The Best Simple Onion Substitutes

onion substitutes

When my Irishman decided he wanted to try the Low FODMAP diet to alleviate his IBS symptoms, my first thought was ‘How am I going to cook without onions?’ Thankfully I discovered lots of delicious onion substitutes.

So it ended up not being a big problem. Phew.

The Best Onion Substitutes

[in order of preference]

1. Skip it

The easiest and quickest option is to skip the onion. If you’re cooking a dish with a lot of other flavours, you probably won’t notice the lack of the background notes onion normally brings.

Although if your recipe has onion in the title, like French Onion Soup or an Onion Tart, just skipping it isn’t going to work. You need to find another recipe ;)

2. Chives

Adding a handful of chopped chives at the end of cooking works really well for adding complex flavour without onions. I add chives at the end of cooking my bolognese sauce and it works a treat. Also great in things like frittatas or quiches.

3. Scallions / Green Onions

Scallions, also called green onions are a great low FODMAP option if you use the green tops. They have a midler, fresher flavour than regular onions but work surprisingly well anywhere you’d normally soften an onion in oil at the beginning of a dish.

They can also be finely chopped and added just before serving. The flavour will be fresher and sharper which may or may not be a good thing.

4. Celery and / or Carrots

Onions celery and carrots are all aromatic vegetables which add background flavours to soups, stews, slow cooked dishes and stocks. Replacing a chopped onion with a similar quantity of chopped carrot and / or celery can be helpful.

How to Prepare Onions

To use raw
Peel and finely slice or dice. Be careful because a little raw onion goes a long way.

To reduce the intensity of raw onion soak in salted water for at least 10 minutes and up to a few hours. Drain well then use as per the recipe.

To cook
Peel and slice or dice. Generally best to cook over a low to medium heat with a little oil in a covered pot. Stirring every few minutes until they are soft.

To caramelise, remove the lid from the pan once your onions are soft and increase the heat to medium high. Keep cooking and stirring until deeply golden brown. Adding a splash of sugar or balsamic vinegar can speed up the process.

How to Store Onions

I keep mine wrapped in a paper bag in a dark part of my pantry. Keeps for months like this.

Delicious Onion Substitutes Flavour Pairings

  • Cheese & Onion (especially cheddar)
  • Butter & Onion
  • Cabbage & Onions
  • Bacon & Onions
  • Garlic & Onions
  • Liver & Onions

More on Onions

More Ingredient Substitutes

Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x


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