To Cry, or Not To Cry... Which Onion is the Best?

Written By Geremy Capone

For most recipes, the humble-and-yet-so-important onion is where it all begins. Such a simple yet complex ingredient, so intense that when sliced it can make a grown man cry. Yet treated with low heat and some time, it becomes sweet, jammy and so delicious that… well, it can make a grown man cry. Maximize the potential of this unsung hero in your meals by choosing the right type of onion for the right recipe.

Image of a yellow onion
Yellow onion
Image of a white onion
White onion
Image of a sweet onion
Sweet onion
Image of a red onion
Red onion
Image of shallots
Image of green onions
Green onions

Yellow/Spanish/Cooking Onions

This onion is usually the cheapest onion in the produce section and tends to have the longest shelf life in your pantry. Its mild taste doesn’t offer much in its raw form, but it does build a great foundation for flavour when gently sautéed at the beginning of your recipe. These onions are also high enough in sugar to get great caramelization, prefect for French onion soup.

White Onions

Used a lot in fresh salsas and guacamole due to its high crunch factor, this onion is the go-to for Mexican food. Raw white onions have a very bright flavor that is noticeable in dishes. Use the thin layers raw to add a little zip to any dish.

Sweet Onions (Vidalia, Walla Walla, Bermuda, Maui...)

With a low sulfur content, these onions are sweet, like the name suggests. Delicious cooked or raw, sweet onions are great for any recipe where you want a little less bite. Sweet onions don’t keep as long as cooking onions, so use them up first.

Red/Purple Onions

Vibrant colour and a taste to match,. this onion packs a punch. It is great to use raw when you want to add a bite to your salad or dips. If you’re looking to take off a little edge, soak your sliced or chopped onions for 5 minutes in a little cold water with a splash of vinegar before adding to your dish.


The mildest flavor in the group, this bulb lends itself well to dressings and sauces where you’d want to introduce a small bite without it being too intense.

Scallions/Green Onions

A much lighter onion flavour with bright and fresh finish, you can eat the bulb and the stalk. Scallions are best when cut fresh and used fresh to finish a dish, or gently cooked in egg or soup dishes.