Skip to content

Kitchen Tip: How to Use Different Types of Onions

Recipe, video and photography provided by Heinen’s partner, Chef Billy Parisi.

Onions are versatile and can enhance a recipe’s flavor, aroma, sweetness and texture. All onions, no matter the type, are crunchy when raw, crispy when fried and soft when cooked.

Have you ever shopped Heinen’s Produce Department and wondered which onion to pick? This guide will walk you through the different flavor profiles and uses for onions.

Sweet Onion

Sweet onions come in many varieties. They’re not innately sweet, they simply have less sulfur, which allows you to taste all of their natural sugars. They are yellow on the outside and flatter than a traditional onion.

Sweet onions aren’t as sharp as others. They are great served raw, sliced for a salad, in relishes, on burgers and sandwiches, or even as onion rings.

Red Onion

Slightly sweet and still mild enough to eat raw, these onions have a purple, magenta-like color on the outside, making them a great garnish! Red onions can be round or globe-shaped.

These onions are best served thinly sliced on burgers or sandwiches. Red onions are often used for pickling and make a tangy topping for tacos or grain bowls.

Yellow Onion

Yellow onions are the most commonly sold onion and have a yellow-bronze coloring. They’re round in shape and tend to be on the spicier side due to a high sulfur content. This onion’s strong taste relaxes quite a bit and turns into a sweetness when roasted or caramelized.

White Onion

These have a thin white skin and are much milder in flavor compared to yellow onions, which means you can eat them cooked or raw. The flavor finishes quicker on your palate than other onions. White onions are great in salsas or guacamole and are sweet enough for salads or pizza.


Shallots are small with a light brown skin and a magenta-purple flesh. Shallot bulbs are very similar to garlic with multiple clusters. Shallots are much milder in flavor because they’re smaller, but they can still pack a punch! Shallots are not as commonly used in recipes in the United States, but are excellent roasted or added raw to vinaigrette or pickled.

Chef Billy Parisi

By Chef Billy Parisi

Chef Billy Parisi is a culinary school grad who spent 15 years in the restaurant industry as a line cook, sous chef and executive chef. Now he develops, photographs and films simple and delicious recipes that will make everyone feel like a chef in their own kitchen.

Related Recipes & Stories