It is a common mistake for a lot of home cooks to simply reach for a regular onion when they come across a recipe that says onion. After all, an onion is an onion, right?
Well, sort of.
In reality, there are a variety of different types of onions that are better suited for different types of recipes. So, if you want to make sure your dishes turn out as delicious as possible, it is important to know when to use each type of onion. Let’s take a closer look at some of the different types of onions you can find at the grocery store and which one is best for which recipe.
The most common type of onion you’ll find in the grocery store is the yellow onion. It is the most versatile type, and the most widely used in recipes. Yellow onions have a deep, golden-brown color with a tough, papery skin. They are slightly sweet and have a mild flavor with a hint of sharpness.
Yellow onions are great for cooking and are used in a wide variety of dishes, from soups and stews to sautéed vegetables and grilled meats. They are also great for caramelizing and roasting.
White onions are slightly milder and sweeter than yellow onions. They have a pale, white skin and a crisp, white flesh. They are great for cooking, and are often used in Mexican and Latin American dishes. White onions are also great for pickling and canning.
Red onions are slightly sweeter than yellow onions and have a deep purple-red skin. They are slightly crunchier than yellow onions and have a mild, sweet flavor. Red onions are great for raw dishes, such as salads, salsa, and slaws. They are also great for grilling and roasting.
Sweet onions, such as Vidalia and Walla Walla onions, are very mild and sweet. They have a thin, pale yellow skin and a pale yellow-white flesh. Sweet onions are great for adding a sweet flavor to salads and sandwiches, and they are also great for grilling and roasting.
Shallots are small, elongated onions with a mild, sweet flavor. They have a thin, papery skin and a crisp, white flesh. Shallots are great for adding a subtle sweetness to dishes, such as vinaigrettes, sauces, and stews. They are also great for sautéing and roasting.
Scallions, also known as green onions, are mild and slightly sweet. They have a thin, green stalk and a white bulb. Scallions are great for adding a mild onion flavor to dishes, such as salads, soups, and stir-fries. They are also great for sautéing and roasting.
Leek is a mild and sweet onion that looks like a large scallion. They have a white flesh and a mild onion flavor. Leeks are great for adding a subtle onion flavor to dishes, such as soups, casseroles, and quiches. They are also great for sautéing and roasting.
So, when a recipe says onion, what kind should you use? The answer will depend on the dish and your taste preferences. Yellow onions are the most versatile and widely used type of onion, but you can also use white, red, sweet, shallot, scallion, or leek onions depending on the dish.
Remember, with great power comes great responsibility, so use the right type of onion for the right dish and you’ll be sure to have a delicious meal every time. And don’t forget, “when life gives you lemons, make some onion rings!”