Onions are perhaps one of the most common ingredients in the world. There are countless recipes, worldwide, that make use of the vegetable to add depth and richness to a dish.
As well as this, they are also totally fabulous as the main event when caramelized to sweet perfection, or cooked alongside some mature cheddar cheese!
However, because there are so many recipes across the world that require the inclusion of onions, you may often find yourself in that awkward situation that we all dread: running out of onions!
But, if you have found yourself in this situation, you don’t have to panic yet, because there are plenty of substitutes that you can draw on to achieve a similar effect that you would ordinarily get from onions.
But what are some of the very best substitutes for onions out there? And are there any alternatives for some of the most common varieties, like fresh, chopped, and dried onions?
Join us below to find out now!
What Can You Substitute For Fresh Onion?
1. Dried Onions & Onion Powder
If you have completely run out of fresh onions in your kitchen, don’t worry, because there are plenty of alternatives that you can utilize.
Check your kitchen pantry for products such as dried onions and onion powder. These can make for perfect substitutes in a pinch.
Dried onions can be rehydrated by allowing them to soak in water for a short period before cooking, which can help you to achieve that fresh onion texture if that is what you need.
However, you should be wary of the fact that the texture will not be exactly the same, so it may prove unsatisfying.
If you just need access to the iconic flavor of onion in a dish you are making, then you can easily substitute fresh onion with onion powder or minced onion.
These alternatives completely lack the texture of fresh onion, but they have the perfect taste to stand in for it.
2. Red Or Yellow Onions
If you have both red and yellow onions (see also ‘5(½) Substitutes You Can Use Instead Of Spanish Onions‘) in your kitchen, but you find that you are out of one or the other, then in some cases it is perfectly fine to swap one out for the other!
Let’s say you wanted to make a salad that you would scatter some red onion into, if you found that you had run out of red onion, you could easily instead add ordinary onion!
When having red onion stand in for regular onion in a recipe, it is important to note that it may slightly change the appearance of the final dish.
Red onions are naturally much darker, and thus dishes like stews may look very different from what you may usually expect.
As well as this, red onions also have a tendency to release their natural red color as they cook, so you may find that some of your dishes look a little redder than you are usually used to.
You can also use shallots as a replacement for onions, as they are actually remarkably similar! Put simply, shallots are basically just mini onions, and their flavor is not far off from ordinary onions too.
Simply chop up a few shallots and add them in where you normally would add onions, you’ll barely be able to tell the difference once you eat the final recipe!
In order to substitute shallots for onions, you should aim to add two large shallots for every medium onion!
4. Leeks And Green Onions
In place of regular onions, you can also use leeks and green onions. Both of these substitutes belong to the same family of vegetables and have very similar consistencies and tastes.
Leeks (see also ‘The Very Best Substitutes To Use In Place Of Leeks‘) in particular work so well as onion substitutes thanks to the fact that they taste very similar to onions, and have a slightly garlicky flavor that is also rather sweet.
However, it goes without saying that leeks are very different in terms of taste, and while they may still have a crunch that is similar to an onion, they are much thinner.
In order to substitute a leek for an onion, make sure to use one large leek for every medium onion!
Green onions also work fabulously because they are incredibly fragrant and strong in their flavor, thus not only can they stand in easily for regular onions, but they can also help to make any dish taste a thousand times more interesting.
In order to use green onions as a replacement for regular onions, you should aim to use eight green onions in place of every medium onion.
5. Fennel And Celery
If you are really desperate for alternatives, and you are completely out of dry alternatives, then you can also make use of fennel and celery as a replacement.
Fennel and celery taste slightly different from regular onions, so you should generally try to only use them as a last resort, but they work very well regardless.
Fennel has a very strong and recognizable flavor that can best be compared to licorice, but when it is cooked just right it takes on a texture and taste that is very similar to an onion, making it perfect if you are running out of replacement options.
A single bulb of fennel can stand in perfectly for a single medium onion.
Celery, on the other hand, does not taste very much like onion at all, but it does have a very similar texture, so if you are looking for a replacement that has a similar mouthfeel to onion, then this is the option for you.
The unique taste of celery can add a unique twist to any dish you make. To substitute celery for an onion, try to use around 3 celery stalks in place of every onion.
What Can You Use In Place Of Dried Onions?
Found that your recipe needs you to include dried onions, but you have run out? Don’t panic, because there are plenty of things you can use instead.
6. Onion Powder
One of the best things to use in place of dried onion is onion powder.
Onion powder can easily be mixed into dishes of all types, and is also incredibly potent, in terms of its flavor, so you don’t even have to use much in order to achieve onion flavor.
For every cup of dried onions that you may otherwise use, you should substitute around one tablespoon of onion powder in its place.
7. Onion Salt
Onion salt is rather similar to onion powder, in that it takes on a soluble form that can easily be scattered into dishes.
However, you should bear in mind that, because it is a form of salt, it can directly alter the taste of certain recipes, so you should be sure to never use too much, or you will end up with very salty food!
To Wrap Up
Luckily, finding an adequate replacement for onions is very easy, and won’t pose too much of a challenge.
Make sure to stock up on dried onion products such as minced onions, dried onions, onion powder, and onion salt, so that you are prepared for those awkward moments when you run out of regular onions!
You can also use vegetables that are in the same family as onions, such as celery, fennel, green onions, and shallots, to gain access to similar tastes and textures that will seamlessly blend into your dishes.
Don’t be afraid to get creative when substituting onions in your recipes, as you may find that certain ingredients actually work much better when standing in place for them!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Onion Healthy For You?
Yes. Onions are full of nutrients that have incredible antioxidant effects.
These positive effects from onions have actually been linked to reduced risks of various cancers, low blood sugar levels, and have even been linked to improved bone health!
Is Eating Raw Onions Good For You?
Though you likely wouldn’t want to eat raw onions, due to the fact that they won’t taste as nice, raw onions are actually more healthy than cooked onions, because they naturally have more sulfur compounds, due to them not being cooked away yet.
Does Onion Burn Belly Fat?
While onions will not directly burn away belly fat, they are actually a strong source of soluble fiber, which helps to make them very powerful as prebiotics.
Eating plenty of onion can help to ensure that your stomach works effectively, which allows you to more easily digest food, leading to greater weight loss.