Onions are one of the most aromatic veggies that we usually have in our pantry. There are so many recipes where onions are a must. So you may look for an onion substitute for a number of reasons:
If you have allergies from onions you’d better refer to alternatives.
There are cases when your pantry is empty but you do need onions for your everyday dishes.
In case you don’t like its smell but your recipe definitely calls for it then choose one of these replacements.
Another reason for substituting it is that onions make your eyes itch, burn, and water as you chop them off.
Onion tastes sweet and savory at the same time, that’s why it is widely used in different dishes. It is used both raw and in cooked dishes and tends to provide meals with a better taste and flavor.
Onions are juicy and crunchy when used raw. Once they are cooked or caramelized they lose this taste and become soft and sweet.
So, let’s take a look at some of the best substitutes to use in all cases.
Best Onion Substitutes
1. Onion Powder, Onion Flakes or Onion Juice
Whether you have onion powder, onion flakes or onion juice you can always consider them as excellent substitutes for onions.
They are perfect in case you don’t have fresh ones or don’t want to cut off an onion. This way you’ll also avoid the crunchiness of onion if you don’t like it too. Compared to fresh onion they offer a subtler flavor.
As for the onion juice, it is used with dishes that require the juiciness of onions.
You can use them almost in all cooked dishes as a means of seasoning. Onion powder is the dehydrated, ground onion. You can purchase them from common stores. Onion flakes are made of dehydrated, chopped onions. You can buy them from grocery stores from the spice and herb section. Onion juice is sold in bottles and you can find them in common stores too.
Scallion also known as green onion or spring onion is another type of onion with a milder flavor. It is basically used as a topping but you can use it in cooked dishes too. It goes well with salads, sauces, stir-fries and soups.
Scallions come with thick leaves and bulbs both of which can be used in dishes. While the bulb has a more oniony taste, the leaves come both with onion and grassy tastes.
If you don’t have allergies from the veggies originating from Allium genus, then scallions can serve as amazing substitutes for onions. On the other hand, fresh scallions are a good option of all onions for sauces and as dressing before serving the dish.
Chives are similar to scallions: they are often sprinkled over dishes. If you use them in small quantities then you’ll get a mild flavor. If used more, you will achieve a garlic-like taste. Chives work well in salads, soups, potato dishes, eggs and omelets.
Chives sometimes come with flowers which are good for garnishing and salads. They are great to use both fresh and raw.
When cooked, they become soft and lose their taste. So, avoid cooking chives if you want to maintain their onion-garlic taste. Thanks to their fresh green color, they are ideal to mix with sour cream and other white sauces.
4. Chinese Onion
Chinese onion is an evergreen vegetable with white crispy bulbs, long green leaves and small purple flowers. It looks like scallions and chives and comes with similar flavors. So, you can use it instead of onion both raw and cooked.
Chinese onion is also used in grills, marinates, stir-fries and soups. This type of onion is used in long-cooked dishes such as beef stew and braised duck leg.
Shallots look like onions but they come with a sweeter flavor. They come with golden brown, gray and red shades.
Shallots can substitute onions in salads and vinaigrettes as well as in slow-cooked dishes such as roasted or braised meats. Its sweetness mixed with the onion-y flavor will enhance the taste of your dish without making it taste unpleasant.
Leeks are other types of onions with white bulbs and leafy green ends. They ideally substitute cooked onion. They offer an onion-and garlic flavor which is milder than the flavor of regular onion.
Leeks have a hard crunchy texture. Before using them in dishes you may slice them into tiny pieces and then cook or add as a topping. There are many dishes that work well with leeks. You can choose them for fries, braised and roasted meals.
Choose garlic if you don’t have any of the above-mentioned types of onions. Garlic and onion belong to the same family which means they can substitute one another in many dishes.
If you like the flavor and smell of garlic then you can safely use it in recipes that call for onion. Depending on the dish and on your preferences you can use either more or less garlic.
Asafetida has a strong and pungent aroma. It can substitute onions especially in diets that forbid alliums like onion and garlic.
Asafoetida may provide a kind of onion-garlic flavor to your dish if used in small amounts. It best goes with curries, stews, and vegan dishes. You can also combine it with eggs, cheese dishes, fish and in salads as a topping.
You may be surprised to see this plant between onion alternatives because fennel is a member of the carrot family. Fennel bulbs look like onions and they have a mild sweet taste combined with licorice and aniseed flavors.
The best thing about fennel is that every part of it can be used in cooking. You can replace it with onion, especially in cooked dishes. Raw fennel has a strong licorice flavor. Soups and stews made with fennel taste delicious and have that mild onion-y flavor.
10. Fresh Peppers
There are several types of peppers between which you can find good substitutes for onions. For example sweet bell peppers that come in yellow, green and red colors can sometimes replace onion in grilled, fried and roasted dishes as well as in raw salads.
They will also add color to your meals and make them look tastier. This way you will also provide your dish with crunshiness without using onions. In case you are a fan of spicy dishes you can use hot peppers as other good alternatives to onions in salads, soups and sauces.
FAQs on Onions
Can I substitute yellow onion for red onion?
Yes, you can use yellow onions to substitute red onions. They are often used interchangeably.
Can you substitute red onion for white onion?
If the color doesn’t matter, then yes: you can use red onion to replace white onion. They are also used interchangeably both in raw and cooked dishes.
What seasoning can replace onions?
There are several forms of onion to use instead of fresh onions. You can find matching spices and seasonings as well and the most popular options between them are as follows: onion powder, onion flakes, onion salt and garlic powder.
What are the disadvantages of onions?
While onion is a good food, it has some disadvantages that make us run away from it. First, it makes us cry. Second, it has a strong smell that seems to stay in our mouth for a long time after eating it. Third, onions can cause allergic symptoms like red and itchy eyes, itchy rash and dermatitis, runny nose and even asthma.
Luckily there are different ways to substitute onions in any dish and your choice is quite wide. Starting from common spices to fresh plants and onion-like foods, you can easily find a good onion substitute for raw and cooked meals. Sometimes it may all depend on your taste and preferences, and if you think that your dish goes well with several substitutes then listen to your heart before choosing one of them instead of onions.