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Gourmet Hacks: 5 BEST Substitutes for Yellow Onions

Have you ever hesitated at the grocery store, not sure of what to choose between the white onions and the yellow onions?

What is so special about a yellow onion that makes it different than the rest?

Yellow onions are quite popular due to their distinctive flavor and are often used in recipes as a main ingredient.

If you don’t have this staple ingredient readily available, fear not.

There are plenty of great substitutes for yellow onions that will provide even better flavor profiles.

First, let’s dive into exploring more about this unique vegetable.

What is Yellow Onion?

When you think of an onion, the first thing that comes to mind is something round and white.

But the yellow onion adds a unique twist to this classic vegetable.

Its strong and pungent aroma evokes feelings of perplexity as one wonders what it tastes like.

Fortunately, its mild yet slightly spicy flavor brings balance with its sweet undertones.

When chopped, the yellow onion provides a hearty crunch with every bite- definitely not as crisp as a white onion, but still quite satisfying.

This makes it ideal for adding depth to soups, meats, and salads.

Whether grated for salads or sautéed for a meat dish, the yellow onion is sure to make your meals memorable.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Yellow Onions

If you find yourself in a pinch, feeling perplexed about what to use as an onion substitute for that delicious recipe you’ve wanted to try out, then here are five of the best substitutes for yellow onions.

1 – White Onions

White onions are a fascinating vegetable.

Although they look similar to yellow onions, white onions have a distinct flavor profile that sets them apart from other types of onions.

The white onion has a slightly savory and sweet taste with an intriguing crunchy texture.

They are milder in flavor compared to yellow onions and can be used in salads, pizza toppings, stews, chili, sautes, and salsas.

When substituting white onions for yellow in cooking, keep in mind that the white is very pungent when raw but mellows out considerably once cooked.

As such, you may want to use fewer than the recipe will typically indicate when substituting between these two varieties.

2 – Red Onions

Red onions are a bit of a peculiar vegetable.

Considered one of the “sweeter” onions, they are typically used as either an ornamental garnish or in salads.

Much like their yellow onion counterparts, red onions have a crunchy texture and can have a bit of a pungent flavor.

Red onions are unique because they have higher sugar content than yellow onions, which makes them less acidic and gives them their signature sweetness.

If you’re looking to avoid the sharp pungency of the yellow onion, substituting it for red onion gives dishes that nice subtle sweetness.

3 – Sweet Onions

Sweet onions such as Vidalia or Walla Walla offer a surprisingly sweet and fragrant alternative to the traditional yellow onion.

These distinct varieties are characterized by their thin, papery outer layers and a milky white color inside.

When you bite into them, they are almost juicy and dissolve into a deliciously sweet flavor that has been known to happily surprise anyone expecting something bitter and strong.

You can use sweet onions as a substitute for yellow onions in many recipes – simply slice them thin or dice them very small so that their subtle sweetness is spread out through the other flavors in your dish.

4 – Scallions

Scallions are a type of onion that are usually found in various dishes for adding flavor.

Often referred to as green onions, scallions typically have much less of a pungent flavor than yellow onions and can be used to add a slight savory sweetness or crunch to your dish.

In terms of texture, they tend to be less crisp and chewy than white or yellow onions, which makes them perfect for slicing thin on sandwiches or salads.

If you’re looking to substitute scallions in place of yellow or white onions in your recipe, it’s best not to use too much, as the difference in flavor intensity can be drastic.

Consider using 1/3 the amount suggested by your recipe and tasting afterward – you can always add more later if desired.

5 – Shallots

Shallots are beloved by many cooks and chefs for their subtle, sweet flavor profile that is similar to that of onion but milder.

These small vegetables can undoubtedly elevate any dish with their sophisticated taste.

Shallots have a similar texture compared to onions but with a thinner skin that gives them little brown bulbs, which makes them easier to peel.

For those who are yet to familiarize themselves with shallots, they make an excellent substitution for yellow onions in most recipes that call for cooked onions.

With a hint of garlicky-oniony taste, shallots will add a unique background flavor to your dishes while still keeping a mellow taste.


In conclusion, there are a variety of alternatives to traditional yellow onions that can help take any dish up a notch.

Whether you’re looking for something sweet, mild, or robust – one of the five options discussed here is sure to give your recipe an extra edge of flavor.

The unique characteristics of each onion type can profoundly alter the flavors in any meal, so make sure to experiment and find the right one for your dish.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Yellow Onions

No yellow onions in the pantry? Fear not! We've gathered the 5 best substitutes that will provide the same depth of flavor and aroma to your dishes, ensuring your recipes are as flavorful as ever.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes
Servings 1 Serving


  • White Onions
  • Red Onions
  • Sweet Onions
  • Scallions
  • Shallots


  • Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  • Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
Keyword Substitutes for Yellow Onions
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