White - My fav… used for almost everything including chili, pasta sauce, falafel, salsa, guac, and all Mexican recipes, grilled and caramelized, hot dog/burger/sandwich topping, tempura rings, stuffing, meat loaf, soups, stews, marinades/dressings/gravies, and in a pinch anywhere I would use any others if I had them on hand.
Yellow - Never. Just don’t taste as fresh and vibrant as white (but do like Maui when I can get them).
Red - pretty much just salads.
Shallot - Almost never buy these. I get they’re sweeter/milder, but that is not something I am usually looking for.
Scallions - Toppings for baked potato, Asian sauces/toppings/stir fry, garnish/topping, salads, and by themselves with a small pile of table salt. (c;
Interesting. I almost always use yellow for general purposes, not white, and I’m not really sure why other than habit. Red for Indian/SE Asian dishes. Shallots for uses where a milder flavor is called for, or frying/roasting whole. I avoid sweet onions because I find them pointless - I want onions to taste like onions.
Scallions are their own thing, as are leeks. I treat leeks more as a vegetable in their own right than an allium. Love them roasted or as the main veg in a stir fry.
I’m happy to have any as ingredient and frequently probably use the wrong one for the wrong purpose and it’s still fine. I do find scallions versatile tho cooking up white part, using green part as garnish. Less messy and easier to bust out and use.
Really enjoy leeks. Cut small and cooked in brown butter on the side of a steak is living.
Onion rings are my favorite but I don’t cook these at home or mess around with deep frying. Maybe there’s another way that’s good? Maybe not.
I use yellow onions by default too. I grab a red if I need it for a salad, gazpacho, or ceviche and other dishes that really call for red onions. I tend to use shallots for salads, dressing or in mixes with herbs or meats (sauces too). Scallions are a whole different animal for me. Sweet onions I have only used to make Japanese carrot ginger dressing.
I almost never even think of white onions. I think the one time I bought one was because they were out of yellow ones, or the yellow ones looked terrible.
Red mostly just for pizza or Greek salad; yellow for the most cooking applications, unless I use shallots. Only shallots for vinaigrette. Scallions are a whole different animal to me (yes, I know they’re in the allium family) - they’re either sprinkled on top of dishes at the end, or I eat them as a vegetable (a bed of them steamed in the MW, with salmon resting on top). Chives are more for sprinkling or dressings, too.
My favorite kind to use is red, but for some reason organic red onions are no longer available in a bag, or even individually, on a regular basis as of the last year.
Second is yellow.
Like @kobuta I had never used a white onion until recently when I needed an onion, there were no red onions, and the yellow ones were half rotten. I found them blah – and they didn’t caramelize in the way I needed them to, so I won’t be buying them again (unless the exact same situation of need recurs).
Shallots for specific things, as also scallions – I don’t thin of either as “onions” in a general use sense.
I usually have a bag of yellow onions and use them for most recipes calling for onion. I buy and use white onions when called for, and red onions for salad, (green and chicken, egg, tuna) pizza and quick-pickled onion slices.
I also usually have shallots. Great for dressings, pan sauces and when I just need a bit of onion.
I buy leeks for soups and the leek tart from Classic German Baking.
I never buy, use or eat scallions or chives. I liked scallions as a kid, but can’t stand them now, green or white parts. I pick them out like some do with cilantro. Ridiculous, I know.
I don’t like raw onions–I only eat them cooked. So the nuances that they may have raw aren’t a factor for me.
Yellow is my go-to, all-purpose onion. Costco sells these super large ones (about the size of a softball) and when I was cooking large batches of chili, spaghetti sauce, caramelized onion etc. these worked great. Now that I cook for just one or two, I just buy the smaller ones.
All the others I only use if a recipe calls for them, though I do like to keep some shallots around for pan sauces.
What ever came of the ‘torpedo’ onions we used to buy ? I assume they were grown tin California. I thought they were a Bermuda, but now all I see in the store is ‘red onion’. As a kid we had them on chip beef (Ranch Hand brand) sandwiches; they were red, sweet and thinly sliced. Those were my favorite. Onion rings made with Walla Wallas are pretty tasty. Especially with a smoked paprika aioli or that ranch style salad dressing sauce. I like my home grown French shallots, especially when I can harvest them BEFORE the rodents haul them off. More garden to table sob stories.
Yellow is also my go to, at least for cooked recipes. That idea was reinforced by an informative artice I read years ago, and will probably find and link below.
Red is usually my preference for raw applications, but they are so big!
I almost always have shallots, because i grow them, and I use them for raw preparations when I only need a little, or for cooked sauces.
I’ll buy a white or sweet onion from time to time, usually when a recipe calls for it, or if it is the only available being sold “loose”. I prefer to buy onions loose.