9 Types Of Onions And How To Use


Can you imagine a world without onions? Members of a family that also includes garlic and chives, these onions are indispensable, adding a baseline of sweet and earthy flavor to many cooked dishes and adding a spicy accent when served raw. But what are the 9 different types of onion in the Netherlands?

There are plenty of varieties available in the supermarket, well-known and lesser-known varieties. Because of this, it can be difficult to know which type of onion to choose for your dish.

The leek also belongs to the onion varieties, but is prepared differently in the kitchen and used for other dishes. That is why the leek is not included in this list.  

Caramelizing and sautéing onions is a profession in its own right. You can read all about it in our blog ‘ How to Caramelize Onions? ‘ and you know all about frying onions. You can read all about storing onions in our blog ‘ How to store onions? ‘.

These 9 species that are common in the Netherlands are discussed individually below.

1. The Yellow Onion

Yellow onions are undoubtedly a favorite in the Netherlands. Their deep but not too strong flavor makes them endlessly versatile in cooking.   

yellow onion

What does the yellow onion look like? Ranging in size from golf ball to softball, with pale yellow flesh and golden, papery skin. 

What does the yellow onion taste like? When they have not been in storage for a long time, they taste sweeter. The taste gets spicier the longer they are in storage, this is at the end of winter. 

What to pay attention to when buying and how to store?   Yellow onions are available all year round. Look for firm, undamaged onions that are heavy for their size. If you plan to keep the onions for a long time, store them at low room temperature in a dark place. Make sure that the onions can ventilate well, so do not store them in a plastic bag. Sliced ​​or peeled onions can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. They can only be kept for a few days.  

How to use yellow onions? Actually, the question should be, how not to use them? Yellow onions can be cooked for a long time and can therefore be used in soups or stews. They can also be caramelized well in a frying pan. Furthermore, the yellow onion can be used almost everywhere, from cooking to baking and in salads.  

2. The Red Onion

While they can be pungent and spicy, red onions are delicious eaten raw, making a crunchy and colorful addition to a meal. Red onions are always available, as is the yellow onion. 

Red onion

What does the red onion look like? The size varies from a golf ball to softball, the skin is red and has a paper-like structure.  

How does the red onion taste? Strong and spicy when eaten raw; still strong, but sweeter, when cooked. 

What to pay attention to when buying and how to store? Red onions are always available, when they have not been in storage for too long, they taste sweeter. When they are in storage for a longer period of time, the sharpness increases during the winter months. Look for firm, undamaged onions that are heavy for their size. The red onions should be stored in a dark, cool, dry place; see advice for yellow onions. 

How to use red onions? Put red onions on your pizza and try them in a chopped cherry tomato and bell pepper salad. Red onions are also perfect for grilling and then adding to your dish like a soup.

3. The White Onion

Many people do not know the difference between white and yellow onions. The white onions have a slightly sweeter and fresher taste, but do not store as well as yellow onions. 

white onion

What do white onions look like?  Ranging in size from baseball to softball, with white flesh and bright white, papery skin. 

How does the white onion taste?  Milder in flavor than yellow onions, white onions can be eaten raw. 

What to pay attention to when buying and how to store?  White onions taste the same all year round. Storage does not affect the taste. Look for firm, undamaged onions that are heavy for their size. The onions should be stored in a dark, cool, dry place. 

How to use white onions?  Because of their crisp texture and mild flavor, white onions are great in salads sliced ​​raw, thinly sliced ​​on your favorite sandwich or on a pizza.  

4. The Sweet Onion

The sweet onion is also included in the list of 8 different types of onion. The sweet onions don’t necessarily contain more sugar than other onions (although some do). There are different types of sweet onions available. One advantage of the sweet onion is that they won’t make you cry.  

sweet onion

What does the sweet onion look like? There are different types of sweet onions. From spinning top to a regular looking onion. Sweet onions have thinner skins than other onions, are juicier than other onions, and they can’t be stored that long.

How does the sweet onion taste?  The reason sweet onions taste so sweet is that they contain less sulfur and thus are less pungent than other onions, allowing you to taste all the sugar naturally occurring in the onion. 

What to pay attention to when buying and how to store?  Firm, medium-sized onions without bruising taste best. To store, wrap each onion in a paper towel and store in the refrigerator; they keep well for weeks. Never store them in plastic, as their succulent nature makes them prone to rot and mold. 

How to use sweet onions?  Because sweet onions are not as sharp as other onions, they cannot be used as a substitute for, for example, the yellow and red onions. If you do this, the dish will not get the right taste. This can be good in some dishes, but it can also lead to some flat, bland results. 

Just cooking it like other onions is fine. The mild flavor of sweet onions makes them perfect for using raw in salads and sauces or chopped as a garnish. 

Sweet onions are delicious when sliced ​​into onion rings or simply roasted. 

5. The Shallots

Where would we be without shallots? They are often used in French cuisine, where they are used in classic sauces. They are also indispensable in Asian dishes; often fried crispy or ground into curry pastes. 


What do shallots look like? Shallots are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Western shallots, the kind you’re most likely to find in a grocery store, are small, slender, and lighter in color than red onions, with a pink-orange papery skin. In an Asian market you can find Asian shallots, which are very small and deep dark purple. 

How do Shallots taste? Milder in taste than red onions, but stronger than the yellow onion, with a hint of garlic. 

What to pay attention to when buying and how to store? Look for firm, compact shallots with shiny, unblemished skin. Stored dry and kept in a cool, dark area of ​​the kitchen, such as a cupboard, shallots can be stored for several weeks to a month. 

How to use shallots? Thinly sliced ​​and fried added to Thai curry noodles. Finely chopped in basic vinaigrettes for extra ‘crunch’ and flavour. You need shallots to make a delicious casserole. And shallots can be roasted very well.   

6. The Spring Onion

One of the most versatile onions out there, scallions are long and thin, usually no thicker than a finger. Sweet and mild with hardly any bite, they can be eaten raw or cooked.

spring onion

What does the spring onion look like? Bright white underneath with hollow, dark green stems. The spring onions are usually sold in bunches. 

What does spring onion taste like? They have a mild onion taste, they are crunchy and juicy at the same time. The dark green stems/leaves have more firmness. The spring onion is best used to add accents to a dish, as you would with fresh chives or parsley. 

What to pay attention to when buying and how to store? The white part of the onions should be firm and clear, without moisture or sliminess, and the stems should be firm. Avoid clumps that are wilted or have colored stems.  

Never store fresh scallions in a plastic bag: their high moisture content will quickly lead to rot. Reusable mesh bags are a good option: they allow air circulation but prevent the spring onions from drying out. If your scallions still have roots, trim them slightly, place them in a glass jar filled with an inch or so of water, and store them in the refrigerator for up to a week. 

How to use spring onion? Along with garlic, and to a lesser extent ginger, spring onions are indispensable for stir-fries. Fresh chopped scallions add flavor and texture to a dish. Do not bake or cook for too long, because then they will lose the texture. They are delicious raw in a salad.  

7. The Bosui

The next in the row of 9 different types of onion is the spring onion. Although the spring onions resemble spring onions in appearance and taste, they are really just very young onions – yellow, red and white – that are more likely to be pulled from the ground when they are still thin and mild in taste. 

spring onions

What do the spring onions look like? Like scallions – white undersides and dark green stems – but with a bulb at the bottom, rather than completely straight. 

How does the spring onion taste? Spring onions have a mild taste, they have just a little more spice when eaten raw. When cooked, they are soft and sweet. 

What to pay attention to when buying and how to store? The white part of the onions should be firm and clear, without moisture or sliminess, and the stems should be firm. Avoid clumps that are wilted or have colored stems.  

To store, roll the spring onions in a slightly damp kitchen towel, secure them with a rubber band and store them in the crisper drawer for up to a week and a half.   

How to use spring onions? Grilled spring onions are beautiful, sweet, soft but fresh. The spring onion can be processed just like the spring onion (see above). They are also tasty when prepared on the barbecue. Lightly oil the white parts of the onions, roast them on the charcoal until soft and serve with a tasty sauce. Spring onions are also delicious on a hot dog, for example.  

8. The Silver Onions 

The last of the 9 different types of onion is the traditional Dutch silver onions! The onions have been grown and exported in the Netherlands for more than 100 years. Silver onions are pickled in a jar with vinegar and/or sugar. 

silver onions

What do the silver onions look like? Silver onions are no larger than 1-15 centimeters and they owe their name to the color of the skin. This has a silver color due to the added vinegar. 

What do silver onions taste like? They taste wonderfully fresh and have a sweet/sour taste. This is because the silver onions are in the pot with added vinegar and/or sugar.  

How to store silver onions? The jar can be kept unopened until the date indicated on the jar. Can be stored in the fridge for up to a week open.  

How to use silver onions? Silver onions are usually used as a garnish for a salad or other dish. They are also delicious as a separate snack.  

9. Amsterdam Outings

The Amsterdam onion should also not be missing from this list of onions. These onions really come from Amsterdam. They don’t grow like Amsterdam onions! They are inlaid and then you get Amsterdam outings.

Amsterdam outings

What do Amsterdam outings look like? They are small onions and are yellow in color. They get this yellow color because they are inlaid with saffron. Since saffron is very expensive, use today is also known as the coloring agent of turmeric. After harvesting, the onions are pickled in the pickle together with spices.

What do Amsterdam onions taste like? The onions have a real onion flavor and are spicy. The spiciness is determined by the producer. This depends on the herbs used.

How to store Amsterdam outings? A closed jar has a shelf life until the date indicated on the jar. Once opened, it has a limited shelf life, usually a week.  

How to use Amsterdam outings? Amsterdam onions are still used as a snack in Amsterdam and the surrounding area. However, they are also often used as a garnish for a salad. Especially because of their taste, they are really an enrichment in salads. usually used as a garnish for a salad or other dish.

Harvest onions

Now you know everything about the 8 different types of onion, but now a bit about the harvest and the associated taste.

Because they keep for so long once harvested – no doubt a major reason why onions are such an integral part of so many cuisines around the world – they are available (and tasty) all year round.  

But onions are still seasonal: Spring and summer onions, available March through August, tend to be sweeter and milder, excellent for use in raw applications.  

Fall and winter onions come from the same plant as spring/summer varieties, but stay in the ground for a few weeks longer: below the surface, the onions grow larger, lose moisture and develop a thicker skin. Ideal for storage. They are also sharper in taste and are usually best when cooked.  

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of Foodstrend.com, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on Foodstrend.com's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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