The 6 Types Of Onions and When To Use Each One

Walking down certain grocery store aisles can be a bit overwhelming at times. It seems like there are a million different kinds of the same product, and a million different brands offering the same one. In most cases, any of those cans of beans would do just fine for your recipe, but onions, however, are a little bit different.

The onion aisle is a very different place, with a variety of choices that are all unfortunately there for a reason. But don’t worry, here’s how you can make sure you are always choosing the correct on ion for the job.

Sweet Onions

The first onions on the list are Sweet Onions. Due to the fact that they lack that sharp, astringent taste that other onions have, they’re best used making onion rings, gratins, roasted vegetables and really anything you’re going to be frying. 

Red Onions

Red onions tend to have a mild flavour and are often consumed raw, grilled or lightly cooked with other foods. If you want to take full advantage of their natural flavour, they work best for eating raw, making guacamole, putting in salads and sandwiches. 

White Onions

White onions have the shortest life span in the onion family, and should be consumed within a few days of buying them. They’re your best bet for making any homemade salsas, chutneys, stir-fries, and if you’re looking to add some crunch to anything.

Yellow Onions

The yellow onion or brown onion are known for having a strong flavour. It has a much higher sulphur content than the white onion, which helps add some complexity and depth to it’s flavour. If you’re looking for an onion for meat roasts, sauces, soups/stews and just general cooking, this is your go to.  


Shallots, also known as the wild onion, are milder in taste and have a hint of garlic flavour to go with it. They’re best used for vinaigrettes, egg casseroles, and garnishes.


Scallions are the last onion on the list, and are known for not looking like an onion at all. They’re very popular in Chinese and Mexican dishes, and are a great addition to any stir-fry, soup, stew or braised dish.

image credit: SHUTTERSTOCK / ORLIO