Top Spanish Onion Substitutes: Ideal Alternatives for Your Cooking

Spanish Onions are a type of yellow onion and are also known as brown onions. However, they are milder than most yellow onions. In this article, you will find out the best Spanish onion substitute for any situation.

What Are Spanish Onions?

Spanish Onions are one type of yellow onion (brown onion). They are not the same as many other yellow onions because they differ in taste and usage.

The Spanish onion is sweet and mild, grown in low soil, they have a higher water content than other yellow onions. This gives them their characteristic crunch, making them ideal for salads.

You can use them for tortilla wraps, relishes, sofrito, soup, salads, pizzas, and some grilled dishes.

With a similar brown appearance to other yellow onions, they are also similar in size and shape. The aroma of the Spanish onion is close to identical to other yellow onions, but the taste isn’t as potent.

Substitutes For Spanish Onions

Check out the best substitutions for Spanish onions and what they’re good for below.

SubstituteTasteGood For
Yellow OnionStrong, SweetSalads, Slow-cooking, Sauteeing
Sweet OnionMild, SweetRoasting, Onion Rings, Caramelizing
White OnionMedium, SweetSalads, Pies, Quiches, Sauces

1. Yellow Onions

Also known as brown onions, the yellow onion includes many different types of onion, including the Spanish onion. While the two aren’t identical in terms of flavor or texture, they still make an excellent substitute for one another in most situations.

You can use yellow onions in soups, sauces, and stews as a substitute for Spanish onions. They have a lower water content than Spanish onions, making them ideal for cooking.

However, they’re not ideal for salads and other dishes where the onions should be used raw as they have a stronger, more potent flavor, and the water content difference takes away a bit of the crunch you’d like from a raw onion.

2. Sweet Onions

Sweet onions are similar to Spanish onions because they are often mild due to not having the same ‘oniony’ flavor that overpowers many dishes.

They are also grown in more shallow soil which gives them a better crunch due to their higher water content. So they’re similar in many respects.

Many famous sweet onions, such as the Vidalia onion, are revered in cooking circles, especially when used in garnishes, salads, and relishes.

You can use sweet onions as an ideal substitute for Spanish onions when you need to use an onion raw and don’t want it to overpower the entire dish.

3. White Onions

White Onions aren’t as easy to distinguish because they’re not always as visibly white as you see them on the web, but they’re certainly worth using as an alternative to Spanish onions if you can pick them out. They’re actually the most common substitute for Spanish onions because of their versatility!

While these onions pack a more robust flavor that tastes a lot more like a regular yellow onion, they have some of the sweetness of sweet onions while still being milder than a typical “brown” onion.

You can use them in any dish or recipe, so they’ll work brilliantly if you want to slow-cook, grill, fry, or dice them up for a salad.

As with the other onions above, they’re a similar size in most cases, so you can use them as a 1:1 substitute for Spanish onions in any situation.


Regardless of the recipe, you can always find a great Spanish onion substitute. Whether you choose another yellow onion or something sweet, you will find a suitable substitution with one of the above options.

More about Spanish onions: