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The 8 Best Substitutes for Red Onion in Salads 

You can use several substitutes for red onion in salads and still give your dish tons of flavor. Some items that can be used instead are onion powder/juice, yellow or white onions, celery, fennel, and garlic. 

Continue reading below to find out more about those items and what else can be used to replace red onions. 

A chicken salad with red onions

1. Onion Powder or Onion Juice

Onion juice is extracted from fresh onions and can be used to replace onion powder or fresh onions. It enhances the flavor of many things, such as soups and meats. 

Onion powder is made by grinding onions and then dehydrating them. It is usually an additive to other spices, such as seasoned salt. 

2. Yellow or White Onions

White onions have a sweet, mild flavor and a thinner skin that is paper-like. Because of this, they are great served raw in dishes. 

Yellow onions are the general go-to for onion lovers. They have a milder flavor and are easily accessible. The longer you cook them or saute them, the sweeter they become. 

3. Green Onions or Scallions

Scallions are a milder flavored vegetable making them a great replacement for anyone who doesn’t care much for onion flavor. They are also known as spring onions or green onions and have a green stalk with a white bulb. You can eat both parts, whether cooked or raw. Scallions grow in clumps and are harvested much the same way as carrots

4. Chives

Chive plants resemble tall grass and have a mild flavor. They do not have an edible bulb but are still similar to scallions or garlic in flavor. 

Chives are normally used as a garnish on dishes, especially eggs and potatoes, and have even been blended into butter. 

Sometimes you want to have something that can give the same sense of the flavor of red onions without actually using onions. Some additional ideas are below.

Chopped green onions or chives

5. Celery

Celery has a long stalk that can be sliced into pieces or eaten whole as a stalk. You can use celery in dishes as a vegetable component. The seed can be ground to a powder and used as a spice. It only contains ten calories a stalk, so it’s healthy. Plus, its crunchiness adds texture to foods. 

6. Shallots

Shallots can be used as a substitute for onions and pickling vegetables. The most common version is the Jersey shallot. They tend to initially taste spicy and end with a sweet flavor. Other shallots that you can use for red onion substitutes include echalions and French gray shallots.

7. Fennel

Fennel is a flowering plant that originates from the Mediterranean Sea. It can be used to help flavor foods or be served as a side. If sliced thinly, it can be eaten raw or cooked and has a flavor similar to licorice. If you use fennel as an onion substitute, do so sparingly. Otherwise, it may overpower your dish.

8. Garlic

Garlic is a plant that is low in calories but high in many vitamins, including vitamins C, B6, and manganese. It is used not only as a spice to flavor foods but also as a medicine to treat bronchitis, high blood pressure, and tuberculosis. 

In ancient Greece, it was given to athletes as a performance enhancer; in ancient India, it was deemed an aphrodisiac. 

Related What Are the Best Onions for Burgers? It Depends.

Can I Use White Onion Instead of Red in a Salad?

You can use white onions instead of red onions in a salad, though white onions tend to be less aromatic than red onions. Red onions tend to have a stronger flavor adding a bit of a punch to a salad, White onions are milder and can add a hint of earthy sweetness to a salad.

What Kind of Onion Is Best for Salads?

The red onion is considered the best onion for a salad. Their flavor is more pungent when raw and dissipates when cooked. They also add a delicious color to your salad. However, in a pinch, you can add any onion you have on hand to your salad. 

Can You Eat White Onions Raw?

You can eat white onions raw. It’s possible that they’ll make you tear up when slicing them, but they can really enhance the taste of salads or burgers. White onions can also be baked whole in the oven and eaten as a side to a meal. 

What’s the Difference Between Red and White Onions?

The difference between red and white onions is that red onions tend to have a bit more kick, sometimes described as spicy. White onions tend to be milder and sweeter, even more so when cooked. Most people prefer white onions when eating raw, unless they’re in something like a salad or a sub.

Which Is Stronger, Red or White Onion?

Red onions have a stronger flavor when raw and can scent a room rather quickly, causing those not cutting the onions themselves to tear up. White onions have a gentler odor and can still scent a room but without the tears for those not cutting them. 

When cooked, both onions are about the same strength in flavor as cooking brings out the sweetness in both.

What Is the Most Flavorful Onion?

Yellow onions are considered to be the most flavorful, as well as the most versatile. This makes them the most popular onion to easily add flavor to soups, stews, meat, and stir-fry dishes. They are also great to eat raw on sandwiches and burgers.

Related The 9 Best Substitutes for Nicoise Olives.

Which Onion Is Considered the Healthiest?

Red onions are considered the best for health benefits as they contain a higher amount of antioxidants than other onions. They also contain cancer-preventative properties. 

Per Women’s Health Magazine, a 2017 study published in Food Research International states that red onions have been found to be the strongest at fighting cancer cells in humans. 

How Long Do Onions Last in the Fridge?

If you place a cut onion in an air-tight container, it can last in your fridge for up to a week. If you store them in a plastic container, they can absorb the odor of the onions, so glass containers are best. Uncut onions will last even longer in the refrigerator.  

Do Onions Last Longer in the Fridge or on the Counter?

Onions will last longer on the counter than the fridge. However, the best place to keep onions is in a designated onion bin or basket in a pantry. Onions are best if kept in a cool, dry, dark place. 

Since the refrigerator is cold instead of cool and holds humidity inside, it is best not to keep your onions there.

Which Onion Has the Least Amount of Sugar?

Yellow onions have the least amount of sugar compared to other onions. One cup of chopped yellow onions has seven grams of carbs (only one gram comes from sugar) and one gram of fiber, making them a good choice for anyone with diabetes or blood sugar issues. 

How Do You Know If an Onion Has Gone Bad?

You can tell if an onion has gone bad if it develops dark spots that lead to mold growth. They can also begin sprouting, which usually makes the onion look drier and a bit shriveled. Feel your onion for any mushy spots, letting you know where the dark spots are about to begin developing. 


Red onion is a great ingredient for salads as it adds a very aromatic, flavorful kick to your pallet. However, not everyone likes red onion or the strength of the flavor it gives. 

You can replace red onion with many other versions of onion that aren’t as strong, as well as things like garlic, celery, and fennel. Either item you choose will leave your salad tasting wonderful and your taste buds fully satisfied.

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