served as garnish or topping.
Leeks are related to onions, but they are treated more like vegetables. Leeks have similar tastes to onions, but sweeter and milder.
The pale green and white parts can be eaten raw, but the dark green ones are tough and must be cooked.
Leeks add significant textures and flavors to dishes, such as stir-fry, noodle, omelet, soup, and meat dishes.
15. Maui Onions
Maui onions are sweet onions originally grown on the volcano slopes in Maui Island.
These onions look like regular sweet onions, but with paler skin and slightly elongated shape. They are mild, sweet, and can be consumed raw or cooked. They are great for meat or fish dishes.
16. Pearl Onions
Pearl onions are called “baby buttons” in the UK, because of their small, round shapes.
Pearl onions are very sweet and often used in cocktail drinks. They are great for soup, stews, salad, and casseroles.
17. Pickled Onions
Pickled onions are made of sweet onions, spice mix, chili pepper, sugar, and malt vinegar.
They are great as condiments to eat savory dishes. In the UK, pickled onions are eaten with fish and chips, meat pies, and other savory dishes.
18. Boiling Onions
Boiling onions are small, round onions that have strong flavor in raw forms.
When cooked, the flavor slowly turns milder and sweeter. Boiling onions can have red, white, or yellow skins. They are great for casseroles, soup, or stews.
19. Texas Supa-Sweet Onions
Supa-Sweet is a type of sweet onion from Texas. It has a mild and fresh flavor that makes it great for fresh consumption.
You can slice and eat it with a sandwich, burger, or taco.
20. Welsh Onions
Welsh onions are similar to leeks, with beautiful yellow flowers on top. Despite the name,
Welsh onions are popular in Asian countries, like Japan, Korea, and China. They are used in soup, meat dishes, salad, and stews.
These different types of onions offer unique flavors to various dishes. Understand your onion characteristics before incorporating them in the recipes.