Onions are among the most commonly used vegetables in soups and dishes. The reason is that they can add texture, flavor, and nice aroma to whatever soup or dish you are preparing. But what if you run out of onion or you just can’t use it in your soup for some reason?
You don’t have to worry as there are actually plenty of onion substitutes that you can add to your soup. Some kitchen staples and ingredients have the same flavors as onions, making them worthwhile substitutes.
Among the best onion substitutes are the following:
- Onion Flakes
- Onion Salt
- Sweet Potatoes Or Tomatoes
Continue reading to find out what you can use as a substitute for onions that are known for their sweet, aromatic, and savory nature.
Top 13 Substitutes For Onion
Made from dehydrated onions, onion flakes will surely have the same taste as fresh onions. Onion flakes even have highly concentrated flavors that can enhance the taste of your soup and other dishes.
Aside from soups, you can also use onion flakes in pizza recipes, sauces, salads, dressings, and dips. If you want to substitute onion with onion flakes, the rule of thumb is to use three tablespoons to replace a cup of onion.
Onion salt is a seasoning that results from mixing dried ground onion and salt. What’s good about onion salt is that it tends to complement well with other ingredients.
This means that it works in enhancing the flavor of your recipes without worrying about it compromising the overall texture. Note, though, that since it contains salt, it is saltier compared to fresh onions.
Still, you will be glad to know that it can bring out the strong and pungent flavor of onion as well as its scent. You can use onion salt as an onion substitute when preparing soups and stews.
It also works well in stir-fries, marinades, and vegetable recipes. If you run out of onions, you can just grab onion salt if you have some on hand. Use around two tablespoons of this seasoning for every one cup of onion.
Garlic is also a simple and inexpensive substitute for onion in soups. It has an earthy flavor and a nice and spicy warmth that can improve your soups and dishes.
Another great thing about garlic is that you can eat it cooked or raw. It is a good onion substitute not only in soups but also in marinades, stews, and salad dressings.
Substitute one cup of onion with around two and one-third cups of garlic to emulate its taste. Aside from being a good spice for the base of stews and soups, garlic is also good for your health.
It can improve the health of your skin and bones. It can also prevent heart diseases.
You can also use scallions as an alternative to onions. Also called spring or green onions, scallions have a milder taste compared to other types of onions.
Scallions also have green leaves and white bulbs that you can use and consume either cooked or raw. They have a sharp and a bit spicy flavor that is almost similar to onions.
This peppery and spicy flavor makes them great additions to soups, stir-fry, and cucumber salad. You can replace one medium-sized onion with three tablespoons of scallions (chopped).
Just make sure to avoid cooking scallions for too long as they are quick and easy to burn.
Chives are also great alternatives to onions, especially if what you are looking for is a substitute that has a milder taste. Chives taste like onion, though, this taste is still not as strong as the latter.
You can definitely add a hint of flavor to your soup recipes and other dishes without making them too overpowering by adding chives instead of onion.
As a general rule when using chives in place of onion, note that around three tablespoons of it would be a sufficient substitute for a tablespoon of onion (chopped).
You can also use fennel, whether cooked or raw, in dishes that require onion. Expect it to bring out a strong licorice taste when raw, making them incredible additions to salads that require the crunchy texture of onion.
Cooked fennel, on the other hand, has the same texture as cooked onions. It also has a milder taste. With that, it is definitely a great alternative in case you are allergic to onions.
One cup of fennel bulb (chopped) is enough to substitute one cup of onion (chopped).
Leeks are also fantastic replacements for onions mainly because both fall under the same genus. This is also the reason why leeks also feature the same oniony taste with a nice hint of sweetness.
The good thing about using leeks in your soups and dishes is that they can make their flavor profile more enticing. This onion substitute is also good enough in terms of adding a bit of complexity to your recipe.
When cooked, expect leeks to have a milder flavor. It is also a versatile substitute that you can use in a wide range of cooking methods and dishes, including soups, pizzas, pasta, and risottos.
Sweet Potatoes or Tomatoes
Preparing a large hearty meal, like soup and curry, often requires onions. However, if for some reason you can’t use this ingredient, you will realize that removing it from the dish can only thin it out.
To bulk up the dish again after removing onion, add chopped veggies, like sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
Another famous onion substitute is celery. It is a commonly used vegetable in a lot of dishes because of its earthy peppery taste and crispy texture.
You will surely find the long stalks of celery useful not only in soups but also in stews, sauces, casseroles, stocks, salads, and stir-fries. They work even better if you pair them with bell peppers and carrots.
The leaves of celery are also known for having a harder texture and stronger taste compared to the stalks. You are assured of their ability to improve the flavor of your soups and other dishes.
To use as an onion substitute, replace one cup of onion (chopped) with one cup of celery (chopped).
Carrots also serve as great alternatives to onions. Carrots may not taste the same as onions but they have a crunchy texture that kind of resembles that of the latter.
If you don’t have onions on hand, just look for carrots in your kitchen. They will serve as great alternatives to the onions required in your soups, sauté, and stir-fried recipes.
Carrot has a natural taste that you can consider a cross between bitter and sweet. This makes it necessary to add carrots and chopped celery together in your dishes so the result will mimic the taste of onions.
It is highly recommended to use two cups of carrots (chopped) to replace one cup of onion. What’s great about using carrots is that they also have plenty of nutrients and vitamins that can help improve your overall health.
You will also be amazed at how good shallots are when used as substitutes for onion. Their flavors may not be as strong as onions but they still have this sharp note.
Shallots also boast of their sweet and fragrant undertones and their garlicky flavors. All these qualities make them work similarly to onions.
If your soup recipes call for a cup of onion but you have nothing on hand, you can replace them with one cup of chopped shallots.
Another great yet cheap replacement for onions in your soup recipes is cabbage. The taste of cabbage may not be that close to onions but you can still expect it to work well in recipes that require the latter.
If you eat raw cabbage, you will notice that it has a crunchy texture and a slightly bitter taste.
When cooked, it has that amazing ability to absorb the flavors of every ingredient you added to your recipes, including other spices and herbs. Cabbage can, therefore, produce an incredible taste if you prepare it correctly.
This vegetable is also versatile that you can cook plenty of dishes with it.
A reminder when it comes to using cabbage as an onion substitute is that it has a milder taste compared to the latter. This means you will have to add more cabbages that are thinly chopped as a substitute for onion.
Onion Substitute Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What can onions do in soups?
Onions are great additions to any soup recipe because they do this important job of adding texture and flavor. You can use onions in sweet and savory dishes plus you can choose from its various colors, including red, yellow, and white.
Onions can also make your soup recipes healthier. The reason is that this vegetable offers plenty of health benefits, like boosting your immunity, improving the health of your heart, fighting free radicals, promoting better digestive health, and improving bone density. [Source]
This does not mean you can no longer replace onions in your recipes, though, as there are also healthy alternatives just in case you can’t use them.
Can I use onion salt in place of onion?
Yes, it is okay to use onion salt as a replacement for onion. It can provide your dish with a mild onion flavor.
The good thing about onion salt is that it is so versatile that you can use it in various recipes, including soups, breads, salad dressings, and dry rubs.
Can I cook soup recipes without onions?
Yes. Even if your soup recipe calls for the use of an onion, it is okay to forego this ingredient in case you run out of it in your kitchen or are not fond of using it in your dishes.
Note, though, that you may miss out on the complex flavors and nice texture that onions can provide to your dish.
In the absence of onions, you can use any of its best substitutes so you can still bring out the best flavors and add a nice texture to your recipes.
Why should you substitute onions?
There are a few reasons why substituting onions with another ingredient is a good idea. One reason is if you hate the ability of onions to make your eyes tear up or water.
Some people also dislike using onions because they believe this ingredient causes bad breath, though it is possible to neutralize it by eating specific fruits, such as apples, or drinking water after meals.
You may also want to avoid using onion and substitute it with another if you are allergic to it. If you have an onion allergy, you can replace this ingredient with celery or any other ingredient that is not part of the onion family.
How can I lessen the pungent taste of onion?
Instead of using substitutes, you may also choose to lessen onion’s strong and pungent taste if this is a problem for you. You can do that by pickling raw onion in vinegar first or in any other acidic substance for several minutes. Another method is washing onions with water.
If you can’t really take its pungent taste or are allergic to it, do not hesitate to use some of the most highly recommended onion substitutes.