Onions – Which Type of Onion Should You Use?

Different onions have different uses. What is the difference between types of onion? Bulb onions, like red, white, sweet, and yellow onions are similar, but have their own individual traits. All onions can be eaten raw, or cooked, but some are better suited for specific culinary uses.

Yellow Onions:

Strongest flavor
Great for soups, stews, roasting, and sauces
Best for long cooking times.
Most popular onion (more than 80% of onions grown are yellow onions…so often economically the best buy)
High in sulphur and sugar content, so best for caramelizing
Also called brown onion

Sweet Onions:

Strong flavor
Great for roasting dishes, frying (onion rings!)
Are generally named for the region they are grown.
Examples include the Vidalia, the Walla Walla, and Bermuda onion.
They are high in sugar, but contain less sulphur than yellow onion.
Good for caramelizing and cooking.
They have a high water content and a relatively shorter shelf-life.
To extend the onion, wrap in a paper towel and store in the refrigerator

Red Onion:

Milder flavor
Best onion for raw applications
Excellent for slicing thin and adding to salads or sandwiches
Great for pickling
Best for Grilling
Lower sugar and sulphur makes them poor for caramelizing

White Onion:

Strong flavor
Great for cooking, and raw uses
Thinner onion layers, crisp
Favored onion for salsas, chutneys, guacamole, and most Latin recipes
Best pizza topping

types of onions

What is the difference in white, yellow, red, and sweet onions?

When buying, choose an onion that is firm, and heavy for its size. Avoid ones that are bruised or showing signs of mold. Store in a well ventilated, dry, cool area. Do not store onions with potatoes–this will reduce their shelf-life. Sweet onion is highest in water content and will spoil more quickly than dryer onions; to extend life, wrap a sweet onion in a paper towel and store in the fridge.

Cut onions when you are ready to use them. Onion flavor intensifies quickly after being cut, and once cut, can become overly strong over a short period (old onions!–blech!)

Nutritionally, onions are awesome. They provide vitamin C and valuable nutrients, are high in fiber, lower the risk of some cancers, promote heart health, and act as an anti-inflammatory. The greatest concentration of nutrition is in the outer layer of the onion, so peel away as little of the onion as possible when using–why waste it?

Here’s one of my favorite ways to use onion! Check out this Pork Tenderloin Recipe with onion.

pork tenderloin

pork tenderloin dinner


Comments

Onions – Which Type of Onion Should You Use? — 2 Comments

  1. Chef Buck: Thanks for the onion video. From an old army chef: First cut off the root end, then the other end. Cut around the onion, maybe an eight of an inch. Remove dry leaves. Then from the root end, always the root end, take your slices. Works double plus good.

  2. I’ve always preferred purple onions on sandwiches, raw, and in salads, but I’ve always wondered which was best for cooking and so on. Thank you for this very informative video, as well as for the chuckles. Loved it! 🙂

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