What is Spanish Onion

Published Categorized as Guide, Ingredients

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If you’re making a recipe that calls for a Spanish onion, you may be wondering, “what are Spanish onions?”  Or, perhaps you noticed some onions labeled “Spanish onions” in the grocery store and aren’t sure what makes them different from the other types of onions you’re more familiar with. 

Regardless of what sent you to this page, we’re here to help you learn more about this type of onion.  We’ll answer the questions “what is Spanish onions,” “What is Spanish for onions,” and more to help you learn everything you need.  Keep reading!

Table of Contents

What is Spanish Onion?

So, what is a Spanish Onion?  Spanish onion is a type of yellow onion, part of the onion family. The Spanish onion has a mild flavor and it tastes much like sweet onion!

Spanish onions like many other vegetables are man made. Spanish onions are indeed a type of yellow onion, part of the onion family.  However, the growing process of this type of onion is different from that of typical yellow onions.  Spanish onions are grown in low sulfur soil.  These growing conditions yield onions that have a less intense flavor.  Additionally, the less intense flavor makes it possible for more of the onion’s sweet starch to be noticeable when it is cooked.

Spanish onions come from the Mediterranean.  They will grow best in areas with a lot of heat and high humidity levels.

Spanish onions are typically a bit larger than most yellow onions or the typical sweet onions.  Compared to some other types of onions that can last for multiple weeks or longer, Spanish ones also tend to have a shorter shelf life.  In ideal conditions (cool and ventilated space), a Spanish onion may last for up to three weeks, but often they will go bad more quickly than this.

How Do You Say Onion in Spanish?

Onions in Spanish are called “cebollas.”  This isn’t necessarily important for understanding what a Spanish onion is, since cebollas refers to all types of onions.  However, it is an interesting fact and a piece of information that you may find useful

what is a spanish onion

What Do Spanish Onions Look Like?

As we shared above, Spanish onions are often mistaken for yellow onions.  Their very similar appearance can be attributed to the fact that a Spanish variety of the onion is a type of yellow onion.  

A Spanish onion will have a thin covering of yellow skin.  Many Spanish onions will also appear larger than standard yellow onions, with some being about the size of a softball.

What Do Spanish Onions Taste Like?

The near identical appearance of Spanish onions and yellow onions may lead you to believe that the Spanish ones taste just like yellow onions.  However, if you think this, you’d be incorrect.  One of the biggest Spanish onions vs yellow onions differences is their taste.  

Spanish onions are much sweeter than yellow onions.  This is because Spanish ones are grown in low sulfur soil.  The low sulfur soil gives the onion a less intense flavor and allows the sweeter flavors to be more prevalent.

In fact, some people can even snack on raw Spanish onions, whereas few enjoy the harsher taste of raw yellow onion. And they will taste a lot more like sweet onions.

How to Store Spanish Onions

Compared to other onion varieties, Spanish onions have a higher water and sugar content, almost like sweet onions.  Unfortunately, this means that they don’t have as long of a shelf life as other onions do.  

To help your Spanish types of onions stay fresh as long as possible, proper storage is essential.  First, you should put them in a dark and dry place where there is plenty of ventilation and airflow.  Even if you brought your onions home from the store in a plastic bag, you won’t want to leave them in the plastic for storage; it won’t facilitate proper airflow.  This will cause moisture to get trapped in the bag, which will result in the onion rotting more quickly.

You can store the onions in an open paper bag instead.  This will ensure that enough air can flow to keep them from rotting.  Alternatively, some people like using clean pantyhose to store their onions.

If you cut this type of onion, but don’t need to use all of it, the leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator.  Place the onions in a sealed container to keep them fresh.  The refrigerated pieces of the onion may last up to 10 days, but you’ll want to check for freshness (by smelling) before using the leftovers.

spanish onion

Substitutes for Spanish Onions

You may choose to use this type of onions in another recipe that calls for red, white, or yellow onions.  This may be a good choice if you think the recipe could benefit from being a little sweeter.  Spanish onions can also be a good substitute for Vidalia onions.  Vidalia onions are also a sweeter onions type, so using a Spanish one in their place won’t change much about the way a recipe tastes.

If you can’t find a Spanish onion for a recipe that calls for one, you can choose a substitute for it easily.  Deciding between Spanish onions vs red onions or red onion vs yellow onion vs may seem confusing.  However, if you think about the flavor of Spanish onion, it should be easier to choose the proper substitute for your dish.

Remember, Spanish onions have a mild flavor and they taste like sweet onions.  This means that if you want to find a substitute for Spanish onions in your recipe, you’ll be best off choosing a sweet white onion.  This will help maintain the integrity of the recipe and won’t alter the taste too much.

Using Spanish Onions in Recipes

There are many delicious recipe options that you could use Spanish onion for.  Some to consider include French onion soup (or Spanish onion soup), roasted potatoes with Spanish onions, stuffed onions, grilled onion salads, and more.  

As we shared above, you can also substitute Spanish onions into nearly any dish that calls for a different variety of onion.  However, you must remember that because Spanish types of onions have a sweeter flavor, it will change the way the dish tastes.  In some cases, this may be what you’re after.  For example, don’t you think fajitas could taste amazing with sweeter onions?  However, you may not always want to choose a sweet onion for a recipe, so keep this in mind before deciding to use Spanish onions.

Spanish onions also taste good raw.  This means they can make an excellent topping for a side dish for burgers, sandwiches, or salads.  Some people even enjoy just eating raw Spanish onions as a snack.

Try this recipe featuring Spanish onion.

Where to Find Spanish Onions

Finding this type of onion isn’t always the most simple task.  They may or may not be carried in your local grocery store.  And, sometimes, even if your grocery store does have Spanish onions, they may simply be labeled as “yellow onions.”

If your grocery store doesn’t have Spanish onions, you may have better luck visiting a local farmer’s market or a smaller local grocery store.  Talking with the produce manager at your grocery store is also an idea to consider.  They can help you find the Spanish onion’s type if they have them, and if not, they may be able to put in a request for you.

Where to Find Spanish Onions

Spanish Onions: Sweet and Tasty

While they are one type of yellow onion, Spanish onions have their own unique taste.  They have a mild flavor and sweet taste — sweet enough to be enjoyed raw.  If you haven’t tried this type of onions yet, you’re in for a real treat.  Why not find a new recipe featuring Spanish onions and give it a try?  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


Is Spanish onion a yellow onion?

Technically a Spanish onion is a type of yellow onion, part of the onion family.  If you search for “Spanish onion image,” you’ll notice that this type of onion looks very similar to a yellow onion.  However, Spanish onions are grown in low-sulfur soil, which makes them significantly sweeter than yellow onions.  This means that the biggest Spanish onion vs yellow onion difference is their taste.  If you’re looking for this type of onion substitute, you’d be better off choosing a sweet white onion than a yellow onion.

Is a red onion a Spanish onion?

No, red onion is not a Spanish onion.  The Spanish ones are much sweeter than red onions, while red onions have a much stronger flavor and odor.