The difference between onions

I’m talking about yellow vs red vs white, the common grocery store varieties. What’s the difference in flavor, and what are the best uses for each kind? If I’m going to pickle onions I use the red ones, but otherwise I get stuck buying the yellow ones, sometimes the sweet ones but not usually.

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Red-pickled, salads, I soak in cold water for 10-20 mins to remove the sharpness for raw salads.
Yellow-rice dishes, stuffed in whole chicken for roasting, stuffed, my version of inion soup, sauté, stir fry, Egg dishes. I use yellow the most.
White-I freeze 5 mins so I can use them without irritation. Grated in coleslaw, in guac, mostly when I want onion juice in a dish.

I think red is better in raw preparations, maybe milder. I don’t like most yellows raw, but I think they hold up body and flavor better when cooked.

I know this is more than you asked for, but I love this onion guide by Saveur.

More than you wanted to know about onions.


I live here and I’ve never heard of the Siskiyou onion :onion:
Now I’m gonna to have to do some detective :female_detective: work.


The Saveur onion guide has 33 types of onion, but Vidalia is not one of them. Nor does it mention green onions, a.k.a. scallions.


You’re right! I wonder how they decided which ones to take pictures of.

They do mention what I think of as “sweet onions” in the story; the second link

For example

“The fact that onions take their sulfur from the soil explains why certain regions produce sweeter, or milder, onions than others. Vidalias, Texas 1015s, and Mauis do not refer to specific cultivars; they’re all white or red grano or granex types, sweet onion varieties that are grown in, and often named for, regions where the sulfur content of the soil is low. Sweet onions are usually sold fresh for short-term storage; the spicier ones, which tend to contain less juice and therefore have a longer shelf life, are cured and stored.”


" The kind of onions we’re talking about here are bulb onions belonging to Allium cepa , a species that’s been cultivated since ancient times and now is grown around the world. Allium cepa includes scallions, also called green onions; they’re essentially onions that have not yet developed their bulbs. The same species also includes pearl, boiling, and baby onions, which, interestingly, aren’t just smaller varieties (though some have been selected not to get too big) or ones harvested before they’ve matured. They’re Allium cepa sowed in densely planted patches, so that they don’t have room to grow any bigger than large gum balls. Shallots, which can resemble garlic but contain just a couple cloves, are a variety of Allium cepa called ascalonicum ; there’s a larger, sharp flavored variety popular in French cooking and a smaller, sweeter one that’s the allium of choice in southeast Asia…"


Good grief- I have a Saveur subscription. I’m going to have to read more closely. Thanks!


The red onions in restaurant salads are always mild, but when I buy a red onion it is always inedibly sharp. A cold water soak helps a bit, but the slices are still no milder than unsoaked slices of a typical yellow onion. I do not know if this is true, but a produce dept maager once told me that for a sweet, mild red onion, look for a squat one with flat ends.


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