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Onions..white or yellow?

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What is the difference and for what type of recipe would one use white instead of yellow.

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  1. Some of the large white onions are sweet and mild, for eating raw in salads and sandwiches. I've read that the medium white is interchangeable with the common yellow onion, though I have found them to be slightly milder. There are a number of sweet onions - vidalia, 10/15, and others. Spanish onions are large and yellow, and not always all that mild. Ditto for the red ones. A produce manager once told me that if an onion is sweet, it will be labeled as such, and will be flat at the poles. When in doubt, I've followed the latter advice, which has proven true - so far! For basic cooking, I shop by price rather than color.

    1. I tend to use yellow onions, unless the recipe calls for red or white, or I'm out yellow. I find that 'non-sweet' white onions can have a sharper flavor than yellow ones. I do use white as garnish though - i.e., chopped for smoked salmon, caviar, on hotdogs and hamburgers.

      1. White onions have a sharper flavor than yellow onions and, when you cut into one, you'll find it to be higher in moisture than it's yellow cousin. I think they saute better than the yellow onion, perhaps because of the higher moisture content, and (again perhaps because of it's moisture content) seems to be a bit less pungent than the yellow. I prefer white onions for stews, soups, etc. but I will use the white and yellow interchangeably from time to time; depending on what I have on hand.
        Yellow onions are very pungent. That's because they're high in sulfur. But for the onion lover there is no better onion when thinly sliced on a sandwich or burger. When I want the onion flavor to stand out in a dish I use yellow onions. This my "go to" onion for casseroles, sauted for topping off a nice steak with mushrooms and onions, etc.

        1. Thank you all for your replies. I've actually never purchased a white onion; but now, for sauteing and stews, I will.

          1. If I'm cooking them, I'll use either white or yellow. If raw, I'll soak either in ice water to reduce the raw onion bite.

            1. Where I live (SF Bay Area) the white onions are noticeably milder than the yellow.

              1. White onions are better eaten raw with Korean BBQ.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  We usually have in the pantry a variety of onions for different purposes....
                  Shallots; Vidalia in season; Spanish; Bermudas or Red, as they're called now-a-days; the very mild whites. Yellows onions, I always thought, were ubiquitous....the onion to use when all else were unavailable....with a very sharp taste.

                  I also find that organically grown onions seem to be much more pungent, if that's the right word, than commercially grown onions.

                  I

                2. Yellow storage onions are the gold standard for long-duration cooking, along with red onions. White and sweet (non-storage) yellow onions are better for raw use (but be sure to rinse sliced onions in cold water if they are to be eaten raw).