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Delicious Shifts: 5 BEST Substitutes for Yellow Onions

Have you ever been in a pinch and realized that the recipe you’re following calls for yellow onion, but all you have is white?

Most culinary experts will tell you that there are subtle differences between different types of onions that make them interchangeable, but not equal.

If you’re looking to swap out Yellow Onion for an alternative, there are five common substitutes you can choose from.

When it comes to using yellow onions, they are most commonly used within raw dishes like salads or relishes or as a topping on burgers and sandwiches.

Additionally, they make a great addition to stews and soups when the dish could use a hint of sweetness without adding sugar.

The 5 Best Substitutes for Yellow Onions

Though there is no perfect replacement for yellow onions due to their unique flavor profile, there are some substitutes you can try depending on what you’re cooking.

Here are the five best substitutes for yellow onions:

1 – White Onions

white onions

White onions are a great substitute for yellow onions and the most common choice for use in Mexican, Italian and other Latin American cooking.

They are not as sweet as yellow onions but have a stronger, spicier flavor when cooked.

White onions can be used in salads, soups and stews as well as onion rings and other fried dishes.

When raw, white onions have a very mild flavor but become more pungent when cooked.

Their crunchy texture holds up better than that of yellow onions during cooking and they add more color to dishes than yellow onions do.

2 – Red Onions

red onions

Red onions have a vivid purple coloring and a deep flavor.

They may be stronger and more pungent than yellow onions, so to achieve the desired flavor balance, the amount of red onions may need to be adjusted accordingly.

The onions are known for their health benefits due to its high concentration of antioxidants.

While these red onions also work well for cooking, they do not caramelize as well as yellow onions; thus may not be ideal for certain recipes.

Red onion can be used in both raw and cooked forms such as in salads, burgers, sandwiches and other dishes that require small amounts of raw onion or slight milder or sweet flavor when cooked.

3 – Sweet Onions

sweet onions

Sweet onions are the go-to substitute for yellow onions, as they have a similarly mild flavor.

Their large size and thick skins make them excellent for grilling, roasting and braising.

Sweet onions tend to be more expensive than yellow onions, but their higher sugar content also means they won’t have quite as strong of a flavor as yellow onions.

While Vidalia and Walla Walla sweet onions are some of the most widely available sweet varieties, you can also find shallot-onions or Texas 1015s that make great substitutes when you don’t have yellow onions on hand.

4 – Scallions


Scallions, also known as green onions, are an ideal substitution for yellow onions in many dishes.

They have a mild flavor and possess a crisp texture.

Thus, they do not overpower your dish like yellow onions would.

Scallions are characterized by their long, slender stalks and have a white base with rounded green tips.

Due to its onion-like flavor, you can use scallions in stir-fries or as toppings on meals using fish or poultry.

You can also raw them or use them to make salads.

Scallions pair well with other aromatics like garlic and ginger.

5 – Shallots


Shallots are most similar to yellow onions in flavor and texture, but have a milder, more delicate taste.

They are milder than other onions, but have a slightly sweeter taste than yellow onions.

It can be used in both cooked and raw dishes, they can also be caramelized just like the yellow onion.

When cooked they produce a soft, buttery texture.

Shallots are usually smaller than yellow onions and can be separated into cloves or sections like garlic.

These sections can then be minced or chopped to get the desired texture for your dish.

They add great flavor to omelets, pasta sauces, salads and any other dish that you would normally use a yellow onion in.

substitutes for yellow onions

The 5 Best Substitutes for Yellow Onions

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Substitutes


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


  • Choose your preferred substitute from the list of options.
  • Organize all of your ingredients.
  • Use the proper substitute to cook your recipes.
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