Which Onion Is Best For Cooking?

You may be wondering which onion is best for cooking. There are so many types available at the supermarket, and each one has its uses in the kitchen. Know the difference between yellow and red onions to save yourself from running out of an ingredient. Listed below are the benefits of each. Read on for more information and which one is best to buy.

Onion Nutrition Facts

onion nutrition facts

What Is An Onion?

Onions are categorized as vegetables because they are allium, like shallots, garlic, and scallions. They are nutrient-dense vegetables because their bulbs store nutrients to ensure the plant’s survival. Onions are high in fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and iron while low in calories. They also work as a prebiotic, which means they nourish the good bacteria in your gut, beneficial to your overall health. What a nutrient-dense vegetable!

Is Onion Healthy For You?

Though all veggies are beneficial to one’s health, many types have distinct advantages. Garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives are part of the Allium genus of flowering plants containing onions. These veggies are high in vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals that have been demonstrated to improve health in various ways. Indeed, onions’ medicinal benefits have been known since ancient times, when they were used to treat headaches, heart illness, and mouth ulcers.

Here are some impressive health benefits of onions:

Packed With Nutrients

Onions are nutrient-dense, which means they have few calories but a lot of vitamins and minerals. One medium onion contains only 44 calories but a significant amount of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Vitamin C, a nutrient involved in immunological function, collagen formation, tissue healing, and iron absorption, is abundant in this crop. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant in your body, protecting your cells from damage caused by unstable chemicals known as free radicals. Onions are high in B vitamins, such as folate (B9) and pyridoxine (B6), essential for metabolism, red blood cell synthesis, and neurological function.

May Benefit Heart Health

Onions are high in antioxidants and substances that combat inflammation, cut triglycerides, and lower cholesterol, all of which may lessen the risk of heart disease. Their anti-inflammatory effects may also aid in the reduction of excessive blood pressure and the prevention of blood clots. Onions contain a high concentration of quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant, and it may help reduce heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure because it’s an anti-inflammatory. When compared to a placebo, a dose of 162 mg per day of quercetin-rich onion extract reduced systolic blood pressure by 3–6 mmHg in 70 overweight persons with high blood pressure. Onions have been shown to lower cholesterol levels as well. In a study of 54 women with PCOS, eating substantial amounts of raw red onions (40–50 grams per day if overweight, 50–60 grams per day if obese) for eight weeks lowered total and “bad” LDL cholesterol compared to a control group.

Loaded With Antioxidants

Antioxidants prevent oxidation, which causes cellular damage and contributes to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. Onions are high in antioxidants and are a good source of them, and they include approximately 25 different types of flavonoid antioxidants. Red onions, in particular, contain anthocyanins, which are flavonoid plant pigments that give red onions their dark hue. According to many population studies, people who eat more foods high in anthocyanins had a lower risk of heart disease. For example, a study of 43,880 males found that daily anthocyanin intakes as high as 613 mg were linked to a 14 percent decreased risk of nonfatal heart attacks. Similarly, a study of 93,600 women found that those who consumed the most anthocyanin-rich foods were 32 percent less likely to have a heart attack than those who consumed the least.

Help Control Blood Sugar

Onions may aid in blood sugar regulation, which is particularly important for diabetes or prediabetes. In a study of 42 persons with type 2 diabetes, eating 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of fresh red onion for four hours lowered fasting blood sugar levels by roughly 40 mg/dl. In addition, several animal studies have demonstrated that eating onions can help with blood sugar regulation. Diabetic rats fed the diet with 5% onion extract for 28 days had lower fasting blood sugar and much less body fat than the control group. Onions contain anti-diabetic properties, such as quercetin and sulfur compounds.

How To Choose The Right Type Of Onion For Cooking?

Though most alliums are known for enhancing the flavor of meals, not all of them are made equal. And you can’t always substitute one onion for another (unless you want your cuisine to taste completely different!) Here’s how to make the most of every type of allium.


These guys are surprisingly flexible, and they taste great cooked or raw. Use uncooked shallots in our favorite vinaigrette, or fry them and sprinkle them on soups, salads, noodle meals, and more! Shallots are splendid when roasted, in addition to adding a nice flavor and pleasing crunch (like in this beautifully roasted chicken).

Cipollini Onions

Cipollini onions are more significant than pearl but smaller and flatter than the onion you presumably have on your kitchen counter. They are best fried. When cooked, they become “lovely, creamy, and have a depth of umami,” according to Heck. Although they are delicious in an agrodolce or as a side dish, they are a little more durable than pearl onions when cooked. As a result, we like to include them in our Classic Beef Pot Roast to add a rich umami flavor.

Pearl Onions

These are a little more difficult to peel, but they’re well worth the extra effort. Pearl onions are elegant enough to stand alone as a side dish, but they’re also great in nearly any sauce (try substituting pearl onions for shallots in our favorite mushroom sauce!) If you don’t feel like peeling all of the little pearl onions before dinner, frozen pearl onions will suffice.

Sweet Onions

Sweet onions are the mildest and sweetest of the lot (thus the name) and are best used when you want a subtle onion flavor that won’t overshadow your recipe. They’re not incredibly sturdy, and if cooked for too long or at too high a temperature, they’ll turn to mush. We recommend sauteing them for 2-3 minutes before combining them with fresh tomatoes, basil, salt, and pepper for a simple pasta sauce or using them in our Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry!

White Onions

This is the onion to use if you like Mexican cooking. They add an onion-y brightness without dominating other flavors, with a bite that doesn’t linger for too long. When eaten raw, white onions are lovely, especially in salsas, salads, and garnish on tacos.

Yellow Onions

Bashinsky describes them as an “excellent general usage onion” with a flavor profile that is halfway between sweet and red onions. These workhorse onions have a high starch content, which allows them to survive high and extended cooking durations without falling apart. Yellow onions are perfect for rich, long-cooking meals like Vegetarian Bolognese or Caramelized Sherry Onions.

Red Onions

These onions, commonly eaten raw, pack a punch and stand up to intense flavors. Their peppery flavor profile makes them the perfect addition to your favorite salsa or fresh salad if you’re looking for a bit of a bite (and color). You can even toss them on the barbecue without fear of the smokey goodness overriding their onion tang because they have such a pungent taste. Don’t stop there, though! Cooked red onions soften and become extremely sweet. Allow them to combine with oil for a few minutes in a frying pan to make a salad topper that will add sweetness and color to your healthy greens.


The main difference between red and yellow onions is the flavor. Red onion is more pungent than a yellow one, and it has a higher price. Fresh red onions are milder but still contain minimal onion flavor. When cooking with yellow onions, it’s best to use fresh red onions. They should be chopped very fine if you’re using them raw and then soaked for at least half an hour before cooking.