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Raw onion haters: what do you sub?

So I'm sure I'm not the only person out there who cannot deal with raw onion in sandwiches, salads, dips, etc. Thought it would be interesting to hear from other chowhounders about what you've used in different recipes as replacements. Sometimes I'll just leave it out, but I've also recently started subbing in diced radishes, as they give you that nice crunch and have a little bit of a bite. The other day I made Ina Garten's wasabi tuna roll and in that case I used some daikon radish since I had some leftover and it worked very well with the asian flavors and cut through some of the creaminess of the avocado.

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  1. Radishes are a great idea. Celery too.
    I enjoy raw red onions in salads (lettuce and mayo salads) but can not stand any other onion raw.
    Regular onions have to be really, really caramelized for me to enjoy on burgers and other hot sandwiches. Never warmed up to them on cheesesteaks. Ruins it for me.

    3 Replies
    1. re: monavano

      I can't stand even red onions in salads. The only time it doesn't bother me is if they're very finely diced in something like salsa or ceviche, with other strong flavors masking the intensity of the onion. But cooked I'm fine, in fact caramelized onions are one of my favorite foods. I can stand it if they're just softened, though. Once they get past the point of losing the crunchiness is usually when the flavor is tolerable to me.

      1. re: arielleeve

        I can stand it if they're just softened, though. Once they get past the point of losing the crunchiness is usually when the flavor is tolerable to me.
        Me too! There's a tipping point where they go from yuck to yum, and that's it.

        1. re: arielleeve

          Consider pickling the onions. The acid and salt in the ceviche in effect does this, but in Latin America, freshly pickled onions like this accompany many dishes.

      2. i just omit them occasionally i will use scallions, but i just don't like any of that stuff raw, not red, white, yellow or vidalia onions. not leeks. i used to not mind raw garlic, but have stopped liking that too, so for something like pesto i omit it there as well.

        the flavors are just too acrid.

        i like radish and daikon but not as onion subs. they have their jobs to do.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Thank you- acrid- good word for raw garlic. Just can't do it. Hate it rubbed raw on crostini, raw in gremolata and pesto.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I agree totally. Tip for garlic: Boil peeled cloved for a few minutes and use them instead of raw ones.

          2. I have started using the hints in this thread, which help


            but I also like to sub cuke slickes, crisp dill pickle slices, radishes and (in tuna salad, etc) celery.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pinehurst

              Celery always goes into tuna salad, but last batch I had none and used radishes (DH's suggestion-- whoa! good one) and they were great.

            2. I have found if I soak the onions for 15 min in water it takes away enough the bite that I can now eat onions in salads. I also add less than the recipe calls for. But I do like your idea of subbing radishes for onions in dishes. Jicama might also work as a sub for the crunch as well as water chestnuts.

              1. Slow roasted onions and garlic take the edge off and make for a more delicate flavor.

                1. Have you ever used rehydrated dried minced onion? It's much less harsh.

                  Also, unless you are using genuine sweet non-storage onions (like Vidalia), raw onions should be soaked/rinsed in cold water and patted dry, to remove bitterness.

                  1. I would imagine some of the pickled carrots/pickled radishes they use in the Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches would work...never tried it though because raw onions are awesome in sandwiches, burgers, burritos, and whatnot.

                    1. Fresh chives for flavor. I like your suggestion of using radishes for the comvination of crunch and bite.

                      1 Reply
                      1. I'm not at all big on a big old slice of raw onion on my burger, but if its chopped up well, or better yet, grilled. . . .

                        In my life i have bit into a big chunk of onion one too many times in a tuna salad; same with supposedly finely chopped celery ~~ and not only in tuna salad, in dressing for poultry, meatloaf, etc. Some folks just do not pay attention.

                        I have learned to not put onion in said tuna salad, I buy a can of sliced water chestnuts and chop them up very well. If I just must have onion-y taste, I'll use chopped green onions.

                        I absolutely hate Hate HATE biting into onion texture, even in cooked pearl onions.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: laliz

                          blargh. zomg, i despise pearl onions in any and all ways. the only thing worse is cocktail onions.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            I could not agree more. The only thing I ever did with cocktail onions that i liked was put them in a jar with water and label them "eyeballs" for Halloween.
                            That being said, I either exclude the raw onion all together or substitute diced celery. More often I just skip it. I used to really like raw onion in things but my current bf does not. I stopped using them to please his palate and lost a taste for them. I really don't care for them at all anymore. Its funny that i came across this today as I got take out burgers for myself and a client and they put onions on mine and it was a rude awakening upon the first bite.

                        2. I usually sub in scallions. I like the onion flavor, but I developed an aversion to the standard raw onions during my last pregnancy that still hasn't gone away.

                          1. I'm another one of those people who can't stand raw onions, even the sweet kind, and I also really prefer caramelized onions, but for those who the objection is a matter of acridness, there's a couple of things they can do.

                            1. Use sweet onions for your "raw" or near raw applications. Sweet onions are grown in soils with less sulfur, and will contain less sulfonic compounds, and will taste less acrid when raw (using sweet onions doesn't benefit you when they are cooked, and may indeed be counterproductive in some recipes, since there was a study that certain sulfur compound(s) in onions actually help contribute to the meaty flavor in dishes.

                            2. A brief soak in water will not only remove some of the sulfur from the onions, but it will make it easier to cut them up as well. I've also heard you can soak them in vinegar, but I haven't tried this, except for

                            3. Quick pickle the onions! My family loves this. Eats them on salads.