In today’s article, we are covering the best onion substitutes. Well, onions are the widely used ingredients in daily cooking. It gives an amazing and fresh flavor to your dishes. However, matching the taste of onion is a little hard. Still, we have managed to incorporate the substitutes for the onion to give you a replacement.
Onions come in hundreds of varieties (yes, that many!). Some are sweet, sour, crispy, soft, and tangy. The intensity of flavor of the onion depends on its freshness. If you pick up really fresh onions, you won’t even be able to smell the fragrance.
It is used as sweet, savory, and aromatic veggie in your dishes. But when you eat it raw, it gives a slightly spicy flavor, and when cooked, it becomes sweet and caramelized—what a wonderful transformation. You can imagine how you can play with onions just by doing some process.
Despite its taste and flavor, some people are allergic to onions. Therefore, they need a few other options which can suffice for them and still enjoy the taste of the dishes. So, today we are covering some of the best onion substitutes that you can really use without compromising on flavor.
We are giving you different options for onion substitutes, including shallots, green onion, onion powder, asafoetida powder, garlic, onion flakes, onion salt, and bell peppers.
However, before we start discussing the best onion substitutes, let me help you understand onion a little better. Once you know its flavor profile, it will be easier to pick your substitute.
Quick Peek: Onion
This section has all the information you need on the onion. You will understand the onion, its flavor and texture profile, uses, and nutritional information. So, let us discover more about onions!
What Is Onion?
Onions and other veggies like scallions, chives, garlic, Chinese onion, shallot, and leeks, are members of the genus ‘Allium.’ They come in various colors like yellow, white, and red. However, all of them have different textures and flavors.
Different types of onions have different flavors. It all depends on your recipe and the taste you want to achieve. Aside from eating them raw in sandwiches, salads, dips, and sauces, onions are also excellently roasted, grilled, caramelized, or fried.
You may have wondered many times why onions make you cry. Well, it is because they contain a sulfur-based chemical that irritates your eyes and causes you to tear up. But no worries, now, the substitutes will also help you, and you won’t shed tears anymore.
Describing Onion: Flavor and Texture
When we talk about the texture and flavor of the onion, all types of onions are pungent to a degree. Some are very mild; some are extremely strong. Other flavor adjectives for onions are hot, bitter, sweet, acidic, earthy, or salty.
Here is one interesting fact about onions. When you chop, dice, or slice onions, they unleash their flavor molecules. So, how you prepare your onion will affect the flavor. Since slicing and dicing release odor and flavor. The more you chop your onion, the more flavorful it will become. Interesting right?
The most common forms of large onions are yellow onion, white onion, and red onion. In most cuisines, yellow onions are used as a flavoring agent. When cooked, they become mellow and have both sweet and savory overtones. They add a rich taste to soups, stews, and other prepared foods.
White onions have a crisp texture and a strong flavor. The deep purple color of red onions brightens dishes. Many people eat them raw in salads or salsas. Raw onions are strong and might overwhelm you with their flavor.
Onions are closely related to shallots, garlic, leeks, scallions, and chives. As they are members of the onion family, they are excellent flavor alternatives. However, if you avoid onions due to a food allergy or intolerance, other onion alternatives will give a strong onion-like flavor.
Uses of Onion
As you all know, onions can be pungent, sweet, savory, and aromatic at the same time. But they make the food more enjoyable and tasty. In a true sense, onions are a luxury. They can be grilled, caramelized, pickled, deep-fried, sliced, and raw in various salad recipes.
Moreover, onions are also used in sandwiches, tacos, dips, and diced for garnishing purposes too. Isn’t it great? Surely, onions are unique and versatile ingredients in culinary art. There are various types of onions available in the market. Each type of onion has its taste and usage.
Onion On The Health Radar | Looking Through The Wellness Telescope
Every mother’s summer remedy for her children is an onion. Eating onions, especially in the summer season, can help beat the heat. The culinary Gods have ensured that onions find a place in our homes and many of our recipes. Let’s not deny that most foods don’t taste good if onions are not there. But apart from our tongue getting tickled by them, onions are great for health too.
Onions contain various minerals, including sodium, potassium, folates, vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. The simple onion, in reality, is a superfood. Onions are rich in flavonoids and thiosulfinates, which is again good for heart health.
Nowadays, everything revolves around immunity. Onions are antioxidants that can help you strengthen your immunity as well.
Onions are also good for getting flawless skin as they are high in vitamins A, C, and K. These vitamins promote a healthy complexion and prevent pigmentation. Would you believe that onion juice is used to get supple, acne-free skin in a face pack? Next time, try out this remedy at home and check out the great results.
Why Use A Substitute For Onions?
Are you the one who is bothered by bad breath due to onions? In that case, you have to try multiple things to combat bad breath: consume chewing gum or fennel seeds. But that will take time, or sometimes maybe these remedies are not instantly available.
For many people, eating onions is a matter of extreme dislike. Some people avoid onions due to their pungency. Many people may get stomach aches or allergies after consuming it. In that case, onion alternatives are the best to go with.
Taking in the health reasons, people who have Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) avoid garlic and onions at all costs. Eating onion could cause a number of problems and discomfort. In the case of sensitive eyes, people avoid onions as they cause eyes to itch and burn.
I believe I have given you enough information on the onion by now. Now, let’s quickly rush to the main attraction of this article; its best substitutes. So, let us explore the best onion substitutes together.
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12 Best Onion Substitutes
This section lists all the best substitutes you can use in place of onion. Moreover, you will also get to understand how to use each substitute in your recipes.
Shallots are as versatile as onions. You have two think twice between onions and shallots before picking them up because they look like siblings. These small, crunchy, and delicate allium vegetables are mild in flavor. You can use them just like onions, and you can chop and slice them too.
We often use onions in all sorts of dishes like soups, salads, sauces, or any main course, and they have an intense flavor. On the other hand, shallots give a delicate sweet flavor with a hint of sharpness.
Shallots are the appreciable choice for soups, sauces, or risottos and are the perfect onion substitute. When using shallots in your dish, make sure to consider the volume; being smaller in size, you will need more than onions.
Leafy green leeks are also the best onion substitute. Onions create heat and spicy flavor to your dish, but these fresh green leeks are mild and give a sophisticated flavor to the dish. Leeks are the best pick to garnish your dish and be the base of the dish.
Chop the leeks for your recipe, saute or can roast them, and also grill them to complement your dish. Leeks are very famous as they have the ability to add depth to soups, stews, and vegetable stock.
If you prefer mild flavors over the intense flavor of onions, how about using these mild leeks, which cross the taste between onion and garlic.
Celery looks green and leafy, obviously different from onions, but when it comes to taste and flavor, it is a perfect alternative. It also emulates a milder flavor but is great if you plan to avoid onions because of their pungent flavor.
Adding celery powder or celery root is a great way to substitute onions in your dish since it adds an aromatic flavor and crunch.
It is easier to cook onions, but celery is tough and fibrous, so you might have to cook it for longer to break some of the fibers. You can use celery to substitute onions in soups and stews. For the calorie-conscious, celery is also low in calories.
4. Green Onions
Refreshing green onions are the best choice to take your dish to the next level. Also called scallions, they have an amazing grassy flavor. The reason for their being the perfect substitute for onions is these green onions share a similar profile with onions and can be used raw or cooked.
The magic does not stop here; these mild green onions are versatile too. They are great for soups, omelets, stir fry and sauces. Garnishing your salad with raw green onions will always be a great step for the tempting dish. In spite of being the best alternative for onions, you can not cook green onions for long as they burn easily.
Chives are actually a kind of herb with long green leaves. Their leaves and flowers are also edible. The taste of chives is related to both onion and garlic. Chives are mild in flavor than onions but taste almost the same. You can also use the flowers as well as leaves of chives for garnishing to make your dish more delightful.
In any of these recipes, chives are an ideal onion substitute for salad, potatoes, and fish. It can also be added to seafood dishes and omelets. But you need to add the delicately flavored chives at the last minute to the dish as heat destroys its flavor.
You can always maximize the taste of it by slicing them thinly or chopped finely. To achieve the appropriate flavor, we always sauté onions in hot oil, but this delicate herb and its flavor are best served raw and with minimal preparation.
Fennel is another viable choice as an onion substitute. Fennel is a vegetable with green stalks, a white bulb, and green feather-like leaves. The crispy bulb has an anise-licorice flavor and works well to replicate the onions’ flavor. You can use the fennel leaves in salads, soups, and sauces and also garnish.
The bulbs can be eaten raw, sautéed, grilled, braised, roasted, or stewed. After cooking, it loses its anise-licorice flavor and becomes sweeter. 1 cup chopped fennel bulb can be used in place of 1 cup minced onion.
Fennel resembles an onion, but when raw, it has a pronounced black licorice-like flavor. However, when cooked, it can stand in for onions. In fact, it imparts an enticing flavor to soups and stews. So, if you are allergic to onions, then fennel will work wonders for you.
7. Onion Powder
Onion powder is another onion substitute you can go with. It is used as a seasoning and in various spice blends. Fresh onions taste just like onion powder. However, it is a little stronger, combining savory and sweet flavors.
But before choosing onion powder as a substitute, let’s discover what these two bring on to the table. Fresh onions have a real crunch when raw, and approximately 89% of the water it contains. In the case of onion powder, it comes from onions that have been dried. Then, they are crushed to flakes and then to powder. So, basically, it has no texture, water, and concentrated onion punch.
You can use onion powder with other spices in your meals. It adds fantastic flavoring to sauces, dressings, soups, marinades, popcorn seasoning, mixed nuts, potato chips, hamburgers, or even chicken nuggets.
8. Asafoetida Powder
A small dose of asafoetida gives a soothing onion flavor to your dishes. Surely, it is another great substitute for onion. asafoetida is a key ingredient in Ayurvedic and western herbal medications. If you don’t like the taste of raw onions, you can substitute them with asafoetida powder.
Don’t get scared by its smell as and when it’s added to cooking, it gives a great flavor when it dissipates with cooking. Asafoetida powder is widely used in Indian and Mediterranean dishes. It is a fantastic substitute to add character, flavor, and health benefits to your dishes.
Texture-wise, it’s a coarse yellow powder that smells like boiled eggs. It has a pungent taste similar to celery; thus, it’s an ideal replacement for onions in a variety of cuisines. Keep a note while using it in cooking, as it has a strong flavor, so just add a pinch or two. A great thing about Asafoetida is it becomes more pleasant when cooked.
Moreover, Asafoetida goes well with lentils, chickpeas, pulses, and cauliflower. So, next time, if your guest is visiting you and they don’t have onions – you can easily replace the onion flavor in your food with Asafoetida.
Garlic is another great substitute for onion. It has a powerful flavor that is different from onions but adds a strong flavor to your dishes. Just like, garlic is also from the Allium family. You can mash the garlic cloves and use them in your recipes.
Garlic has a strong, pungent flavor, so you can’t eat it raw. When roasting them, it changes their texture and flavor, giving the garlic cloves a nutty taste. It can be a part of various dishes like soups, sauces, marinades, and stir-fry dishes.
In many cuisines, garlic is an essential ingredient. It’s very popular in Italian and Greek recipes. An interesting fact here; garlic and onion both contain sulfur molecules that contribute to great fragrant tastes.
10. Onion Flakes
Onion flakes can easily be used as an onion substitute. It has the best taste match because these are derived from chopped and dehydrated onion bits. It can be used in various recipes such as stews, soups, salads, casseroles, sauces, and dips. To attain perfect taste, 3 tablespoons of onion flakes can be used in place of 1 onion.
Onion flakes go through a simple dehydration process which helps enhance the flavor and scent. It is even tastier than onion powder. Due to the strong flavor, fewer dried onions are required as an onion substitute.
The flavor profile of the onion flakes is a strong, flavorful, and great aroma. When fried or roasted, they give good character to the dishes. Also, if you want attractive garnishing with your soups and salads, onion flakes play a great role. Dried onion flakes are also inexpensive and convenient to use. They are extremely simple to store and use.
11. Onion Salt
Onion salt is different from onion flakes and onion powder. It contains onions and salt. You can consider onion salt as a substitute for onion as it contains onion as a primary ingredient. When cooking, if you want a salty flavor, use onion salt instead of your regular salt.
Onion salt is extremely simple to make. It’s just a mixture of onion powder and salt. If you don’t want to add fresh onions, onion salt will save your dish. Onion salt gives you a salty, strong, and slightly pungent taste.
It goes well in various dishes like soups, stews, vegetable curries, and meat dishes. Add a pinch of onion salt, and you get a great taste in your food. You can store onion salt easily for a longer time; quick to use. Just add a pinch in your food, and get onion flavors talking in style.
12. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are more robust and aromatic. You can saute, grill, and steam them without losing their flavor. Bell peppers come in a variety of colors, including green, red, orange, and yellow, with each color reflecting a different flavor. The sweetness of bell peppers, like onions, is enhanced when fried, grilled, or sautéed.
Bell peppers and onions add texture to any recipe as raw ingredients. We recommend using more bell peppers because they are less pungent than onions. Bell peppers are utilized in Latin American, Creole, and Asian recipes.
The flavor profile for every kind of bell pepper is different. Green onions have the most similar grassy and slightly bitter flavor to onions. Orange, yellow, and red peppers, on the other hand, have a sweeter flavor and can be used in place of onions if you have them on hand.
Use roasted, cooked, grilled, stuffed, or sautéed bell peppers in your recipes or even add them as raw in salads. Substitute bell pepper for 1 cup of chopped onions in recipes.
Short Recap For Best Onion Substitutes
I am sure that by now, you must have gone through all the best onion substitutes. However, since a lot of substitutes do not match the exact same flavor profile of onion, it might be confusing as to which one would work best in your recipe.
In that case, there is absolutely no need to worry! I have broken it down further for you into three categories to make it easier. Have a look!
Most suitable: Shallots are the most suitable for the best onion substitutes.
Easily available: The most easily available onion substitutes are onion powder, bell peppers, asafoetida powder, and green onions.
Best flavor profile: Onion flakes will give the best flavor profile when used as an onion substitute.
- Green Onions
- Onion Powder
- Asfoetida Powder
- Onion Flakes
- Onion Salt
- Bell Peppers
- Go through the substitutes and see which one seems fit for the recipe.
- Collect your ingredients and use your preferred substitute.
- Use the substitute in the required amount and proceed to make the dish according to the recipe.
As we have reached the end of this article, I hope it has helped you find the best onion substitute for your recipe. While the onion is an extremely versatile ingredient, it is also an ingredient that can very easily be substituted.
That being said, all the substitute options given above make very worthy alternatives. You can pick what works best for your recipe and as per your flavor profile. If you are avoiding onions for health reasons, check to add these onion alternatives without adding onions and see how you like it!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you be allergic to onions?
Onions can be allergic to you because they contain sulfur. It can affect your digestive system if you have not consumed onions for a longer time.
What is the family of onions?
Onions and other aromatic plants belong to the genus Allium in the lily family.
What is the best way to store onions?
You should store onions in a dry place so that they stay fresh for longer.
Why does onion make you cry?
When an onion is sliced or diced, the onion’s cells release these compounds into the air. This form of sulfuric acid irritates the nerves around the eyes making them tear.