Types of Onions: Varieties of Onions and How to Use Them (Including Pictures)

The different shapes and sizes of onions, as well as their numerous tastes and scents, may be utilized to enhance any recipe. The three primary onion types are common yellow, red, and white onions. Scallions, leeks, and shallots are some of the most common onion types in the kitchen. Despite the fact that onions are a pungent vegetable used in cooking, there are several sweet varieties that you can consume raw.

Onions are used in a variety of recipes. To add depth to a dish, various degrees of sharper-tasting yellow onions may be gently cooked to highlight their natural flavor. In salads and salsas, mild sweeter onions offer a fresh flavorful texture. Pickling requires tiny, sweet onions with a pearl onion being the most common. You’ll learn about several sorts of onions and how to utilize them in this article. You’ll also discover what separates one onion variety from the next.

Types of Onions (With Pictures and Names)

The genus Allium includes onions, and the botanical name for them is Allium cepa. They are a kind of bulbous vegetable. Garlic, leeks, chives, and Chinese onions are all part of the Allium genus and are related to onions. The pungent odor of onions is due to a variety of sulfur compounds. Also, cutting onions fresh causes tears in the eyes because of their pungent nature.

The hollow tubular green leaves of all onions are edible raw and may be eaten by all types. The green leaves of spring onions (scallions), for example, are included in several recipes. You can cook, bake, grill, fry, braise, and pickle all types of onions in fact. Let’s look at some particular types of onions that you may employ in the kitchen now that we have a better understanding of onions in general.

Yellow Onions

Yellow onions (Allium cepa) have a rich, papery brown-yellow skin and are one of the most prevalent types of onions in the world. A light-yellow or white flesh can be seen through the pale-yellow skin of the onion. Yellow onions have little juice because of their dry nature.

The high levels of sulfur in yellow onions contribute to their strong flavor. Yellow onions and most other onions varieties are high in antioxidants, in addition to containing sulfur compounds. Because of its sweetness intensifies as it caramelizes, this yellow onion variety is especially suitable for frying and sautéing.

You should generally use yellow onions when a recipe asks you to add chopped or sliced onions to the dish. French onion soup is also made with yellow onions. If kept in dark places at room temperature, yellow onions will store well throughout the year.

Spanish Onions

Spanish onions are a kind of huge yellow onion with a mild flavor that is widely used for frying, adding to stews, or making soups. Spanish onions are often less spicy than common yellow onions, which is one of the reasons why they are popular. They may also be somewhat sweeter, and some individuals find them more palatable when eaten raw.

If you’re frying onion rings or want to top a hamburger, the wide range of Spanish onions makes them an excellent option. Spanish onions have a wide culinary use, similar to other yellow onion varieties.

Red Onions

Red onions have white and red onion rings and a milder flavor than some other types of onions. Because red onions have a milder flavor than some other types of onions, they are frequently used raw in salads or lightly cooked foods. Raw yellow onions, for example, have a more intense flavor than red/purple onion types. Red onions, like Spanish onions, turn sweeter when roasted.

The red pigments in the onion are actually antioxidants, not poisons. As compared to white and yellow onions, red onions have the most health-protective compounds. Additionally, they contain more antioxidant quercetin than garlic or white onions.

Torpedo red onions

Torpedo onions are classified as a small to medium-sized kind of onion with elongated red and white bulbs. The papery red and white skin that covers the bulb is covered with juicy, mild-tasting flesh. The red torpedo onion is a well-known red onion variety in Italy. The mild sweet flavor of these onions isn’t too overwhelming, and they’re delicious both raw and roasted. Onion chutney, pizza, pasta sauces, and stews are all great ways to use this onion variety.

White Onions

White onions have white papery skin and white mild meat. They are a huge sort of onion with a mild flavor. White onions retain a strong flavor despite having a high sugar level comparable to red onions. If you want a sharp-flavored onion that is still mild and sweet, these are a good type to use.

Mexican and Latin American recipes frequently include white onions. White onions are a good onion to use if the recipe specifies raw onions because of their relatively mild flavor. To give the onions a milder taste, you can slice them and lightly pickle them in vinegar before rinsing.

Sweet Onions

Due to their mild flavor and absence of pungent onion flavor, sweet onions are one of the most popular types of onion cultivars. Sweeter onion cultivars have been developed to have a sweeter rather than sharp flavor, and they aren’t a particular sort of onion. Sweet onions are juicier and have a lower sulfur content than yellow or white onions. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most delicious sweet onions.

Walla Walla onions

Walla Walla onions are a sweet onion with a mild flavor that was developed in Washington State. Several yellow onion cultivars have a bulb shape. This, on the other hand, is a far more sweet onion than yellow. You may also buy sweet white onion types, in addition to yellow Walla Walla onions. Sweet onions are a popular raw ingredient in sandwiches, burgers, and dips for many people.

Vidalia onions

The Vidalia onion has a flattened globular form and light-yellow, practically white skin and is one of the sweetest types of onion. The white, tender flesh of Vidalia onions is surrounded by thin rings. Vidalia onions typically top the list when it comes to finding a moderately sweet onion.

They are one of the sweetest onion varieties you can buy because to their high sugar and low sulfur content. These versatile onions aren’t just good to eat raw, they’re also good for cooking! Lightly frying them, roasting them, or grilling them can all help to increase their sweetness. They’re also a fantastic addition to recipes that need onions.

Mayan sweet onions

Mayan onions are a type of super-sweet onion with a flattened globular form comparable to Vidalia onions. Mayan onions are delicious when raw. Sweet onions from Peru do not produce the pungent odors that yellow or white onions do. Their skins are light brown, with a globe-like or flattened bulb.

Bermuda onions

Bermuda onions are a sweet onion with a spherical flat form and an extremely sweet flavor that is rounded. According to reports, Bermuda onions are the forerunner of all US sweet onion cultivars.

Texas Supersweet onions

Texas Supersweet onions are a sweet onion cultivar, as the name implies. This jumbo-sized Texas onion has light yellowish skin and is comparable to other sweet onions. The white succulent meat is excellent raw since it is sweet and tangy at the same time.


When eaten raw or cooked, shallots are a kind of tiny onion with papery yellow, red, or gold skin and a sweet crisp flavor. Shallot onions, like garlic, are clusters of cloves that grow similar to garlic. Between 2 and 6 cloves grow beneath the skin depending on the size of the shallot onion. Because it has hints of garlic and a milder onion flavor, this type of oblong onion is popular in cooking.

The crimson veins on the pale transparent meat of shallot onions. According to various instructions, shallots that have been chopped or sliced are often utilized. Their flavor is milder but richer since they aren’t as hot as powerful-flavored yellow onions. It’s possible to get confused about the kind of onion that shallots refer to.

Several nations in the Southern Hemisphere refer to shallots as scallions (spring onions). In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s referred to as a sort of onion that creates garlic clove clusters.

Cipollini Onions

The Cipollini onion is a popular kind of small round flat onion in Italy. The pungent aroma and somewhat sweet flavor of this beige-skinned onion variety. Roasted or fried, on the other hand, they really sweeten up. Outside of Italy, Cipollini is a type of onion that is gaining popularity.

Roasting whole onions or caramelizing them is a good option because of the tiny size of the onion. Because it lacks bitterness when cooked, this type of onion can also be used for creaming.

Pearl Onions

Pearl onions are a delightfully crunchy and sweet variety of onion that is perfect for pickling. Button onions, baby onions, and creamers are all different names for pearl onions. Pearl onions are a cultivar of Allium ampeloprasum, which means they are more akin to leeks than ordinary onions.

Pearl onions have firm white flesh and are normally only approximately 1/4″ to 1/2″ (2-3 cm) broad. Pearl onions lack the strong scent and razor-sharp flavor of ordinary onions. A thin white skin surrounds the little onion bulbs. You can also purchase red pearl onions, which have a somewhat milder flavor than white pearl onions.

Pickling onions prefer pearl (button) onions. Because of their small size, you may pickle whole onions without chopping them up. Cook whole button onions in stews or sauté them with other vegetables as another method of utilizing them in cooking. Pearl onions are the finest sort of cocktail onion because of their size.

Cocktail Onions

Cocktail onions may be any kind of tiny sweet onion that has been pickled. Cocktail onions are usually made by infusing spices like paprika or turmeric into pickling liquid. The pearl onion is one of the most popular varieties of sweet onions for cocktails. Because of its sweet crunchy texture and absence of pungent odors, it will not taint the flavor of mixed drinks.

White Bermuda, Crystal Wax, and tiny red sweet onions are some additional varieties of onions that make excellent cocktail onions. These onions are grown tightly packed together to prevent them from growing too large, ensuring that they are kept small enough for a cocktail glass.

Scallions (Spring Onions)

Scallions are a mild-flavored kind of onion that belong to the Allium genus and are sometimes known as spring onions or green onions. Spring onions or green onions are another name for scallions.

Scallions’ lengthy green hollow leaves are the most common way to utilize them in cooking. Salads, salsas, and stir-fries frequently include chopped scallion leaves. They aren’t overpoweringly onion-smelling, but they do add a little sharpness to foods. Several recipes include scallion bulbs. They’re sliced like shallots or other mild onion varieties, then fried in the same manner. Spring onion bulbs, like red onions, may be chopped and eaten raw. They are similar to other mild onion types.

Ramps, sometimes known as Tennessee truffles (Allium tricoccum), are a North American variety of “spring onion. The edible stems of this kind of leafy onion are crimson, and the leaves are long. Ramps have a flavor comparable to garlic when eaten raw, but become sweeter after being cooked.

Ramp is a wild onion that can be found across Canada and the United States.


Leeks are a kind of onion that is somewhat softer and less pungent than regular onions, with a bundle of leaf sheaths securely bound together. These gigantic vegetables, which belong to the onion family, may reach 10 inches (25 cm) in height and 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter.

Like onions and cloves, leeks (Allium ampeloprasum) don’t generate bulbs. The leaf sheaths of leeks are tightly bundled together and make up the edible root. Leeks have a transparent white coloration to the portion that develops underground. Further up the sheath, this gradually turns to dark green.

Depending on how you like your onion-tasting vegetable, you can use leeks raw or cooked. Green leek sheaths may be chopped and added to fresh salads if you wish. In many soups and stews, chopped leeks are a common ingredient. Cooking leeks softens their hard crunch while also improving the flavor. Sauté leeks and toss them into pies or savory tarts, too.

Welsh Onion

The Welsh Onion (Allium fistulosum) is a bunching onion that resembles spring onions in appearance and flavor. The Welsh onion bears no relation to the nation of Wales, despite its name. This onion looks a lot like scallions and has a tiny white bulb that spouts tubular hollow leaves.

Because of their size, some bigger Welsh onion types can resemble leeks. Salads, soups, and as a serving for Japanese and Korean meals all include Welsh onion green leaves.

Chinese onion

Chinese scallion, Japanese scallion, rakkyo, and oriental onion are all terms used to describe Chinese onions. It has small purple flowers that bloom in the spring. It has white bulb, green stalks. Both the bulbs and their stalks may be cooked or raw. Chinese scallion, Japanese scallion, rakkyo, and oriental onion are all terms used to describe Chinese onion. It’s frequently pickled and served with other dishes.


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