5 Best Sweet Onion substitutes

Best substitutes for Sweet Onions

Need ideas for sweet onion substitutes? What are the best substitutes for sweet onions? Here are my suggestions. Try using white onions, brown onions, shallots, garlic, or chives.

Sweet onions are generally considered to be good for you. They are low in calories and fat while being a good source of essential nutrients Sweet onions are a typically red and are of onion variety known for their mild and sweet flavor compared to regular onions. They also come in other colors, strength of flavor, shapes and sizes. These onions are often enjoyed raw in salads or used in dishes where a milder onion flavor is desired.

Here are some of the benefits of eating sweet onions:

  • They are a good source of vitamins and minerals. Sweet onions are a good source of vitamins C and K, as well as fiber.
  • They may help to improve heart health. Sweet onions contain quercetin, an antioxidant that has been shown to help lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • They may help to boost the immune system. Sweet onions contain quercetin and other antioxidants that may help to boost the immune system and protect against infection.
  • They may help to improve digestion. Sweet onions contain fiber, which can help to keep the digestive system healthy.

Overall, sweet onions are a healthy and versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes.

Okay, before we look at the best substitute options for sweet onions, let’s deal with that empty cupboard situation!


Where can I buy Sweet Onions?

If you want to be more prepared and ensure you don’t run out of sweet onions again then you should stock up now.

Nowadays most general supermarkets stock a wide variety of sweet onions. Or if you prefer you can also purchase sweet onions on-line.

So why not jump on and place your order today.

STOCK UP NOW!

Fresh Sweet Onions

Fresh Rub Red Grapefruit – grown in Texas, USA.

Large 8lb bag.


What can I substitute for Sweet Onions?

Here are some of the best ways to substitute the flavor and role that sweet onions provide in your recipes.

Use any of the following as a substitute:

  • white onions
  • brown onions
  • shallots
  • garlic
  • chives

Sweet Onion substitutes


White onions

White onions can be used as a substitute for red sweet onions in many recipes, but there will be some differences in flavor and appearance. They have a sharper and more pungent taste compared to the mild sweetness of red sweet onions. They also have a stronger aroma.

In terms of appearance, white onions have a white papery skin and white flesh, whereas red sweet onions have a purplish-red skin and white flesh with streaks of red.

If you are substituting white onions for red sweet onions in a recipe, you may want to consider reducing the amount used or sautéing them briefly to mellow their flavor. Keep in mind that the final result may have a slightly different taste profile, but it can still work well in most dishes that call for red sweet onions.

If you are unsure how much to add then we suggest using a half a teaspoon of white onion to one teaspoon of red onion. You can always add the smaller amount to start with and add more if you want a stronger flavor.

  1. Start by slicing or chopping the white onions based on your recipe’s requirements. Adjust the size of the onion pieces to your preference and the desired texture in your dish.
  2. White onions have a sharper and more pungent flavor compared to sweet onions. They are slightly milder than red onions but still possess a characteristic onion taste. Keep in mind that the final taste may be stronger and less sweet than when using sweet onions.
  3. White onions can be used in different cooking methods, including sautéing, stir-frying, grilling, or using them raw in salads. They work well in recipes where the onion flavor is desired to be more pronounced.
  4. White onions are versatile and suitable for a wide range of savory dishes. They can be used in soups, stews, stir-fries, Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes, and more. White onions can provide a strong flavor and add depth to your recipes.
  5. If your recipe requires the sweetness of a sweet onion, you can try adding a pinch of sugar or a small amount of honey to balance the flavors when using white onions as a substitute. This can help compensate for the reduced sweetness.
White onions as a substitute for sweet onions.

Brown Onions

Brown onions are a good substitute for red sweet onions as well, although they do have a stronger flavor. They have a golden-brown skin and a slightly more pungent taste. When cooked, brown onions become sweeter and milder, so they can work well as a substitute in cooked dishes.

If you’re using brown onions instead of red sweet onions, you might want to consider reducing the amount used or sautéing them to help mellow their flavor. This will help to balance the stronger taste of brown onions and approximate the mild sweetness of red sweet onions.

While the color of the dish may be slightly different, brown onions can still provide a good flavor base in various recipes.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Start by slicing or chopping the brown onions according to the recipe’s requirements. You can adjust the size of the onion pieces based on your preference and the texture you desire in your dish.
  2. Brown onions have a stronger, more pungent flavor compared to sweet onions. While they may not provide the same level of sweetness, they can still add depth and savory notes to your dishes. Keep in mind that the final taste will be slightly different.
  3. Brown onions can be used in a variety of cooking methods, such as sautéing, caramelizing, or simmering. They work well in recipes where the onions will cook down and infuse the dish with flavor.
  4. Brown onions are versatile and suitable for a wide range of savory dishes. They can be used in soups, stews, stir-fries, curries, sauces, and more. Brown onions are especially great in dishes that require longer cooking times or those where a stronger onion flavor is desired.
  5. If your recipe calls for caramelizing sweet onions, be aware that brown onions might caramelize differently. Brown onions have a higher natural sugar content, which can result in quicker browning and potentially a deeper flavor.
Onions as a substitute for sweet onion.

Shallots

Shallots can be a suitable substitute for red sweet onions in many recipes. They have a mild and slightly sweet flavor with a hint of garlic, making them a versatile option in cooking. They have a brownish papery skin and are typically smaller than onions. There are other varieties available including some red skinned varieties which look similar to sweet red onions.

When using shallots as a substitute for red sweet onions, we would recommend that you use a 1:1 ratio. Keep in mind that shallots have a milder flavor, so the dish may have a slightly different taste profile. However, their delicate sweetness can still provide a pleasant flavor to your recipes.

Shallots are particularly great for dressings, sauces, stir-fries, and other dishes where a subtler onion flavor is desired.

Here are a few suggestions on how to use shallots as a substitute for sweet onions:

  1. Start by finely chopping the shallots. Shallots have a mild onion flavor with a touch of garlic-like undertones.
  2. Shallots are smaller than sweet onions, so you may need to use slightly more shallots to compensate. As a general guideline, you can use about 2-3 small shallots or 1 large shallot to replace 1 medium-sized sweet onion.
  3. Shallots are versatile and can be used in various cooking methods, including sautéing, roasting, and braising. They can add a delicate, sweet, and savory flavor to your dishes.
  4. Shallots have a sweeter and milder taste compared to onions. They offer a subtle onion flavor with a hint of garlic, making them a versatile option for recipes where you desire a more refined taste.
  5. Shallots work well as a substitute in recipes where sweet onions are used. They are particularly suitable for sauces, dressings, vinaigrette’s, and delicate dishes such as risottos, omelets, or quiches. Shallots also add a flavorful touch to salads or when used in compound butters.
  6. When sautéing shallots, be mindful that they cook faster than sweet onions due to their smaller size. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning or overcooking. Aim for a soft and translucent texture.
Shallots as a substitute for red sweet onion.

Garlic

While garlic can add flavor and aroma to a dish, it may not be an ideal substitute for red sweet onions. Garlic has a distinct and pungent taste that is quite different from the mild sweetness of red sweet onions. Additionally, garlic cloves are much smaller than onions, so the texture and volume in the dish would be different.

However, if you’re in a pinch and don’t have red sweet onions on hand, you can still use garlic to add flavor to your recipe. Keep in mind that the final result will have a different taste profile and may lack the subtle sweetness that red sweet onions provide. Adjust the amount of garlic according to your personal preference, as its strong flavor can quickly overpower other ingredients.

We also recommend roasting the garlic before use as this will enhance its sweetness.

Here are some suggestions for using garlic as a substitute for sweet onions:

  1. Start by finely chopping or mincing the garlic cloves. The finer you chop the garlic, the more it will resemble the texture of chopped onions.
  2. Garlic has a more pungent flavor compared to sweet onions, so it’s important to adjust the quantity accordingly. As a general guideline, you can use about half the amount of minced garlic compared to the amount of chopped sweet onions called for in the recipe. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped sweet onions, you can use approximately 1/2 cup of minced garlic.
  3. Garlic can be used as a substitute in various cooking methods, including sautéing, stir-frying, roasting, or braising. Keep in mind that garlic has a lower water content than onions, so it may brown or burn more quickly. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to avoid overcooking the garlic.
  4. Garlic has a distinctive flavor that is more intense and pungent compared to sweet onions. It adds a savory, aromatic, and slightly spicy taste to dishes. Consider the flavor balance of your recipe and how the garlicky taste will complement other ingredients.
  5. Garlic is particularly suitable as a substitute in savory dishes such as stir-fries, sauces, stews, soups, and roasted vegetable preparations. It can add depth and complexity to the flavor profile, but keep in mind that the final taste will be different from that of sweet onions.
Garlic as a substitute for sweet onion.

Chives

Chives can be used as substitutes for red sweet onions as they have a mild onion flavor with a hint of garlic. They are much milder compared to red sweet onions.

Chives are typically used as an herb or garnish rather than a main ingredient. They are commonly chopped and sprinkled over dishes like baked potatoes, soups, and omelets.

When using chives as a substitute for red sweet onions, consider their flavors and adjust the amounts accordingly. They can add a touch of onion-like flavor to your dishes, but the final taste and texture may differ from using red sweet onions directly.

Here are some tips for using chives as a substitute for sweet onions:

  1. Start by finely chopping the chives into small pieces. You can use both the green stems and the mild-tasting bulbs at the base of the chives.
  2. Since chives have a milder flavor compared to sweet onions, you may need to use a slightly larger amount to achieve a similar taste. Start with about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of chopped chives for every 1 medium-sized sweet onion.
  3. Chives are more delicate than onions, so it’s best to use them in recipes that don’t require long cooking times. They are ideal for adding a fresh onion-like flavor to raw or lightly cooked dishes.
  4. Chopped chives work well as a garnish or ingredient in salads, salsas, dressings, or dips. Their mild flavor can complement other ingredients without overpowering them.
  5. Chives can be added towards the end of the cooking process in sautés, stir-fries, omelets, or soups that don’t require lengthy cooking times. This helps to preserve their delicate flavor and freshness.
  6. If you’re using chives as a substitute solely for their onion-like flavor, you can also combine them with a small amount of finely minced garlic or shallots to enhance the overall onion-like taste in a dish.
Chives as a substitute for sweet red onion.

Scallions as sweet onion substitutes

Spring onions can be used as substitutes for red sweet onions, and are readily available in most supermarkets.

Spring onions, can also be known as scallions or green onions. They have a milder taste compared to red sweet onions. The white part of the spring onion is more pungent, similar to a regular onion, while the green tops have a fresh and slightly sharp flavor. Spring onions can be used raw or cooked and are often used as a garnish or ingredient in salads, stir-fries, and soups.

Scallions can be used as a substitute for sweet onions in some recipes, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Scallions have a milder, more delicate flavor than sweet onions, so they may not be as flavorful in some dishes. Additionally, scallions have a higher water content than sweet onions, so they may make your dish more watery.

Here are some tips for using scallions as a substitute for sweet onions:

  • Use a slightly larger amount of scallions than you would use sweet onions. This will help to compensate for the milder flavor and the higher water content.
  • If you are using scallions in a cooked dish, cook them until they are soft, but not browned. This will help to reduce the water content and make them more flavorful.
  • If you are using scallions in a salad or other raw dish, chop them finely to help distribute the flavor.
Chives

Summary for sweet onion substitutes

Okay – that’s you all sorted with suitable substitutes for sweet onion.

There are a good range of alternatives to use if you run out of sweet onion – and most of them might already be in your salad drawer or pantry.

The sweet onion substitutes listed above will provide you with an alternative if you run out of sweet onion. Which one will you choose?

And remember if you’re looking to replace sweet onions in a recipe, you’ll need to consider what role the sweet onion is playing and choose a suitable replacement that provides similar benefits.

We have gathered together a lot more facts on ingredients such as herbs, spices, oils, nuts, etc. if you would like to learn some more.