The 10 Best Substitutes for Pearl Onion

Pearl onions are a small, sweet onion that is commonly used in a variety of dishes, from soups to stews to roasted vegetables. However, if you can’t find pearl onions or they’re not in season, there are plenty of other onions and alliums you can use instead. In this article, we’ll go over the top 10 substitutes for pearl onions and how to use them in your cooking.

Substitutes for Pearl Onions

1. Shallots

Shallots are a member of the allium family and are closely related to onions and garlic. They have a milder, sweeter flavor than onions and can be used raw or cooked. To use shallots as a substitute for pearl onions, peel and finely chop the shallot, using about one shallot for every three pearl onions. Saute the shallots in oil or butter until translucent, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

Cooking tips: When using shallots, be careful not to burn them, as they can become bitter. You can also substitute shallots for onions or garlic in many recipes for a slightly different flavor.

2. White Onions

White onions are one of the most common varieties of onion and are often used in Mexican cuisine. They have a sharp, pungent flavor and can be used raw or cooked. To use white onions as a substitute for pearl onions, chop the onion into small pieces, using about half an onion for every three pearl onions. Saute the onion in oil or butter until translucent, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

Cooking tips: White onions can be quite strong, so you may want to use less than you would pearl onions or cook them for a shorter amount of time.

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3. Red Onions

Red onions are another common onion variety that have a sweet, slightly spicy flavor. They are often used raw in salads and sandwiches but can also be cooked. To use red onions as a substitute for pearl onions, chop the onion into small pieces, using about half an onion for every three pearl onions. Saute the onion in oil or butter until translucent, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

Cooking tips: Red onions can be quite pungent, so you may want to use less than you would pearl onions or cook them for a shorter amount of time.

4. Yellow Onions

Yellow onions are one of the most commonly used onion varieties and have a strong, slightly sweet flavor. They are often used in soups and stews but can also be used raw in sandwiches and salads. To use yellow onions as a substitute for pearl onions, chop the onion into small pieces, using about half an onion for every three pearl onions. Saute the onion in oil or butter until translucent, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

Cooking tips: Yellow onions can be quite strong, so you may want to use less than you would pearl onions or cook them for a shorter amount of time.

5. Green Onions

Green onions, also known as scallions, are a type of onion with a mild, sweet flavor that is often used in Asian cuisine. They are often used raw as a garnish but can also be cooked. To use green onions as a substitute for pearl onions, chop the white and light green parts of the onion into small pieces, using about two green onions for every three pearl onions. Saute the onion in oil or butter until translucent, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

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Cooking tips: Green onions cook quickly, so be sure to add them towards the end of your recipe to prevent overcooking.

6. Garlic

Garlic is a member of the allium family, just like onions and shallots, and has a strong, pungent flavor. It can be used raw or cooked and is often used to add flavor to dishes. To use garlic as a substitute for pearl onions, finely chop the garlic, using about one clove for every three pearl onions. Saute the garlic in oil or butter until fragrant, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

Cooking tips: Garlic can burn easily, so be sure to keep an eye on it while it’s cooking. You can also use garlic powder as a substitute for pearl onions, using about 1/2 teaspoon for every three pearl onions.

7. Leeks

Leeks are a member of the allium family and have a mild, sweet flavor. They are often used in soups and stews but can also be used in other dishes. To use leeks as a substitute for pearl onions, slice the white and light green parts of the leek into thin rounds, using about one leek for every three pearl onions. Saute the leeks in oil or butter until translucent, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

Cooking tips: Leeks can be quite sandy, so be sure to clean them thoroughly before using. You can also use the dark green parts of the leek to make stock.

8. Cipollini Onions

Cipollini onions are a small, flat onion with a sweet, mild flavor. They are often used in Italian cuisine and can be roasted or sauteed. To use cipollini onions as a substitute for pearl onions, peel and halve the onions, using about six cipollini onions for every three pearl onions. Roast or saute the onions until caramelized, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

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Cooking tips: Cipollini onions can be quite difficult to peel, so be sure to blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds before peeling to make the process easier.

9. Red Shallots

Red shallots are a type of shallot with a red skin and a milder, sweeter flavor than onions. They are often used in French cuisine and can be used raw or cooked. To use red shallots as a substitute for pearl onions, peel and finely chop the shallots, using about one red shallot for every three pearl onions. Saute the shallots in oil or butter until translucent, then add them to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

Cooking tips: Red shallots can be quite expensive and difficult to find, so you may want to use them sparingly or use another substitute instead.

10. Chives

Chives are a member of the allium family and have a mild, onion-like flavor. They are often used as a garnish but can also be used to add flavor to dishes. To use chives as a substitute for pearl onions, finely chop the chives, using about two tablespoons for every three pearl onions. Add the chives to your recipe as you would pearl onions.

Cooking tips: Chives should be added towards the end of your recipe to prevent overcooking. They can also be added to salads, dips, and other dishes as a garnish.

Conclusion

Pearl onions may be a staple in many recipes, but there are plenty of substitutes available for those who don’t have them on hand or who prefer a different flavor. From shallots to leeks to green onions, there are many options to choose from depending on the recipe you’re making and the flavors you’re looking to achieve. Experiment with different substitutes to find the perfect one for your dish, and enjoy the delicious flavors that these alliums have to offer!

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