We all have come across this question of which onion to use when cooking in the kitchen, and if not you must be an onion genius!In a nutshell this is which onions go best with foods and dishes:
Yellow Onion (Most Commonly Used): Best for almost any dish: roasts, meat dishes (pot roast, rack of lamb, roast chicken, etc.) or as a flavor base for sauces, soups and stews. When this onion cooks, it sweetens up and browns quickly. SO….If you are unsure which one to use, your best bet is to go with a yellow onion!
Sweet Onion (Second Most Common): Best for frying, making soups such as French onion, or for baked gratins, or onion rings. Sweet onions are very similar to yellow ones–except its much sweeter and when you cut into it, it makes perfect rings. It is very sweet without being too pungent or “spicy” as many onions tend to be..If you’ve ever ordered the “Bloomin’ Onion” from Outback Steakhouse, this is definitely the onion they use. YUM!
White Onion (Crunchiest & Sharpest): Best for salsas, stir-fried vegetables, or any other veggie dish where you want to add a little extra crunch. You will notice white onions being used most in Mexican dishes.They are extremely crispy because they have a higher water content.
Red Onion (Easiest to Eat Raw): These are actually one of my favorite..They are best for guacamole, pickling, slicing thin for salads, grilling (for burgers, sandwiches, or even to eat alone!). My favorite way is to grill them for fajitas. 🙂 Red onions are a lot milder, crisp, sweet, and they have a slight bitter aftertaste (so be sure no to kiss anyone after eating them!). *As a fun fact, red onions cause fewer tears while slicing.
Shallot (Most Subtle): Best for salad dressings, mignonettes, and cooked vinegary glazes, or garnishes. Though a shallot is not technically an onion, it has a similar flavor and is less overpowering. Shallots have a little kick to it while being sweet at the same time. I am most familiar eating shallots when eating my favorite shellfish, oysters. They go perfectly as a light vinaigrette sauce.
(Oysters on the half shell from Cafe Fina)