Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

White and yellow onions are interchangeable

For a long time, I thought that the white and yellow onions I saw in the market were essentially the same except for the skin and flesh color. But no, there are real differences. For long-cooked dishes such as stews these differences don’t matter but in other applications they might.

White onions are a bit milder and less pungent than the yellow. They are also a bit more expensive, usually. This means the white are preferred for use raw or when quickly cooked–think potato salad, sandwiches, stir fries, and so on. The yellow may provide a bit more flavor in long-cooked dishes such as stews and soups.

These are minor differences, to be sure, and with the wide availability of “sweet” onions such as Vidalia it is less important. But there you have it!

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