What's The Difference Between Using Red Onions And White Onions

This never-ending debate is all about preference.

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ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

What onion do you have in your kitchen? Do you have only red onions or do you also have white or yellow onions, too? Maybe you even have shallots or the sibuyas Tagalog as well? 

There are many varieties of onions available but did you know that the common red onion is actually the sweetest among the onions? It's the best when raw since it's not as pungent as the other popular varieties. The red onion's sweetness is the reason why it's the onion of choice when it comes to roasting or grilling onions. The sugars char and caramelize better in red onions than in the white or yellow.

However, when it comes to caramelizing onions, making French onion soup, and other cooked dishes, the red onion isn't the first choice in Western recipes. The red onions are used primarily for salads, burger toppings, and other dishes that love the red onion's mild flavor and vibrant purple-red hue.   


Red onions are more than just a pretty onion. While it's concentric red coloring gives a fantastic and appealing touch of color to dishes, it does more than make your salad more Instagram-worthy. 

So, can you use the red onion for cooking

The red onion is best served raw but you can use it for cooking, too.
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The simple answer is yes, you can.  


As you probably know, red onions are a staple in our cuisine along with garlic and tomatoes. When raw, it's got a sharper flavor as well as a stronger smell, especially when freshly sliced. It's less prone to making your breath smell and it's still sweet to the taste. All these things don't mean that you shouldn't cook with red onions. 

Just like yellow onions, it can be sauteed, stir-fried, simmered, and yes, even caramelized. The main difference is that the red onion will lose some of its characteristic flavor when cooked versus when eaten raw. Red onions deliver a milder onion flavor to dishes when cooked while still giving a dish color. It not only becomes sweeter just like other onions but its color deepens, too. When browned and caramelized, its purple and white circles become reddish to red-brown, signaling that it's ready to be taken off the heat. When you let it sweat, it will have a translucent purple that's subtly sweet. When fried, red onions turn red-brown that is fantastic as crispy onions on top of almost any dish but especially great piled on top of stews.  


Red onions create a gorgeous side dish when roasted when garlic, potatoes, and carrots in a roast meat dish, too. 

Yellow onions are great onions but the red onion is just as great an ingredient for your dishes as any other onion. 



Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here!

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