Types of Onions: Characteristics and Uses

Types of Onions: Characteristics and Uses


One of the natural ingredients that occurs most in recipes in a large part of the world is the onion . With an unmistakable flavour, its extreme versatility and ability to enhance the flavor of any type of dish also make it the “queen” of the kitchen.

White, golden, red onions: characteristics of the varieties

There are several existing varieties, all with specific characteristics and benefits .

In terms of taste , golden onions are the most neutral and those that adapt to the greatest number of recipes, unlike the white ones , which have a decidedly more intense flavour.

Red onions are quite similar to golden ones, but slightly crunchier.

Finally, sweets have a more delicate scent and are suitable only for certain types of dishes .

Benefits of the different varieties of Onions

In addition to giving that extra bit of flavor to dishes, onions are an excellent source of nutrients , which lead to a very high number of benefits . Regardless of which type you choose to consume, they are all antioxidants and contain a flavonoid known as quercetin which fights free radicals , improves cardiovascular health , protects against certain types of cancer and keeps triglycerides , blood pressure and cholesterol at bay . For these characteristics, onions are considered among the most valid foods in the fight against arteriosclerosis.

Regularly introducing onions into your diet is also important because these foods  reduce blood sugar levels , have antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and stimulate the immune system .

These foods are also a good source of probiotics , elements that feed the healthy bacteria in the gut , restoring intestinal balance and improving the entire ecosystem.

Thanks to the large amount of water they contain, they also have diuretic properties . Finally, they strengthen the bones , preventing osteoporosis .

Is there an onion more beneficial than the others?

While all types of onions are a valuable health tool for the body, one type in particular seems to have extra power against free radicals .

These are  red onions , which owe their color to the presence of anthocyanins , water-soluble dyes belonging to the flavonoid family which would appear to have antidiabetic, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and anti-obesity properties, and which would help prevent cardiovascular disease .

How to choose the variety of onions to buy?

Although red onions seem, on paper, to have an edge over the others, this does not mean that they are absolutely the best.

In fact, there are many variables to calculate when faced with a purchase decision at the supermarket. Which, based on personal experience, are digested better? Which do they like best? Which ones best suit the recipe you have in mind?

Onions are among the fruits and vegetables that can be grown simply at home with scraps.

Onion digestion

To absorb most of the nutrients and therefore benefit from their properties, the ideal would be to eat them raw , even if many people find it difficult to digest them .

Although the feeling of heaviness on the stomach that onions often leave appears less often after a light cooking , however, it is not a rule valid for everyone but a very subjective physical reaction which can also depend on the type chosen. In short, every organism reacts differently to each of them.

Onions: properties and uses in the kitchen


  • Red onions: they express their maximum taste cooked on the grill , eaten alone or as an accompaniment to steaks, hamburgers and sandwiches . Also excellent raw cut into thin slices as a salad dressing.
  • White onions: Their most common use is in the bases of traditional recipes and sauces. First of all, the Italian fried which, in addition to the white onion cut into very small cubes, provides for the addition of carrots and celery to be browned in olive oil .
  • Golden onions:  they are one of the most ductile varieties and this makes them suitable for many uses. They hardly clash with any recipe, but the dishes in which their flavor is enhanced the most are stews and roasts.
  • Sweet onions:  not everyone likes them, precisely because of their slightly sweet taste, which makes them different from the others. If you decide to use them, however, the advice is not to distort their nature but to support it. To do this, the ideal is to caramelize them, use them in sweet and sour recipes or to garnish dishes. Also excellent in the form of jam .
  • Shallots:  from the onion family, although their appearance is decidedly different, they are characterized by a soft but distinct flavour. Multi-purpose variety, it goes very well with many recipes but gives its best caramelized, confit or eaten raw, as a salad dressing or potato- based dishes .
  • Spring onions: Visually they look like a cross between an onion and a shallot and they too have endless uses. They can be eaten raw in salads or grilled, roasted or stewed. Perfect to taste also in the form of accompanying sauces.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *