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The 5 Best Onions for French Onion Soup

Nothing beats a bowl of steamy French Onion Soup on a cool autumn evening.

Onions are one of the star ingredients in this classic soup, and it’s important to choose the right variety for an amazing flavor.

But what kind of onions should you use to make French Onion Soup?

The best onions for French onion soup are yellow onions or Spanish onions, as they provide a sweet flavor and caramelize nicely when cooked. Other varieties like red or white onions can also be used, though they won’t provide the same sweetness as their yellow counterparts.

Ready to make some delicious French Onion Soup but are unsure which type of onion to choose?

Let’s take a look at the different types available and how each type will affect your soup!

How To Pick The Right Onion

French Onion Soup

Selecting the perfect onion is an essential step in creating a dish that brims with flavor, depth, and texture. Consider the following factors when choosing the right onion for your culinary masterpiece:

  1. Flavor Profile: Onions come in various taste profiles, including sharp and pungent, mild and subtle, or sweet and delicate. Determine the desired flavor balance of your dish, and then choose an onion that complements that harmony. For example, opt for white onions for a bolder, more forceful taste or sweet onions for a milder, mellower contribution.
  2. Cooking Technique: Assess the onion’s suitability for the intended cooking method by delving into its texture and sweetness. For example, yellow onions, which work well in slow-cooked dishes like caramelized onions or French Onion Soup, maintain their structural integrity and develop a delicious sweetness during prolonged cooking. On the other hand, red onions shine in raw preparations, such as in salads, salsas, and sandwiches, for their crisp texture and vibrant color.
  3. Seasonal Availability: Like other produce, onions have their particular seasons, which can impact their quality, flavor, and price. While most onions are available year-round, some specialty varieties like Vidalia, Cipollini, or Walla Walla sweet onions may only be available during specific seasons. Keep an eye out for seasonal onion varieties to take advantage of their peak flavors.
  4. Storage and Shelf Life: Different onions have varying shelf lives, which can impact your ingredient selection. Yellow onions can be stored for several months in cool, dry conditions, while sweet onions have a shorter shelf life and require a higher moisture environment. Choose an onion variety based on how long you intend to store them and the specific storage conditions available.

What Kind of Onions for French Onion Soup?

French Onion Soup is a classic dish that can be enjoyed any time of year.

The key to making a successful soup is selecting the right kind of onion.

Here are five types of onions that will give you the best flavor for your soup:

1 – Yellow Onions

Yellow Onions

When it comes to making French onion soup, yellow onions are an excellent choice.

Known for their sweetness and savoriness, these alliums have a superior flavor profile that sets them apart from other varieties.

Their mild taste can be attributed to the high water content of the bulbs, making them highly desirable for a wide range of dishes.

When cooked slowly, yellow onions develop a deep caramelized flavor that is sure to impress the toughest critics. As a result, they are often the preferred option for French onion soup due to their unique combination of flavors and textures.

2 – Spanish Onions

Spanish Onions

For those seeking a slightly sweeter onion variety than traditional yellow onions, Spanish onions make an ideal substitute.

Subtle yet robust in flavor, these alliums feature pungent notes with a delicate balance between sweet and tart.

These onions provide a pleasant crunch when used as raw accompaniments while also adding depth to cooked dishes such as stews and soups.

For French onion soup in particular, Spanish onions produce an intense flavor and aroma that will leave your mouthwatering for more.

3 – Red Onions

Red Onions

Red onions offer an incredibly versatile option for French onion soup given their crisp texture and intense flavor profile. These pungent alliums bring both sweet and spicy notes to your dish without overwhelming the palate.

Red onions can be used raw in salads or sandwiches but truly shine when cooked down into a caramelized state as part of a delicious soup like French onion soup.

Not only do red onions add bold hues to your culinary creations, but they also offer various health benefits due to their nutrient-dense makeup.

4. White Onions

White Onions

White onions, characterized by their papery white skin and sharp, tangy flavor, hold an esteemed place in the culinary realm, particularly for their versatility and strong aroma.

When it comes to crafting a sumptuous French Onion Soup, white onions’ robust flavor lends an essential depth to the dish.

As the onions cook, they release their pungency and caramelize, transforming into a beautifully sweet and savory element that pairs harmoniously with the rich beef broth and aromatic herbs.

Additionally, white onions maintain their structural integrity throughout the cooking process, ensuring each bite of French Onion Soup is packed with hearty texture and mouthwatering taste.

5. Sweet Onions

Sweet Onions

Sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, serve as another ideal variety for enhancing the indulgence of French Onion Soup. Known for their mild, subtle flavor and near-tearless experience when chopping, sweet onions offer a delicate, nuanced taste profile that allows the soup’s other ingredients to shine.

The low sulfur content in sweet onions contributes to their gentle nature, providing a well-balanced sweetness when cooked and caramelized.

These onions are particularly adept at soaking up the rich flavors of the beef broth, herbs, and spices while retaining their tender, succulent texture. Incorporating sweet onions into your French Onion Soup ensures a lusciously smooth and delightfully sweet dining experience, guaranteed to impress all who partake.

French Onion Soup

5 Best Onions for French Onion Soup

Unlock the secret to a mouthwatering bowl of French Onion Soup with our guide to choosing the perfect onion variety. Discover how the right onion can elevate your soup from good to truly unforgettable!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine French
Servings 4 people
Calories 34 kcal


  • Yellow Onions
  • Spanish Onions
  • Red Onions
  • White Onions
  • Sweet Onions


  • Select your favorite type of onion from this article.
  • Prep a delicious French onion soup in 30 minutes or less!
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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.