Most onions are known for their strong flavor and pungent odor, but not Spanish onions! Great for cooking, slicing, and even eating raw, as you would fruit, Spanish onions are the sweetest, most mild-tasting category of onions grown worldwide.
Keep reading to learn all about sweet Spanish onions, including what makes them different from standard yellow onions, and seven types of Spanish onions you should try.
Spanish Onions vs. Yellow Onions
All Spanish onions are yellow onions, but not all yellow onions are Spanish onions.
Spanish onions are a specific type of yellow onion with a sweeter, milder flavor. Spanish onions are so sweet that it’s possible to enjoy them raw; something you wouldn’t want to do with a regular yellow onion!
The sweetness of Spanish onions is a direct result of the soil these onions are grown in. Onions in general are a sulfur-loving crop, and sulfur is largely responsible for their rich flavor and pungent aroma. Onions absorb sulfur from the soil they’re grown in. However, sweet Spanish onions are grown in low-sulfur soil, which allows their starch to take center stage and produce their characteristic flavor.
Spanish Onions in the Kitchen
Thanks to their flavor, sweet Spanish onions are among the most popular onions used in dishes worldwide.
One of the most common ways to cook with Spanish onions is to saute them and add them to soups and sauces. These onions are also great for adding flavor to homemade salsa, breakfast eggs, and potato recipes. You can even stuff these onions with your filling of choice and bake them in the oven.
Raw Spanish onions are a much-loved topping for hot dogs, chili (and chili dogs), and sandwiches.
History of Spanish Onions
Contrary to the name, Spanish onions did not hail from Spain. In fact, the exact origin of these onions is unknown, although they’re believed to have originated from Central Asia and later spread throughout Europe, and North and South Americas. The term “Spanish onion” is mostly used to describe a specific flavoring rather than a point of origin.
7 Kinds of Sweet Spanish Onions To Use In Your Recipes
There are several kinds of delicious Spanish onions that you can enjoy raw in salads, salsas, and on sandwiches, saute and add to meat dishes, or cook and savor them on their own.
Here are seven Spanish onions you should try.
A Sweet Reputation: Vidalia Onions
Of all Spanish onions, Vidalia onions are among the sweetest. While most onions contain about 5% sugar, Vidalias boast a 12% sugar content!
Vidalia onions are named after the town of Vidalia, Georgia, where they’re grown. Fun fact: these onions are only grown in 20 counties across South Georgia, which is a trademark that’s protected by the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986. If these onions aren’t grown in this area, they can’t be officially recognized as Vidalias.
Vidalia onions are a pale yellow color with a sphere-like, flattened shape. These onions are mid- to large-sized, ranging from five to 12 ounces, and contain many layered rings.
‘Everything’s Bigger In Texas’: Texas 1015 Onions
Grown only in Rio Grande, Texas, Texas 1015 onions are named after their prime planting date: October 15. These onions are tender, sweet, and succulent, and are typically enjoyed fresh. It’s no surprise that Texas 1015 onions are among the state’s most popular varieties!
Texas 1015 onions range from light brown to tan in color with off-white flesh. They are large-sized and average 14 to 16 ounces; that’s nearly a pound per onion! One of the onion’s most distinguishing characteristics is its singular center flesh and pull-apart rings. This trait is the result of intentional breeding to allow these onions to be used quickly and conveniently for culinary purposes.
Larger Than Life: Walla Walla Onions
Walla Walla onions get their name from the Walla Walla Valley, an area in northeast Oregon where they’re grown. Only about 20 growers have the honor of cultivating this onion variety and they do so across 500 acres. Walla Walla onions are so beloved in this region that 2007 they were named the official Washington State Vegetable.
Walla Walla onions are very large, ranging from 2-3 lbs. on average. Their skin is a papery shape of yellows and light browns. Its meat is white and nearly translucent, and features many layers of thin rings.
Explosively Delicious: Maui Onions
Unlike other Spanish onion varieties, Maui onions aren’t grown in low-sulfur soil, but in volcanic soil.
These onions are grown in the upper slopes of Haleakala, a long-dormant volcano on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The red soil in this region contains little to no sulfur, which is why this onion is also among the sweetest varieties worldwide.
Maui onions are small- to mid-sized with a globe-like shape that may be elongated in appearance. Its juicy white flesh features many rings and is protected by a thin, paper-like skin that ranges from light yellow to brown.
Island Delight: Bermuda Onions
Bermuda onions are a smaller variety of Spanish onions. These onions can range from 1.5″ to 4″ in diameter, though the smaller ones are recognized as Crystal Wax, or cocktail onions. As the name suggests, these onions are a major crop on the island of Bermuda where they were first introduced in 1616. Subsequently, these onions became the first sweet onions to be grown in Texas.
Bermuda onions are flat with crisp, pale yellow flesh. Aside from using them in some alcoholic beverages, such as gin martinis and the Gibson Cocktail, these onions are great for pickling, and to use in soups and stews.
Larger Than Life: Yellow Sweet Spanish Utah Onions
There’s a lot to love about Yellow Sweet Spanish Utah Onions. These onions range from 1-2 lbs. each and measure 5″ to 6″ in diameter on average. Their sweet, mild flavor makes it a top choice for grilling, and it’s specifically known for being the perfect onion to pair with a Patty Melt. Unique to other types of Spanish onions, these onions can be stored in dry conditions for up to six months.
Yellow Sweet Spanish Utah Onions are so popular, they were designated the Utah State Vegetable in 2002.
Health Benefits of Spanish Onions
While sweet Spanish onions are an easy vegetable to add to soups, stews, and sandwiches for a touch of mild flavor, or to dice and use as a topping, there are many health benefits to this tasty vegetable.
Spanish are low in calories and high in nutritional value. They are especially high in vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant and supports a healthy immune system. They’re also high in B vitamins, namely vitamin B6 and folate, which support nerve function, metabolism, and the production of red blood cells. These onions are also a source of potassium, which plays a role in kidney and nerve function, and cellular regulation.
Wrapping Up On Spanish Onions
Spanish onions are the sweetest category of onions out there. Use any of the above-mentioned Spanish onions in your home-cooked meals and you’ll immediately notice the elevation in flavor.
Curious to know about other onions you can try? Check out our Onions page to learn more!