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What Is The Difference Between White Onions And Yellow Onions

Onions are the humble workhorse of the kitchen pantry, adding savory flavor to so many dishes – lunch, breakfast and dinner. But which onion is best for your recipe? Here’s what you need to know about these incredibly versatile veggies.


White vs Yellow vs Red Onions: What’s the Difference?

Onions of all different types and sizes on the countertop
Blaine Fossati/Meredith

Yellow onions

It is a good all-round onion, excellent for cooking and flavoring dishes. By far, they are the most popular onions sold in America and versatile enough for just about anything. Yellow onions are a smart choice for caramelization, which brings out their natural sweetness.

white onions

These onions are slightly sweeter, a little more delicate in taste than yellow onions. They’re a good choice for dicing and serving raw on sandwiches and salads, or in fresh dips.

Red onions

These onions are colorful and have a tangy to mild flavor. Thanks to their bright color and crunchy texture, they are great for salads, dips and other fresh recipes. They are also excellent cold cuts for sandwiches. With cooking the color fades, but they are still delicious cooked.

…. And Sweet Onions

Sweet onions have their own category. Vidalia onions are a particularly mild yellow onion grown around Vidalia, Georgia. Crunchy and sweet, they are excellent served raw in salads and sauces. Walla Walla Sweet Onions are another brand of sweet onions, grown in Walla Walla, Washington.

The bottom line: There are some subtle differences between yellow, white and red onions. But bottom line, you’d be fine substituting one color for the other, no problem.

Collage-of-onions-and-so.jpg


Types of onions

Bermuda and Spanish: yellow or white; delicate flavour

Red or Italian: red; delicate flavour

Globe: yellow, white or red: stronger flavour

Pearl: marble size; white; bland

Maui, Vidalia and Walla Walla: pale yellow or white; sweet and delicate flavour

Green onions or shallots: immature onions with a white bottom and green top; delicate flavour

Most onions are available fresh all year round. However, some sweet onion varieties are more seasonal.

102316374_Onions-in-a-basket_Photo-by-Meredith.jpg
Meredith


How to harvest and store onions

Choose firm onions with dry, papery skins. Avoid onions that have brown or soft spots or onions with any emerging sprouts.

Store whole onions in a cool, dry place out of the sun. Onions can keep for months. For partially used onions, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or a sealed container and refrigerate. Onions will keep for several days.


Why does cutting onions cause stinging tears?

Slicing an onion releases sulfur compounds that burn the eyes. The root end contains the most sulfuric compounds, so chop it last. Here are two tear-free ways to slice an onion.


How are onions grown?

Onions love cool weather and can be planted and harvested earlier than most garden vegetables. They need sun and fertile, well-draining soil. There are two types of onions: long day and short day. Ask the friendly folks at your local garden center which type grows best in your area.

Check out our full collection of Onion recipes.

Related:

  • DIY an endless supply of fresh green onions
  • How to cut onions without tears
  • How to store onions so they last


Onions are the humble workhorse of the kitchen pantry, adding savory flavor to so many dishes – lunch, breakfast and dinner. But which onion is best for your recipe? Here’s what you need to know about these incredibly versatile veggies.


White vs Yellow vs Red Onions: What’s the Difference?

Onions of all different types and sizes on the countertop
Blaine Fossati/Meredith

Yellow onions

It is a good all-round onion, excellent for cooking and flavoring dishes. By far, they are the most popular onions sold in America and versatile enough for just about anything. Yellow onions are a smart choice for caramelization, which brings out their natural sweetness.

white onions

These onions are slightly sweeter, a little more delicate in taste than yellow onions. They’re a good choice for dicing and serving raw on sandwiches and salads, or in fresh dips.

Red onions

These onions are colorful and have a tangy to mild flavor. Thanks to their bright color and crunchy texture, they are great for salads, dips and other fresh recipes. They are also excellent cold cuts for sandwiches. With cooking the color fades, but they are still delicious cooked.

…. And Sweet Onions

Sweet onions have their own category. Vidalia onions are a particularly mild yellow onion grown around Vidalia, Georgia. Crunchy and sweet, they are excellent served raw in salads and sauces. Walla Walla Sweet Onions are another brand of sweet onions, grown in Walla Walla, Washington.

The bottom line: There are some subtle differences between yellow, white and red onions. But bottom line, you’d be fine substituting one color for the other, no problem.

Collage-of-onions-and-so.jpg


Types of onions

Bermuda and Spanish: yellow or white; delicate flavour

Red or Italian: red; delicate flavour

Globe: yellow, white or red: stronger flavour

Pearl: marble size; white; bland

Maui, Vidalia and Walla Walla: pale yellow or white; sweet and delicate flavour

Green onions or shallots: immature onions with a white bottom and green top; delicate flavour

Most onions are available fresh all year round. However, some sweet onion varieties are more seasonal.

102316374_Onions-in-a-basket_Photo-by-Meredith.jpg
Meredith


How to harvest and store onions

Choose firm onions with dry, papery skins. Avoid onions that have brown or soft spots or onions with any emerging sprouts.

Store whole onions in a cool, dry place out of the sun. Onions can keep for months. For partially used onions, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap or a sealed container and refrigerate. Onions will keep for several days.


Why does cutting onions cause stinging tears?

Slicing an onion releases sulfur compounds that burn the eyes. The root end contains the most sulfuric compounds, so chop it last. Here are two tear-free ways to slice an onion.


How are onions grown?

Onions love cool weather and can be planted and harvested earlier than most garden vegetables. They need sun and fertile, well-draining soil. There are two types of onions: long day and short day. Ask the friendly folks at your local garden center which type grows best in your area.

Check out our full collection of Onion recipes.

Related:

  • DIY an endless supply of fresh green onions
  • How to cut onions without tears
  • How to store onions so they last


Video about What Is The Difference Between White Onions And Yellow Onions

Onions – What's the Difference?

What is the difference between types of onion? Bulb onions, like red, white, sweet, and yellow onions are similar, but with subtle differences. All onions can be eaten raw, or cooked, but some are better suited for specific culinary uses. For detailed onion information, visit this page on my website http://www.myfoodchannel.com/onions/. For recipe ideas, check out the Chef Buck playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2EFBD7E8FE2BB552
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Yellow Onions:
Strongest flavor
Great for soups, stews, roasting, and sauces
Best for long cooking times.
Most popular onion (more than 80% of onions grown are yellow onions…so often economically the best buy)
High in sulphur and sugar content, so best for caramelizing
Also called brown onions

Sweet Onions:
Strong flavor
Great for roasting dishes, frying (onion rings!)
Are generally named for the region they are grown.
Examples include the Vidalia, the Walla Walla, and Bermuda onions.
They are high in sugar, but contain less sulphur than yellow onions.
Good for caramelizing and cooking.
They have a high water content and a relatively shorter shelf-life.
To extend the onion, wrap in a paper towel and store in the refrigerator

Red Onions:
Milder flavor
Best onion for raw applications
Excellent for slicing thin and adding to salads or sandwiches
Great for pickling
Best for Grilling
Lower sugar and sulphur makes them poor for caramelizing

White Onions:
Strong flavor
Great for cooking, and raw uses
Thinner onion layers, crisp
Favored onion for salsas, chutneys, guacamole, and most Latin recipes
Best pizza topping

When buying, choose onions that are firm, and heavy for their size. Avoid onions that are bruised or showing signs of mold. Store onions in a well ventilated, dry, cool area. Do not store onions with potatoes–this will reduce their shelf-life. Sweet onions are highest in water content and will spoil more quickly than dryer onions; to extend life, wrap a sweet onion in a paper towel and store in the fridge.

Cut onions when you are ready to use them. Onion flavor intensifies quickly after being cut, and once cut, can become overly strong over a short period (old onions!–blech!)

Nutritionally, onions are awesome. Onions provide vitamin C and valuable nutrients, are high in fiber, lower the risk of some cancers, promote heart health, and act as an anti-inflammatory. The greatest concentration of nutrition is in the outer layer of the onion, so peel away as little of the onion as possible when using–why waste it?

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