The 6 Best Substitutes for Cipollini Onions

Cooking at home offers the advantage of creating personalized meals according to one’s preferences. Nevertheless, the process can present challenges, and a common problem that people face is not having a specific ingredient available.

Substitutes for Cipollini Onions

Many chefs encounter this issue, and one ingredient that often requires a substitute is the cipollini onion. In this article, we will provide you with alternative options that can be used as a replacement for cipollini onion.

What is Cipollini?

Cipollini onions, also known as Borettana onions, are a type of Italian onion. The name “cipollini” translates to “small onion” in English. These onions can be found in red, yellow, and white varieties and have a flat, spherical shape with a paper-thin skin. Although they are smaller than other onion types, some can grow quite large.

What makes cipollini onions popular is their sweet, mild taste. Compared to standard white onions, cipollini onions have a much sweeter flavor, which adds a caramel-like sweetness to recipes. These onions are relatively mild in flavor compared to other onion varieties and are often roasted and consumed whole.

As they simmer, cipollini onions become even sweeter and milder, making them a favorite for many people, even those who don’t typically enjoy the taste of onions. Their mouthwatering, melt-in-your-mouth quality is what makes cipollini onions a favorite ingredient for many recipes.

The 6 Best Substitutes for Cipollini Onions

Pearl onions

Pearl onions are a type of small, round onion with a mild, sweet flavor and white, papery skin. They add a slight crunch to salads and are perfect for dishes that require quick cooking. Pearl onions offer a unique twist to traditional recipes, and if cipollini onions are not available, they can be an excellent substitute. Before cooking, the onions should be peeled and blanched until tender.

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Boiler onions

Boiler onions, also known as white hull-less onions, are a lesser-known member of the Allium family. They resemble yellow onions but are smaller with creamy white skin. These onions have a firm yet soft texture and are incredibly sweet when cooked. They were traditionally boiled in liquids like milk to bring out their flavor and softness, hence the name.

When substituting cipollini onions, cut the boiler onions into rings or halves and add them to your dish. Boiling can enhance their sweetness, but any cooking method will bring out their delicious flavor.

Yellow Onions

Yellow onions are a variety of onion that is commonly available and can be a good substitute for cipollini onions. They have a milder flavor than the more pungent white onions, making them suitable for various dishes.

However, yellow onions are larger than cipollini onions, so they will need to be chopped into smaller pieces. It is also important to cook the chopped yellow onions well to enhance their flavor.

Red Onions

Red onions have a milder taste compared to other onion varieties and are often consumed raw due to their relatively low bitterness. They have a bright reddish-purple appearance and can be used as a replacement for cipollini onions.

Although red onions have a different appearance, their flavor is similar to cipollini onions, making them a good alternative.


Shallots are a variety of onion that stand out for their unique and delightful taste. These small, multi-layered bulbs come in different colors, from light brown to pale purple, and offer a subtle yet sweet flavor with a slightly firmer texture than other onions.

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Thanks to their potent flavor, shallots are a great addition to soups, stews, and fried dishes like tempura. If you cannot find cipollini onions for your recipe, finely chopped shallots can be an excellent substitute, as they bring the same natural sweetness with a milder bite.

No matter how you decide to use them, shallots are sure to enhance your culinary creations.

Vidalia Onions

Vidalia onions are known for their mild and sweet taste, which sets them apart from other onion varieties. The reason behind their unique flavor is their low sulfur content. Vidalia onions have a soft texture that makes them easy to slice or dice into cubes or rings.

This combination of sweetness and softness makes them a popular choice as a substitute for cipollini onions, as they provide the same succulent taste without the sharp and acidic bite of regular onions.

If you’re looking for a versatile and delicious ingredient to use in your cooking, Vidalia onions are an excellent choice.


To sum up, when you don’t have cipollini onions at hand, there are several substitutes you can use to achieve a similar delicious flavor. Options include pearl onions, boiler onions, yellow onions, shallots, or Vidalia onions, which all provide a touch of sweetness and softness that can elevate any recipe.

Don’t be afraid to try different onion varieties to find the perfect match for your dish. With these options, you can easily substitute cipollini onions and create a tasty and impressive meal.

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