7 Best Sweet Onion Substitutes for Every Recipe

Categorized as Cooking
sweet onion substitute

Are you wondering what you can substitute for sweet onions in a recipe? Or got disappointed upon finding out your grocery store has run out of sweet onions? Not to worry, there are many alternatives to sweet onions that work just as well! In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the best substitutes that are not only easy to find but also give your dish the exact aroma and taste of sweet onions.

So read on if you want to explore a variety of other options for adding rich flavor and texture to your recipes!

1. White Onions

The first substitute that comes to mind when we think of sweet onion is the plain ol’ white onion. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor and a crunchy texture that makes them a great addition to salads, salsas and other dishes. White onions are usually available year-round and can be found in most grocery stores.

When substituting white onions for sweet onions in recipes, keep in mind that they don’t have the same degree of sweetness as sweet onions do. To offset this difference and increase the sweetness of your dish, consider adding sugar or honey when cooking with white onions.

It’s also important to note that white onions are best used raw or lightly cooked as their flavor becomes more intense as they cook longer. When added to soup or stews, they should be cooked slowly over low heat so they don’t overpower the other flavors in the dish.

Similarly, when sautéing white onions it is best to use moderate heat and cook until just tender rather than browned and crispy like you might with sweeter onion varieties.

Overall, white onions can make a good substitution for sweet onions when cooked carefully with some additional ingredients (such as sugar or honey) to enhance their sweetness. While not exactly like sweet onion varieties, white onion’s milder yet recognizable flavor makes them an acceptable alternative when needed.

2. Maui Onions

Maui onions are one of the best substitutes for sweet onions because they have a similar taste and texture. The Maui onion is a type of sweet onion that is grown in Hawaii. It has a distinct sweetness, a mild aroma, and a light crunchiness that make it ideal for salads and sandwiches.

The Maui onion is small to medium in size, has a golden-yellow color, and is more globular in shape. It also lacks the sulfur compounds that give regular onions their sharp flavor. These qualities make it great for cooking because it will not overpower the other flavors in a dish.

When selecting Maui onions, look for ones with bright, even coloring without discoloration or soft spots. Also, pay attention to the scent; you want something that smells fresh and pungent, not musty or spoiled. Once you bring them home from the store, keep them dry in the refrigerator in an airtight container or plastic bag until ready to use. 

When using Maui onions in place of sweet onions in recipes like French onion soup or caramelized onion dip, remember that their intensity will be slightly different from what you are used to with sweet onions.

To adjust for this difference, you may need to reduce the amount of Maui onions used slightly or add more sugar if your recipe calls for it. But overall, the taste of a Maui onion can easily pass for sweet onions in recipes.

3. Bermuda Onions

Bermuda onions make an excellent alternative to sweet onions as they have their own unique flavor profile which is milder than other varieties such as red or white onions. They come in either white or yellow skins and have a mild flavor with low sulfur content. This makes them a good option for those who prefer a less intense flavor than what is found in sweet onions. 

Bermuda onions can be eaten raw but if you want to cook them it is best to roast them to bring out their sweetness. To do this, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and then place the sliced onions on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 20 minutes and then flip the onion slices over before returning them to the oven for another 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown and tender. 

If you are looking for a different way of preparing Bermuda onions then try stuffing them! Start by slicing off one end of an onion leaving just enough of an opening so that you can fill it up with your favorite ingredients like cheese, vegetables, and herbs. Once filled, place them onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake at 350°F (175°C) for 30-45 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. This makes for a delicious side dish or vegetarian main course! 

4. Potato Onions

With a mild sweetness and pungent smell, potato onions are ideal for replacing regular sweet onions in many recipes. They can be used in pickling, stews, soups, sauteing dishes, salads, and more.

To start, it is important to remember that potato onions have a milder flavor than sweet onions. For this reason, when substituting potato onions for sweet onion in a recipe or dish, it’s best to use a 1:1 ratio- meaning you should use the same amount of potato onion as you would sweet onion. This will ensure that your dish has the desired taste and flavor and won’t be overwhelmed by the taste of the potato onion.

Finally, when storing potato onions it is best to keep them in a cool dark place away from direct heat or sunlight. This will help preserve their sweetness and prevent them from spoiling quickly. It is also important to store these onions unwashed until ready to use as washing them prematurely can cause them to spoil faster due to moisture retention on their skin.

5. Red Onion

Red onions are a great substitute for sweet onions, as they provide a similar flavor profile but with a bit more bite. For example, in salads, salsas, or any other raw dish, red onions can be used to replace sweet onion with minimal effect on the overall flavor.

It’s important to note that red onions will typically lend a light red tinge to whatever is being cooked; however, the flavor should not be impacted significantly.

When looking to replace sweet onions in cooked dishes, such as soups, it’s best to use caution when using red onions as they have a much bolder and spicier flavor than sweet onions. They’re still usable if one is looking for that extra kick of spice, but it’s better to start off by using less than originally intended and then adjust accordingly.

Red onion can also be used as an ingredient in marinades and dressings which can add depth of flavour to otherwise simple dishes. Grilled or roasted red onions make an incredible side dish and are incredibly easy to prepare.

For example, slicing the onion into thin rounds before brushing it with olive oil and seasoning it with salt and pepper will result in delicious caramelized onions that pair great with meats and veggies alike. Of course, one could also get creative – adding garlic powder or chopped herbs can add even more complexity to the dish!

6. Garlic

Garlic can be used as an excellent substitute for sweet onions due to both its aromatic and flavorful properties. It adds a bold flavor profile to dishes that regular onions cannot provide, making it the perfect choice for those looking for something more robust and pungent in their recipes.

When substituting garlic for sweet onions, it’s important to be mindful of how much you use as garlic has a much stronger flavor than sweet onions. This might require cutting down on other spices or condiments in your recipe or using less of them altogether so that the overall dish is not too overpowering. Start with adding small amounts of garlic at a time and taste test until you reach the desired flavor profile.

To get the best possible taste out of your dish while using garlic instead of a sweet onion, you should mince or crush the garlic before adding it to your prep. This will help release more flavor. ou can also consider roasting your garlic rather than mincing or crushing it before adding it to your meal; roasting gives your dish a much more mellow and complex flavor profile which pairs very nicely with savory dishes like stews or sauces. 

Garlic is also beneficial for our health, containing compounds that have antioxidant properties and help reduce inflammation in the body. Its essential oils are known to improve digestion and boost immunity against various infections and diseases.

7. Vidalia Onions

Vidalia onions are a great sweet substitute for traditional onions in any recipe. Their mild flavor and lack of pungency make it perfect for dishes that call for a sweeter taste instead of a sharp bite. To get the most out of this onion’s flavor, consider roasting or caramelizing them. Roasting will bring out the natural sweetness of the onion and caramelizing will add an extra layer of complexity to its taste.

In addition to its unique flavor, the shape of a Vidalia onion also makes them much easier to prepare than other onions. Instead of having to painstakingly dice up an entire bulb, you can simply slice or quarter the oblong-shaped Vidalia onion and get on with your cooking quicker. This makes them especially useful when preparing dishes like soup or stews that require larger, sweeter chunks of onions than diced ones would provide.

The lack of acidity in Vidalia onions also makes them better for those who don’t love the strong flavor and odor associated with regular onions. Some may find the milder taste to be more palatable which might help encourage others who are still hesitant about incorporating more vegetables into their diet.

Finally, Vidalia onions can also be used as a great topping for burgers or hot dogs instead of regular raw white onion slices. The sweetness combined with some texture gives it an added boost that plain white onions cannot provide.

How to Choose the Best Substitute for Sweet Onion 

When choosing the best substitute for a sweet onion, you should consider the flavor, texture, and appearance of each option. You may want to opt for a sweeter choice such as Vidalia onions or even garlic if you’re looking for an intense flavor profile.

If it’s a milder taste that you’re after, then white onions are a great option. Additionally, if you’re looking for a crunchier texture, then try maui onions instead. Finally, always keep in mind the overall visual impact that each substitute will have on your dish; some may not look as visually appealing as others so choose wisely!


Sweet onions can be a great addition to any dish and add an extra layer of complexity to the flavor profile. However, if you don’t have one available or if you’re looking for something else that could potentially provide similar results then there are plenty of substitutes out there that might work just as well.

Garlic, Vidalia onions, white onions, and Maui onions are all viable options that could substitute a sweet onion in any recipe. Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your own personal preference so don’t be afraid to experiment with different substitutes and find what works best for you.

By Rosie Elliott

I’m Rosie. I’m a professional chef with experience in Western, Mediterranean, and Italian cuisine. I’ve been cooking for over 15 years, and I have two daughters that keep me busy!