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Yummy Alternatives: 5 BEST Substitutes for Red Onions

Ever found yourself slicing into a red onion, only to discover you’re all out? We’ve been there too. It’s frustrating, right?

Luckily, we’ve got you covered with some top-notch alternatives that might just save your dish. Our list isn’t just about filling a gap; it’s about enhancing your meal. Each substitute brings its own unique flair to the table.

We dove deep to find options that aren’t just second best—they could even become your new go-to. And we promise, there’s no need to dash to some far-off specialty store; these alternatives are likely already in your pantry or a quick stop away at your local grocery.

Ready to turn a kitchen mishap into a culinary win? Let’s dig in and discover these game-changers together.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Red Onions

Red onions are known for their vibrant color and mild, sweet flavor.

However, if you don’t have red onions on hand or simply prefer an alternative, there are several substitutes available that can provide a similar taste and texture.

SubstituteKey CharacteristicsProper Ratio
Onion PowderDehydrated onion with concentrated flavorUse 1 tablespoon of onion powder in place of 1/2 cup of diced red onions
White OnionsMild and slightly sweet flavorUse an equal amount of white onions as a substitute for red onions
Scallions/Green OnionsMild onion flavor with a hint of freshnessUse an equal amount of scallions/green onions as a substitute for red onions
ChivesMild and delicate onion flavorUse an equal amount of chives as a substitute for red onions
LeeksMild and slightly sweet onion-like flavorUse an equal amount of leeks as a substitute for red onions

Now let’s dive into each substitute in more detail:

1 – Onion Powder

onion powder

Here’s an ingredient that you may already have in your kitchen.

Onion powder is simply onions that have been dried and ground up.

It provides the same taste as the real thing if you are using it in a recipe that calls for finely chopped onion.

Fresh onions have a water content of about 89 percent.

This liquid is released when the onions are cooked; you can notice this especially when you fry or sauté them.

Onion powder does not have this water, so you will need to keep that in mind when using this as a substitute.

Also, note that onion powder will not give the crunch and thickness that fresh red onion will.

  • Key Characteristics: Onion powder is made from dehydrated onions, resulting in a concentrated flavor. It offers the distinctive taste of onions in a powdered form.
  • To substitute red onions with onion powder, use 1 tablespoon of onion powder in place of 1/2 cup of diced red onions. Adjust the quantity based on personal preference and the specific recipe you are preparing.

2 – White Onions

white onions

If you find that red onions have too strong a taste for the food you are preparing, try white onions instead.

Red onions have a sharp bite and a pronounced flavor that is hard to mistake.

White onions have a similar flavor profile, only milder.

White onions have less crunch to their texture, feeling a little more papery.

Their taste is not as pronounced but is slightly sour or bitter.

They are not as familiar worldwide as red onions, but you should have no problem finding them.

When substituting white onions for red onions, use the same measurements.

  • Key Characteristics: White onions have a milder and slightly sweeter flavor compared to red onions. They can be used as a direct substitute for red onions in many recipes.
  • Use an equal amount of white onions as a substitute for red onions. Keep in mind that white onions may have a slightly different taste, but they will still provide a pleasant onion flavor to your dishes.

3 – Scallions/Green Onions

scallionsgreen onions

This plant is a close relative of garlic and shallot.

Being an onion itself, it should serve the same role as red onions do in most recipes.

Scallions are much smaller than regular onions because their bulbs do not fully develop.

You can use both the green leaf of the scallion and the smaller white bulb.

The green part has a very mild taste and is perfect for salads and garnishing.

The bulb will taste slightly acidic, but it is not as strong as red onions.

You can eat scallions raw or cooked, but because the leaf and bulb taste somewhat different, you may want to use them for other dishes.

The leaf tastes better than the bulb uncooked, for example.

  • Key Characteristics: Scallions or green onions offer a mild onion flavor with a hint of freshness. They can be used as a substitute for red onions in salads, garnishes, or any dish where a milder onion taste is desired.
  • Use an equal amount of scallions/green onions as a substitute for red onions. Adjust the quantity based on personal preference and the specific recipe you are preparing.

4 – Chives

chives

This is a commonly used herb that you can find in most grocery stores.

Chives look a lot like scallions with their thin, green, leafy stalks.

Chives contain many beneficial nutrients, especially a large amount of Vitamin K.

The main part of the plant used in cooking is the green stalk, which can be eaten raw or cooked.

The flower is also edible but is not a suitable substitute for onions.

Recipes that use raw onion are the best for using chives as a substitute.

Raw chives are incredible as a garnish or when used in salads.

If you must use them in a recipe for cooked onion, throw the chives in as late as possible.

  • Key Characteristics: Chives have a mild and delicate onion flavor. While they won’t provide the same texture as red onions, they can add a subtle onion-like taste to your dishes.
  • Use an equal amount of chives as a substitute for red onions. Keep in mind that chives are best used as a garnish or added towards the end of cooking to preserve their delicate flavor.

5 – Leeks

leeks

This vegetable is a popular ingredient in its own right.

Leeks are often used in soups, stews, salads, or pasta.

They are prevalent in stews and soup because of the depth their flavor adds.

The part of the leek to eat is the white base of the leaves and the light green part of the leafy portion.

Leeks are dense, crunchy, and firm, much like onions.

Unlike the red onion, leeks have a milder taste that hints of garlic.

  • Key Characteristics: Leeks have a mild and slightly sweet onion-like flavor. They can be used as a substitute for red onions in cooked dishes such as soups, stews, or sautés.
  • Use an equal amount of leeks as a substitute for red onions. Adjust the quantity based on personal preference and the specific recipe you are preparing.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Red Onions

Looking to switch up your recipes without red onions? Search no more! We've compiled a list of the 5 best substitutes that will add a burst of flavor to your dishes without the need for red onions.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 4 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • Onion Powder
  • White Onions
  • Scallions/Green Onions
  • Chives
  • Leeks

Instructions
 

  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword substitutes for red onions
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