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The 5 Best Onions for Philly Cheesesteaks

Philly Cheesesteaks are a beloved American classic, known for their mouthwatering combination of thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, and perfectly sautéed onions, all nestled within a soft, fluffy roll.

But when it comes to onions, how do you know which type will best complement your Philly Cheesesteak?

What are the best onions for Philly Cheesesteaks? The best onions for Philly Cheesesteaks are those that have a mild flavor, a natural sweetness, and that caramelize well when cooked. Some top contenders include yellow onions, white onions, red onions, sweet onions, and shallots.

Choosing the right onion can make all the difference in the taste and overall experience of enjoying a Philly Cheesesteak.

Let’s dive into the world of onions and discover the five best options that will elevate your cheesesteak to the next level.

How to Pick the Right Onion

Philly Cheesesteak with onions

When it comes to cooking, onions are a staple ingredient in many dishes, adding flavor, aroma, and depth to your culinary creations. But with so many varieties out there, how do you pick the right onion for your recipe?

Here are five things to consider when choosing the perfect onion for your dish:

  1. Flavor profile: Onions come in various flavors, ranging from mild and sweet to sharp and pungent. Consider the desired taste of your dish and choose an onion with a flavor profile that complements it. For example, use sweet onions for caramelized onions or a milder onion like shallots for a delicate sauce.
  2. Cooking method: Different onions have varying textures and sugar content, which can affect their performance in various cooking methods. For instance, red onions are great for grilling and roasting due to their firm texture, while yellow onions caramelize well and are ideal for sautéing and slow-cooking.
  3. Color and appearance: The color of the onion can impact the presentation of your dish. Red onions add a pop of color to salads and salsas, while white onions are often used in Mexican and Asian dishes for their bright and crisp appearance.
  4. Shelf life and storage: Some onions have a longer shelf life than others. Yellow onions, for example, can be stored for several months in a cool, dark place, while sweet onions have a shorter shelf life and should be used within a few weeks of purchase.
  5. Regional and seasonal availability: Certain onions are more readily available in specific regions or during particular seasons. Vidalia onions, for example, are sweet onions grown exclusively in Georgia and are typically available from April to September. Keep this in mind when planning your recipes and shopping for onions.

Taking these factors into account will help you select the perfect onion for your dish, ensuring a harmonious and delicious result.

The 5 Best Onions for Philly Cheesesteaks

When it comes to making the perfect Philly cheesesteak, the onion is an integral part of the sandwich.

If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional onions, here are five types of onions that will offer a unique flavor and texture:

1. Yellow Onions

Yellow Onions

Yellow onions are the go-to choice for Philly Cheesesteaks due to their robust flavor and natural sweetness.

This type of onion has a brown, papery skin and a pale-yellow flesh.

When cooked, yellow onions lose their pungency, softening into a delightfully tender and caramelized texture that complements the rich, meaty flavors of the cheesesteak.

Their versatility allows them to be grilled or sautéed, enhancing the savory essence of the sandwich without overpowering the other components.

2. White Onions

White Onions

White onions are known for their sharp, slightly pungent flavor, which becomes milder and sweeter upon cooking.

These onions have a pure white skin and interior, making them an aesthetically attractive addition to Philly Cheesesteaks.

White onions are particularly beloved for their unique ability to blend seamlessly with the other flavors within the sandwich, providing a subtle yet important undertone that balances out the rich beef and creamy cheese while offering a satisfying crunch.

3. Red Onions

Red Onions

For a zesty kick, red onions add a burst of color and a pleasant tang to Philly Cheesesteaks.

These onions have a deep-purple skin and a white, tinged-red interior that adds visual appeal to any dish.

While red onions are often used raw in salads and other dishes for their sharp, almost peppery taste, grilling or sautéing them for a cheesesteak mellows their intensity and imparts a gentle sweetness.

Their unique flavor profile adds depth to the sandwich, making them a delicious alternative for those looking to put a twist on the traditional Philly Cheesesteak.

4. Sweet Onions

Sweet Onions

Sweet onions are an excellent choice for those who prefer a milder onion flavor in their Philly Cheesesteaks.

Valued for their distinct sweetness and low sulfur content, these onions are perfect for caramelizing, which effortlessly pairs with the cheesesteak’s savory components.

Varieties such as Vidalia or Walla Walla sweet onions offer a pleasant, fruity aroma when cooked, infusing the sandwich with a subtle, well-rounded flavor that enhances the overall experience.

5. Shallots


Shallots may not be a conventional choice for Philly Cheesesteaks, but their delicate and slightly sweet taste makes them a worthy contender.

These small, teardrop-shaped onions have a light purple hue and closely resemble garlic cloves when peeled.

Their mild and refined flavor profile, which leans towards a balance between garlic and onion, adds an elegant touch to the sandwich without overpowering the cheese or meat.

Incorporating shallots into your Philly Cheesesteak allows for a delightfully nuanced and unique taste sensation that is truly unforgettable.

jenny happy muncher
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Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.