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Vidalia Onion Substitute: 11 Best Alternatives To Try

Vidalia onions are a popular ingredient in many dishes, but it can be challenging to find them year-round. Luckily, there are several alternatives that make good Vidalia onions substitute. This article provides an overview of the best options and explains how to use them in recipes.

Vidalia onion sliced in half on top of the wooden cutting board.

What is Vidalia Onion?

Vidalia onions have a unique sweet flavor that sets them apart from other onions, and they are known for their high sugar content and low sulfur levels.

These sweet onions are grown exclusively in the Vidalia region of Georgia, United States.

The soil there is significantly low in sulfur, the compound responsible for onions’ sharp bite. The temperature and climate in the area also play a critical role in getting the distinct flavor of Vidalia onions.

For this reason, you can only give the name “Vidalia” to onions that grow in one of the 20 counties that the state of Georgia has designated.

The state also sets a start and end of season date annually. And, if the onion was grown outside of the season, it cannot be a Vidalia onion.

Vidalia Onion Festival takes place annually in Vidalia to celebrate the harvest of this beloved vegetable.

History of Vidalia onion

They are named after the town of Vidalia, where they were first grown and marketed in the early 1930s.

In 1931, Moses Coleman discovered that the onions he planted were unusual.

These onions were sweet and mild, as opposed to the regular ones, which were spicy and pungent. Owing to these unique characteristics, Moses put a high price on his harvest – $3.50 per bag weighing 50 pounds each.

This price was steep back then, and selling at that premium was not a walk in the park. But soon enough, people would learn why the sweet yellow onion is unique.

They became willing to pay the price, and the neighboring farms started to catch on. The rest is history.

What Do Vidalia Onions Taste Like?

Vidalia onions are mild-tasting and sweet. After all, they have high sugar content and low sulfur. They’re not pungent, so you won’t tear up when you cut one open.

Because of this, Vidalia onions are great when eaten raw. You can put them in sandwiches and burgers.

They are often used in recipes that call for raw onions or caramelized onions, as their sweetness lends itself well to these preparations.

Reasons for Vidalia Onion Substitutes

As mentioned, Vidalia onions can only come from certain regions. If you don’t live near these regions, you might have difficulty finding Vidalia onions in stores.

You should also remember the limited growing season for Vidalia onions.

So, if you need these onions when they’re not in season, you might not be able to find them.

Also, due to their limited nature, Vidalia onion does fetch a high price tag. Some people might not find it budget-friendly, so opting for a sweet onion substitute makes sense.

Best Vidalia Onion Substitute

Here are our top picks for Vidalia Onion Substitute.

1. Walla Walla Onions

Like Vidalia onions, Walla Walla onions come exclusively from a certain region. Farmers grow these in the valley of Walla Walla, Washington.

The soil there is rich in organic matter, and as a result, Walla Walla onions are sweet, fragrant, and mild. They’re not pungent like red onions, so you can eat them raw like Vidalia onion.

Where Walla Walla onions differ from Vidalia onions is their season runs from June to August. That said, they are more difficult to find. Plus, they are more expensive, especially if you don’t live near where they grow.

But they’re a winner when it comes to flavor match.

You can use them in any recipe that calls for Vidalia. Add these onions raw to salads and salsa, or caramelize them for burgers and sandwiches. They also make the perfect onion rings.

2. Texas Sweet Onions

Grown in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the Texas sweet onion is the product of research and tests.

These onions contain eugenol, which gives them a sweet taste and a tender texture. They also lack the sulfuric taste, so they are mild and pleasant.

For this reason, you can use Texas sweet onions as a Vidalia Onion substitute in all dishes. Do note that these onions are only in season from March until June.

If you can find them, add them to salads and savory baked goods alike. You can also use them for grilling and cooking.

3. Maui Onions

Onion farmers cultivate Maui onion on the Mt. Haleakala slopes, Maui, Hawaii. Like Vidalia onions, Maui onions are low in sulfur and high in sugar.

Because of these characteristics, Maui onions do not have a sharp taste and bite. That said, they make a great Vidalia onion substitute.

However, one of the biggest factors is that Maui onions are only abundant in Hawaii.

In the mainland US, you may find them in specialty stores and online retailers. That said, they are not the most accessible option.

These onions are best eaten raw as they are juicy and tasty. Should you choose to cook them, they are perfect for caramelizing.

Add them to burgers, steaks, and even soup that call for Vidalia onions. When you do, you’ll barely notice the difference.

4. Potato Onions

Potato onions resemble potatoes. And they can propagate by themselves. For this reason, people also call them pregnant onions.

Regarding flavor, though, a potato onion is less intense than a red onion. However, it is not as mild and sweet as a Vidalia onion too.

Still, you can use fresh potato onions to replace Vidalia onions in sandwiches and salads. The distinct onion flavor will be there, but it won’t be overpowering. Potato onions also take to caramelization well.

Caramelize potato onions in low heat before adding them to casseroles and stews. Use them in dishes where you don’t mind having a slightly less sweet onion.

5. Yellow Onions or Brown Onions

Another great Vidalia onion substitute is yellow onion. Yellow onions, also known as brown onions, are among the most common onions in the market.

They’re affordable and versatile as their flavor is the in-between of white onions and red onions.

Yellow onions are not that mild, so most people find eating them raw off-putting. Compared to Vidalia onions, yellow or brown onions are not sweet when raw. If you caramelize them, they can have a hint of sweetness that will translate to your dishes.

That said, they are best for substituting Vidalia onions in cooked dishes. Use yellow onions such as onion soup, roasted meat, and vegetables. Yellow onions also make great toppings for cooked meats like pork chops.

6. White Onions

White onions are abundant in the market. So, they make an accessible option for a Vidalia onion substitute. Regarding flavor, white onions are a lot sharper than Vidalia onions.

They have the slightest hint of sweetness, so don’t expect them to sweeten your recipes. Choose white onions as a Vidalia onion replacement in recipes that need a stronger onion flavor rather than a sweet taste.

Use in salads, white sauces, and even guacamole. White onions are also great pizza toppings.

Note that white onions do not hold as well as Vidalia when you heat them. Use them in dishes that do not require very long cooking times, or they will get soggy.

Similarly, they will do good in recipes that need mashed onions due to their delicate texture.

7. Red Onions

Choose red onions for dishes that will benefit from an intense bite and strong onion flavor. As a Vidalia onion substitute, red onions are accessible and affordable.

You can buy them in almost every store. But, given their versatility in cooking, you probably have them on hand.

Do consider that they have a purple hue when raw, along with a spicy taste. Using red onions to replace Vidalia onions in uncooked recipes will result in a change in flavor. And, of course, your dish also won’t look the same.

But cooking red onions turn them translucent and white. Plus, heat mellows its spiciness, and caramelization brings out a subtle sweet flavor.

For this reason, they work best as an alternative to Vidalia onions if you cook them. So, choose red onions for soups and casseroles.

You can still use them to substitute Vidalia onions as toppings. You just have to caramelize them first for a closer flavor match.

8. Shallots

Another viable swap for Vidalia onions is shallots. They share similarities with red onions. The only difference is that they are smaller and elongated rather than round.

Do not underestimate their small size, though, as they pack a lot of flavors. Cooking them makes them lose color and some of their spiciness, though. So, like red onions, you should use them as a Vidalia onion replacement in cooked dishes.

Consider that shallots burn faster than Vidalias. Be careful not to overcook them, or else they’ll turn bitter.

Shallots also have low sugar content. You are better off using them in recipes that do not get most of their sweet taste from Vidalia onions.

9. Scallions

Scallions or green onions are also great Vidalia onion replacements. They have a mild flavor reminiscent of onions but come with some peppery notes.

If you don’t mind your recipe having a subtle peppery taste, then scallions are excellent options. Scallion bulbs are white like Vidalias, but they are significantly smaller. So buying more scallions to replace an equal amount of Vidalia onions would be best.

Once cooked, scallions get mellow, so you can add them to curries and stews like you’d do Vidalias.

They have bright green leaves. And if you chop these green leaves finely, they can also step in for onions in uncooked dishes like cold salads.

But of course, they will be more noticeable due to their color and make your dish look different.

10. Leeks

You can use leeks to replace Vidalia onions in dishes if you dislike onions. They’re one of the most common vegetables, so you can easily find them in grocery stores.

Leeks are sweet and mild, too, like Vidalia onions. But since they’re not onions, leeks won’t irritate your eyes.

You can eat leeks raw or cooked like Vidalia onions depending on your recipe. If you’re using leek raw, slicing them thinly for the best texture is best.

After all, leeks are fibrous, and eating large chunks of them can be unpleasant.

They are chockful of vitamins, but they taste so mild. Leeks do possess a subtle onion flavor, though. But you are more likely not to notice that your food is missing Vidalia onions.

Once cooked, leeks become more tender. This way, they are perfect Vidalia onion swaps in pizza, burgers, salads, and sandwiches.

11. Chives

Another non-onion substitute for Vidalia onions is chives. This herb has a mild onion flavor, so your dish won’t miss that flavor note.

But then again, chives do not look like onions. They will add a green element to your dish, making it looks entirely different.

This change is not always unwelcome, though. Some dishes look better with a touch of green.

Use chives in omelets, dips, and soups that call for Vidalia onions. Do note that chives have a very delicate flavor, and this gets destroyed by heat.

For this reason, they are the best substitutes for Vidalia onions in uncooked dishes. You can add them to cooked dishes, but ensure you put them in last.

What Makes Vidalia Onions Special?

Vidalia onions are special because they have high sugar content. And because of this characteristic, Vidalia onions are not spicy. Instead, they are sweet. Because they grow on low-sulfur soil, they do not have the bite and acidity that other onions have.

Is Vidalia Onion Same As Sweet Onion?

Sometimes. Vidalia onion is a type of sweet onion. But other sweet onions like Maui, Walla Walla, and Texas sweet onions exist. For this reason, all Vidalia onions are sweet onions, but not all sweet onions are Vidalia onions.

Where to buy Vidalia Onions?

You can find Vidalia onions in the produce section of supermarkets. You can also find them in farmer’s markets. Vidalia onions are available in all 50 states in the US and most of Canada.


Have you taken your pick among the Vidalia onion substitute options above? For the best swapping experience, go for sweet onions like Maui, Walla Walla, or Texas sweet onions.

Other onions that will do well in specific dishes include yellow, red, white, and potato onions. Some unconventional choices include chives, shallots, scallions, and leeks.

Other options not included in the list above are garlic and pearl onions. Choosing which works for your dish and which option you can access easily is best.

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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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