8 Best Substitutes For Onion That You Should Know

Some people dislike the smell and taste of onions. Others love them. However, there are times when we all need a substitute for onion when we don’t have any, can’t find any, or simply don’t want to use any. Regardless, you shouldn’t have to throw the recipe out the window. Many alternatives won’t affect the flavor, texture, or appearance. 

Surprisingly, many people are allergic to onions, so it is important to always be aware of this before using them in any dish. Some dietary restrictions mean no onions due to digestive issues. Don’t worry though as there are many ingredients that you can use to replace them. 

These are the best substitutes for onions that you don’t want to miss.

#1. Celery

Whether it is the actual celery root or celery powder, this is a great way to substitute onions in your recipe since it adds aromatic flavor and crunch. Usually, celery is used in stews, soups, and even as part of a cocktail decoration. 

If instead of the crunch you want the flavor, you should add celery salt or powder, as it has a nice touch of aroma to your meal. Keep in mind that celery is very fibrous and tough, so you may want to cook it further to break some of its fibers. 

#2. Scallions

This vegetable is still in the Allium family, so it will cause an allergic reaction and shouldn’t be used if a person is allergic to onions. But if this isn’t the case, then using scallions is a good substitute for onion. The flavor is less potent and they can be easier to digest. 

Traditionally, scallions have been used in Asian foods, such as ramen or pho, but they are becoming more popular because they are so easy to use. You can use the bulbs and the stalks without any problems. 

#3. Garlic

This is another potent flavor and completely different from onions, but it can add flavor to your meal. This vegetable also belongs to the Allium family, so be careful when using it if you suspect allergies. You can use the clove and mash it to get the pulp out, or you can even roast the cloves and the whole head if you want a crunch and flavor. 

Garlic is an essential part of cooking and has been used in every type of cuisine. It is particularly popular in Mediterranean dishes from Italian or Greek origin. 

#4. Fennel

This may be an awkward taste, as some people don’t enjoy the anise-like flavor. The whole bulb, leaves, and seeds can be used. If you prefer the flavor without the fuss, then you should use dry fennel seeds, which also add a crunch to your meal. 

Fennel is used in soups, but it is also used in the braising, broiling, sauteing, and grilling process for flavoring during the cooking process. 

#5. Cabbage

It may sound weird to add cabbage to this list, but this vegetable is a good way to add crunch without an overpowering flavor. Also, cabbage is very versatile. It can be a side dish or used as the main ingredient. 

Using thinly sliced cabbage is the perfect replacement if you need the texture but want other ingredients to bring the tastiness. Cabbage is common in European dishes and is essential for coleslaw in North America. 

#6. Ginger

Like garlic, this root adds a lot of flavor to your dish, so it can be a lot for some people. Make sure you add a little at first, as the flavor can be too aromatic and even a bit spicy. Ginger is a classic Indian and Asian cuisine ingredient, but it has now been used widely, especially because of its medicinal properties. 

#7. Carrots

For soups or stocks, like celery, carrots can be a perfect choice instead of onion. Also like celery, carrots are hard and can be fibrous, so make sure you cook them for some time if you want them to be less tough. Carrots are high in vitamin A, which is also an anti-oxidant, so they are a healthy option for you. 

You can find carrots everywhere, but like onions, they are common in soups, stocks, gravies, and more. 

#8. Bell Peppers

This vegetable is less strong but also sturdy and aromatic. Bell peppers are used in Latin American foods, Creole dishes, and Asian cuisine. You can saute, grill, or steam them without losing flavor or consistency, but be mindful of the different colors, as each one has its flavor to it. 

When In Doubt, Spice It Up!

Sometimes you just don’t have any of the previous foods readily available, and that’s okay too! You should know that most times onions are used because of their aroma and particular flavor, but you can achieve something similar if you use your spices. 

Some of the spices we recommend include black salt, cumin, dried fennel, dried parsley, or even black pepper. Try your spice before using it, and add a bit first before going overboard, as it’s better to be safe than sorry! 


Is leek like an onion?

Leeks look like a green onion, but they have a milder flavor. They are in the same family though, so a lot of the properties are the same. Think of them as related, but not the same.

What is another name for spring onion?

If you hear the same spring onion, you mean scallions, which are also from the Allium family. Spring onion may be the mildest of the Allium family vegetables. Scallions are versatile and easy to use, also they tend to be easier to digest as well.

Can I use onion powder to replace onion?

Onion powder can be a great replacement for onion especially when you don’t have the time to chop one. Usually, one medium-sized onion equates one tablespoon of onion powder.


Whatever the reason may be, you don’t have to stop making your favorite dishes just because onion isn’t an option. Now you have plenty of choices that can help you out, but remember that they all add different textures and flavor, so you should test it out first. Don’t make your meal boring, or tasteless as these choices will satisfy and bring new flavors that you’ll love.

See more: Can You Freeze Onions?

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