Are Red Onions Good To Saute?

July 14, 2022
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The Proper Way to Cook Red Onions

It may be hard to believe, but there are over 900 different varieties of onion in the world. Unfortunately, you only get access to a select few in the grocery store. Some of them you may have not heard of, like the Walla Walla onions.

Of the onions you can buy at the grocery store, the most common ones are yellow, white, and red.

Red onions are the prettiest of the three. The striking red, almost purple color draws your eyes naturally. Due to its milder flavor, you’ve likely had this particular type of onion as a salad topping.

However, one of the best ways to eat an onion slice is sauteed. The smell of sauteeing onions in butter with some garlic, pepper, and salt is one of the best smells from a kitchen. So, it begs the question, are red onions good to saute?

Don't worry. By the end of this article, you will be an onion expert. This article covers the varieties of onions, the background of red onions, and how to use red onions.

Different Varieties of Onions

Onions have been around for over 5,000 years and were one of the first crops to be cultivated. They are native to central Asia but now grow all over the world.

Onions come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. The three main onions you see in the store are yellow, white, and red. They all have sugar in them, but not all qualify as a sweet onion.

Photo of 3 Red Onions

Red Onions

Each onion has a different flavor profile and is better suited for different dishes. For example, yellow onions have a strong flavor and are often used in stews or as a base for other flavors. They also make great onion rings or in French onion soup.

White onions are milder, and you often see them labeled as sweet onions. They are often used in salads or as a topping on tacos. White onions are also commonly used for sauteeing.

Other common varieties of onions:

Pearl Onion - long and skinny and often used for pickling.

Spring Onion - robust flavor and are often used in Asian cuisine. They look like scallions but have a larger white bulb on the end.

Scallions (Green Onion) - look similar to a spring onion. Green onions have a very small white bulb at the bottom.

What Are Red Onions Best For?

Due to their bright color, crisp texture, and milder flavor, you most frequently eat red onions raw. While a raw onion may not be appetizing to many, they are often used as an addition to salads or as a pizza topping. Red onions are also good in salsa or guacamole.

Red onions are great for pickling. They will retain their color even after you soak them in vinegar. Pickled red onions are a great addition to tacos, ceviche, or burgers. Red onions can also be used in cooked dishes but will not have the same flavor as yellow onion or a white onion.

If you use red onion in a cooked dish, it is best to caramelize it. Caramelizing onions is a process of slow cooking them in butter or olive oil until they turn brown. A caramelized onion brings out the natural sugars in the onion and makes them sweeter.

Caramelizing Red Onions to Get That Sweet Flavor

Sauteed onions are often used in French onion soup or as a pizza topping. You can also use them in omelets and on burgers.

What Do Red Onions Taste Like?

Compared to their white and yellow cousins, red onions have a more distinct flavor but are milder. You could describe red onions as a combination of spice and sweet.

Cooked red onions have a different flavor than raw red onions. Cooking red onions removes the spicy edge, and you get a sweet taste instead.

Can You Make Raw Red Onions Milder?

If you are a fan of red onions but don't like the strong taste of raw red onions, there are several things you can do to reduce the intense flavor. You can first put them in a bowl of ice water after you have cut them.

Photo of Diced Raw Red Onions

Raw Red Onions Can Be Used in a Variety of Dishes Including Salads and Salsas

After the red onions have sat in the ice water for 15 minutes, strain and dry the onions. Soaking raw red onions in cold water removes some of the sharpness of raw red onions without affecting their color or crispness.

Can You Saute Red Onions?

You can absolutely saute red onions. Sauteed red onions are positively delicious. Just like yellow and white onions, you can sautee, stir fry, simmer, caramelize, and put red onions in an air fryer. These are a particularly versatile onion.

Photo of Red Onions Being Sauteed

Red Onions Being Sauteed in a Pan

Although they have a milder flavor than yellow and white onions, red onions are still tasty when cooked. Additionally, they add a bright color to any dish you add them to.

When you saute red onions, they will turn red-brown and have a much sweeter flavor than when eaten raw.

Which Is the Healthiest Onion?

In addition to being prettier than white and yellow onions, a lot of evidence suggests that red onions are the healthiest of the three onions.

Red onions contain more antioxidants than any other onion. These antioxidants are believed to have cancer-fighting properties.

Red onions also contain a higher concentration of Vitamin C than other onions. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps boost the immune system, aid in wound healing, and absorb iron.

What Is The Difference Between Red Onions and Shallots?

Red onions and shallots are often confused. They both come from the Allium family and have the same reddish-purple color.

However, red onions are much larger than shallots and have a milder flavor. Shallots are also more pungent than red onions and have a sweeter taste. They are more delicate but can be stored for the same amount of time as red onions.

Use shallots and red onions interchangeably when cooking. If you want a milder flavor, go with the red onion. If you don't mind a more robust taste, go with the shallot.

Should You Cook Red Onions For Burgers?

One of the best toppings for a juicy beef burger is slices of red onion. The sweetness of the onion pairs perfectly with the savory taste of a burger.

Raw red onions also have a high water content, which helps to keep the burger moist. Another benefit of using red onions on burgers is that they don't fall apart as easily as white or yellow onions. Your burger will look as good as it tastes.

However, cooked red onions are also great on burgers. To cook red onions for burgers, simply slice them thin and sautee them. Sauteed red onions will add a nice sweetness to your burger.


So, are red onions good to saute? Yes, they are and what’s more important, they are also delicious in a variety of meals. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to serve red onions.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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