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Savory Tweaks: 5 BEST Yellow Onions Substitutes

Do you often find yourself in a dilemma when it comes to finding the right substitute for yellow onions? You are not alone.

This blog will help you explore all the best alternatives for yellow onion, so you can make informed decisions about your cooking.

Let’s get started.

What is Yellow Onion?

Yellow onions are the most common type of onion and a staple in many kitchens.

They are often referred to as “cooking onions” because they add a sweet, intense flavor when cooked that makes them ideal for slow-cooked dishes like stews and soups.

These onions vary in size from about the diameter of your thumb up to more than 5 inches, but all have a yellowish brown skin and a crisp white interior.

Raw yellow onion has assertive flavor that mellows when cooked slowly.

Depending on how you plan to use them, yellow onions can offer both subtlety and depth of flavor — making them incredibly versatile for most recipes.

When shopping for yellow onions, look for firm bulbs with dry roots still attached.

The skin should be brown or golden without many deep bruises or blemishes on it – indicating they have been stored properly in cool air.

Some grocery stores even sell pre-cut cubes which can save you time; just make sure they don’t have any green sprouting inside.

Once you get home, store them in an area with plenty of ventilation (roots down) away from direct sunlight so that they keep their freshness longer.

If cut prior to cooking, cover tightly to prevent moisture loss and leftover odors when stored in the refrigerator.

When cooking with yellow onion, it may take some trial and error for your taste buds if you’re new to the vegetable.

That being said – here are some helpful tips: sauté slices at low heat until very tender; roughly chop cubes before adding to stews; use large chunks when roasting vegetables as bigger pieces tend to yield more intense flavor; and finely dice slivers for adding maximum flavor to quick dishes like soups or stir-fries.

5 Best Yellow Onions Substitutes to Consider

While yellow onions can be replaced with other onions in most recipes, some may be better suited depending on the desired result.

Here are five of the best substitutes for yellow onions:

1 – White Onions

White onions are often used in Mexican and Southwestern U.S. cuisine, but can be used for other purposes as well.

They are distinguished by their yellow or pale white flesh and thin, papery skin.

The taste is more mild and sweet than the yellow onion, with a bit of a sharp bite to it.

They are best to use raw in salads, salsas, guacamole and other dishes where their flavor can shine through without being cooked down too much.

If you do need to cook them, they should be added near the end as they soften quickly with cooking and may become pasty if cooked too long.

2 – Red Onions

Red onions are a great substitute for the mild, sweetness of yellow onions.

They have a slight hint of spiciness and deep, purple-red color that adds visual delight to your dishes.

In addition to being popular as an ingredient in salads, red onions are also great for making sauces and pickles.

They can be grilled or roasted, making them a versatile ingredient in any kitchen.

You can also get red onions in various sizes, from small to large.

Just be sure to slice them thinly if you’re using them raw as they have a stronger flavor than yellow onions.

3 – Sweet Onions

The Sweet onion is an option to consider when you are looking for an alternative to yellow onions.

While they have a slightly more mild flavor than yellow onions, they also have some subtle sweetness that makes them an ideal addition to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.

When cooked, these onions become almost transparent and take on a sweet flavor, making them much better than regular yellow onions for cooking.

As with any onion, if you plan to cook them for a long time, such as for a soup or stew, it’s best to use less of them as they can easily become too soft.

4 – Scallions

Scallions are perhaps most often thought of as a topping or garnish rather than as an ingredient, but they make a wonderful substitute where a milder onion flavor is desired.

Scallions have long green stems and relatively small bulbs, and their flavor is frequently compared to chives.

The stems of scallions can be used in place of chopped yellow onions, while the white bulbs can be substituted for diced or sliced red onions.

Keep in mind that they must be cooked immediately upon being cut to delay spoilage, so be sure to cut them just before throwing them on the heat.

5 – Shallots

Shallots look like a hybrid between garlic and onions but are much sweeter than either one.

They are smaller than yellow onions and yield less per head, so more of them may be needed for the same dish, but shallots lend a mellow flavor to anything they’re cooked with.

Shallots should be used raw or cooked quickly to take advantage of the sweet flavor that develops when heated.

Shallots have a softer texture than yellow onions, which makes them ideal for salads or as part of a cold, crunchy vinaigrette or slaw.

Their sweetness also works well in recipes that require some type of caramelization like onion tarts, French onion soup and quiche.

To get the full benefit from these flavorful vegetables, try grilling or roasting them for an added depth of flavor that can’t be achieved any other way.


Yellow onions are an essential ingredient in a variety of cooking dishes, used especially in Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine.

While yellow onions can easily be replaced with mild white or sweet yellow onions, depending on the recipe, there are a variety of substitutes that can be used to provide texture and flavor to similar kinds of recipes.

Overall, yellow onions are versatile ingredients that can contribute flavor and texture to various recipes.

While milder onion varieties may provide an easier replacement, adventurous cooks may opt for one of the many yellow onion alternatives like shallots or leeks.

Knowing which substitution option is best depending on the desired outcome is just part of the fun of cooking.

5 Best Yellow Onions Substitutes to Consider

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes


  • 1 – White Onions
  • 2 – Red Onions
  • 3 – Sweet Onions
  • 4 – Scallions
  • 5 – Shallots


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
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