No More Tears: Find the Best Substitute For Onion In Cooking

Substitute For Onion

One of the vegetables that is most frequently used in cooking around the world is the onion. They offer depth to a wide range of meals, from stews to soups, stir-fries to salads, and they are adaptable and tasty. 

Common types of onions include yellow onion, white onion, sweet onion, green onion, and red onion. You can eat raw onions or enjoy them after cooking in a dish. But what if you don’t have any onions or can’t eat them for some reason?

I. Common substitute for onion

Onions are bulbous vegetables with a pungent taste and aroma. They are often used as a base ingredient in many cuisines, including Italian, French, Indian, and Mexican. Onions are used in a wide range of dishes, including soups, stews, casseroles, salads, and sandwiches. 

Here is a list of the best onion substitutes:

1. Shallots

As a member of the onion family, shallots taste somewhat like onions but are sweeter and gentler in flavor. They work well in salads, dressings, and sauces to add mild onion flavor. Moreover, they are frequently used in French cooking, like French Onion Soup.

2. Leeks

Yet another member of the onion family, leeks, has a mild, sweet flavor. Chopped leeks are often used in soups and stews and can be substituted for chopped onion in most recipes. These give a similar flavor as cooked onions give in a recipe.

3. Scallions

Scallions, also known as green onion or spring onions, are young onions that have not fully matured. These green onions have a mild, sweet flavor and can easily replace onions. These can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, stir-fries, and soups in place of chopped onion.

4. Garlic

Garlic, while not an exact alternative to onions, can give food a comparable mild onion flavor. It has a pungent, spicy taste and can be used in most recipes that call for onions. You may also try garlic infused oil to add flavor to your dish.

II. Herbs as substitutes for onion

There are also several herbs that can be used as onion substitute, including:

1. Celery

Celery has a mild, sweet flavor that can add depth to dishes. The green leaves of celery are often used in soups, stews, and casseroles in place of chopped onion to add flavor.

2. Chives

Chives have a mild, onion-like flavor and can be used as an onion substitute. Chopped chives are often used as a garnish or in salads.

3. Fennel

Fennel has a licorice-like flavor and is often used in Italian cuisine. Fennel bulb can be roasted, sautéed, or grilled.

III. Spices that can be used as substitutes for onion:

Spices can also be used as substitutes for onions, including:

1. Onion flakes

Onion flakes are dehydrated onions that can be used in place of fresh onions in most recipes. Being the closest substitution to an onion, dried onion flakes can help enhance the flavor of dishes while also providing a convenient and longer shelf-life alternative.

2. Onion powder

Onion powder is made from dried onions and can be used as a seasoning in a variety of dishes. To use it for longer, store it in an airtight container. While it lacks the texture and volume of fresh onions, onion powder brings a concentrated onion flavor to your recipes. If you have an onion allergy, you can try garlic powder.

3. Onion salt

Onion salt is a mixture of salt and onion powder and can be used as a seasoning in place of regular salt to impart an onion-like flavor to your dish. This seasoning is particularly useful when you want to infuse your recipes with an onion taste without the need to use chopped onions.

4. Asafetida

Asafetida is a spice commonly used in Indian cuisine. It has a strong, pungent flavor and can be used as a substitute for onions in dishes such as curries and dals.

5. Himalayan Black Salt

Himalayan black salt, also known as kala namak, has a sulfuric, eggy flavor and can be used in place of onions in many dishes, particularly in vegan and vegetarian recipes.

IV. How to use substitutes for onions?

It’s crucial to think about the cooking process and how the flavor profiles of onion substitutes differ from onions. 

For instance, shallots can be substituted for onions in most recipes, but since they have a milder and sweeter flavor, the seasoning may need to be changed. 

Similarly, substituting garlic for onions will result in a similar flavor profile, but it will be spicier and more pungent.

If you’re using herbs or spices in place of onions, think about how much you’ll need and how that will affect the flavor of the dish as a whole. You might want to use fennel sparingly or combine it with other herbs and spices because, for instance, using it as an onion substitute will impart a licorice-like flavor.

V. Cooking without onions

While onions are a popular ingredient in many recipes, they are not necessary for every dish. In fact, there are many delicious recipes that don’t require onions at all. 

For example, roasted vegetables, grilled meats, and simple salads can all be made without onions. 

Additionally, some cuisines, such as Japanese and Thai, use very little or no onions in their traditional dishes.

If you are allergic to onions, you can use the closest food with a similar flavor to match its taste profile. So, a dish that requires chopped onions can have onions replaced with chopped bell peppers, chopped carrots, and chopped celery. In addition, if you are a fan of spicy food, you can add some hot peppers like jalapeno peppers.


1. What herb tastes like onion?

Chives can be used as one of the best onion substitutes in many recipes because of their mild, onion-like flavor. Without using onions, other herbs like thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves can also give recipes depth and complexity.

2. What taste cancels out onion?

Use acidic items, like vinegar or lemon juice, to help neutralize the flavor of onions if you wish to get rid of their flavor.

You can also utilize potent spices like cumin or coriander to enhance a dish’s richness and depth without the overpowering flavor of onions.

3. What can I use instead of onion and garlic?

In recipes where both onion and garlic must be substituted, shallots or garlic scapes work well because they share both ingredients’ flavors.

To add complexity and depth to a recipe without using onion or garlic, you can also use spices like cumin or turmeric.

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