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Top 6 Spanish Onions Substitute For Any Recipe.

What if you’ve used all your Spanish onions? Is there anything else in your pantry you can use? The good news is that there are some great Spanish onion substitutes that can save the day and your dish.

Spanish onions make the best additions to salad and sandwiches. Its mellow and sweet flavor elevates dishes. We’ve included the list of top substitutes and some tips for you to choose the best one for your recipe.

spanish onion on the back table

What Is a Spanish Onion? 

A Spanish onion is a variant of the yellow onion that hails from the Mediterranean. They’re unique in two ways. 

First, they have higher sugar content than other yellow onions. This makes Spanish onions sweet enough for you to be able to eat them raw. 

Second, they are low in sulfur as they are grown in low-sulfur soil. These growing conditions give Spanish onions a mild flavor. That said, they do not taste as intense as red onions. Plus, chopping Spanish onions barely make you cry.

Spanish onions have golden, paper-like skin. You’ll see white or light yellow flesh when you cut them open. Sometimes, they can also be greenish-white. 

You can buy Spanish onions at your local grocery store or farmers’ markets. They are usually placed alongside yellow onions. Sometimes, they are even labeled as such.

What Are the Best Uses of Spanish Onions? 

When raw, Spanish onions are added to salads, sandwiches, and burgers as a garnish.

If you use them in cooked dishes, they are best when caramelized and lightly cooked. Overcooked Spanish onions tend to lose their flavor. 

You can also use Spanish onions for onion rings. They are also an ingredient in soups and stews.

Their sweet taste also makes them perfect for dips and dressings. Spanish onions are also added to casseroles, pizzas, and tacos.

Best Substitutes for Spanish Onions 

Depending on your recipe, other onion varieties can be used as a substitute. One thing to note: the milder the onion, the better alternative to the Spanish onion.

Here are 6 of the best Spanish onion substitutes.

1. White Onions.

White onions are popular in Mexican cuisine and are milder than red onions. These onions have a sharper flavor than yellow onions. They do not stray away from Spanish onions’ taste, so they make good substitutes. 

Spanish onions are also juicy, so white onions are commonly used in salsas and tacos. White onions can be fried, grilled, and sauteed. They also make good additions to guacamole recipes and sandwiches. A white onion can be cooked or eaten raw, so it is quite versatile. 

These onions are also inexpensive and easy to find, so they are a great option.

2. Sweet Onions.

Like Spanish onions, you can also eat regular sweet onions raw due to their delectable taste. Unlike red onions, they don’t have a high sulfur content. As a result, their sweetness overshadows their onion flavor, and they do not have an intense onion flavor. For this reason, they are the best substitute for Spanish onions. This is especially true in dishes where sweetness is important. 

They are a bit firmer, so they can stand heat better. This makes them perfect for both raw and cooked dishes. These are also great for making caramelized onions. Cooked this way, their sweet taste becomes even more evident.

Use sweet onions to substitute Spanish onions when making onion rings. They are also great for salads and dressings. 

3. Vidalia Onions 

Vidalia onions are a variant of sweet onions. You can expect the same sweetness from them. Vidalia onions will work in all recipes that call for Spanish onions, including raw ones. 

What’s so special about Vidalia onions is that they can only be labeled as such if they come from Vidalia, Georgia. Plus, they are seasonal and can be difficult to find when they are off-season. 

Vidalia season runs from April to August. Depending on the volume of harvest, they may be unavailable come September. 

4. Walla Walla Onions 

Yet another variant of the sweet onion you can use as a Spanish onion substitute is Walla Walla onions. Walla Walla onions are only grown in Walla Walla Valley. This is a federally protected area in southern Washington and northern Oregon. If onions are not grown there, they cannot be called Walla Walla onions. 

The soil there has low sulfur content. This means that these onions also have low sulfur and are mostly sweet. The only downside is that these onions do not hold that well in heat because of their high water content. This is why it is commonly used in raw dishes, but they can be lightly cooked, too. They can be added as a garnish to burgers and sandwiches. 

These onions also taste best when added to salsa and other uncooked sauces and dips. They also make good pizza toppings and work in pasta dishes. 

Walla Walla onions are only harvested from June to August. Because of this, they can be off the market after these months. If you’re looking for a substitute available all year round, this is not for you. You are better off with other onions on this list.

5. Yellow Onions 

Regular yellow onions are also perfect alternatives to Spanish onions. After all, Spanish onions are a type of yellow onion. Yellow onions are popular because of their use in a classic French Onion Soup recipe. 

They’re also called cooking onions, so they are suitable for cooking. But raw yellow onions are also used in some recipes. 

The main difference between them is that regular yellow onions are not as sweet. Yet, they can still be a suitable replacement in all recipes. They’re also easy to find in grocery stores, so you will not have trouble buying some.

Most households have yellow onions in stock for everyday cooking needs. Plus, they’re perfect for caramelizing. Use them instead if you don’t have Spanish onions. 

6. Red Onions 

As a last resort, red onions can be considered as Spanish onions substitutes too. They have an intense onion flavor and high sulfur content. For this reason, red onions usually make you tear up once you slice them. 

When raw, they are intensely sweet and spicy. Cooking them mellows their flavor a bit. This makes them good alternatives for cooked dishes. Yet, they can alter the final flavor of your dish due to their strong taste. 

This pungent flavor is not always unwelcome, though. For people who like spicy food, red onions are great options. They make sandwiches and burgers tastier.

The good thing about red onions is that they are literally everywhere. You might even have red onions already at home. This makes them a good swap when you’re in a hurry. 

How To Choose The Best Spanish Onions Substitute

Choosing the best alternative for Spanish onions might seem tricky. Yet, it gets easier once you know what you’re looking for. Here are some points to consider before making your choice. 

1. Consider whether you’re making a raw or cooked dish.

Some onions, like Spanish onions, are great when raw or lightly cooked. Other kinds can handle heat better. Thus, consider whether your recipe is raw or cooked when choosing a substitute. 

When making cooked dishes, go for red onions, sweet onions, or yellow onions. They’re ideal for cooking. For raw dishes, you can use Walla Walla or white onions.

2. Pay attention to the flavor intensity.

Always remember that the onion’s flavor will affect the taste of your dish. Spanish onions are sweet and mild. That said, when selecting what to replace it with, you should also go with milder onions. 

Choose yellow onions or Vidalia onions. Their mild and sweet taste will not overwhelm the flavors of the other ingredients. 

Red onions can be too strong for some people. Yet, if you want an intense onion flavor on your final dish, choose red onions. 

3. Consider the availability.

Finally, you should also consider the availability of your alternatives. Not all grocery stores carry all kinds of onions. 

If you are in a hurry and have no time to go to the farmer’s market, then opt for those that are readily available. Yellow onions, sweet onions, and red onions are your best bets. 

Vidalia and Walla Walla onions have special growing seasons, so you should also take note of that. 

Are Spanish Onions Healthy?

Onions, including Spanish onions, are healthy additions to your diet. They have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Onions are low in calories but high in potassium. They are also good fiber, folate, copper, and manganese sources. 

What Is The Main Difference Between A Regular Onion And A Spanish Onion?

Spanish onion is different from a regular onion because it is sweeter. Regular yellow onions have a higher sulfur content, so they do not taste as mild as Spanish onions. This sulfur content overpowers its sweetness. When using a yellow onion instead of a Spanish one, you should cook it longer. This way, you can make the taste milder as onions lose flavor the longer they are cooked. 


Spanish onions are used in many dishes because of their sweet flavor. They elevate any dish they’re added to since their mild taste pairs well with many other ingredients. 

Though they are distinctly sweet, many onion varieties can replace them. You just have to choose which one suits your dish best. For an equally sweet replacement, go for Vidalia onions. If you want a more intense-tasting dish, then red onions are the best choice. 

At the end of the day, the replacement you choose will depend on your preference. Now that you know more about other onions, making a choice will be easier.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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