What Are Sweet Onions?

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

what is maui onion

The Spruce Eats / Lindsay Kreighbaum

Sweet onions like Maui onions, Walla Wallas, or Vidalias are significantly less pungent than other onions. Their sweet, mild flavor lends them to being used raw or being simply cooked on their own. These easy ways to use sweet onions highlight their unique flavor.

Basic Onion Preparation Tips

Grilled Sweet Onions

multi colored onions
Sean Gallup / Staff / Getty Images

Peel the onions and cut them crosswise into thick slices. Use a thin wooden skewer through each slice to hold the rings together. Brush with olive or vegetable oil and cook over a medium-hot grill until brown and tender, about 10 minutes on each side. Sprinkle with salt or drizzle with sherry or red vinegar and serve with thick slices of raw tomato, grilled tomatoes, steak, or chicken.

Roasted Sweet Onions

Roasted onion

The Spruce

Peel the sweet onions, toss them with olive oil or vegetable oil to coat them, sprinkle them with salt and roast them in a 375 F oven until browned and tender, about 30 minutes. Top with freshly ground black pepper, freshly chopped herbs, or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, as you like.

Sweet Onion & Avocado Salad

Peel and chop a sweet onion. Peel and chop an avocado or two. Toss both with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of lemon or lime juice, a bit of ground cumin, a dash of cayenne, and salt to taste. Chopped jicama, cucumber, sweet corn kernels, or chopped red pepper all make excellent additions.

Air Fryer Bloomin' Onion

Air Fryer Bloomin' Onion

The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

A bloomin' onion is a fun way to use up an entire sweet onion. The flavor and experience are similar to onion rings, but this appetizer cuts a whole onion into bite-sized, tear-apart pieces that fan out like a flower. While it's most often deep-fried, this recipe uses an air fryer, so it cuts the fat significantly. You still get that delicious breaded onion to enjoy and the spicy dip that accompanies it is equally tasty.

Sweet Onion & Orange Salad

Cut sweet onion(s) into wedges. Peel and section two oranges for each sweet onion, being sure to do so over a bowl to catch the juices. Toss the onions, oranges, and reserved juice with salt, freshly ground pepper, and lemon or lime juice to taste. Garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro, if you like.

Sweet Onion Confit

Peel and slice several sweet onions. Heat a bit of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add sweet onions, sprinkle with salt, reduce heat to medium-low or low and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are extremely tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes. Keep the heat low enough so the sweet onions are cooking but not browning; caramelizing will brown them inside-out rather than bits of browning on the outside first. Finish with balsamic or sherry vinegar, if you like. Use Sweet Onion Confit alongside grilled or roasted meats or as a pizza topping.

Sweet Onion Raita (Yogurt Salad)

Peel and finely chop a sweet onion. Add enough plain yogurt to coat the onions, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add freshly chopped dill, parsley, mint, cilantro, or a combination. Serve Sweet Onion Raita with grilled meats or fish (particularly salmon or mackerel).

Sweet Onion Rings

Peel and cut onions into thick slices and separate into rings. Dip in buttermilk and dredge in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and a bit of cayenne. Heat an inch or two of vegetable or canola oil in a large, heavy pot until oil is about 350 F. Fry onions rings until golden brown, drain, and season with more salt.

Sweet Onion Sandwiches

Spread two slices of bread–white bread is good, but dark rye bread is better–with mayonnaise. Sprinkle each side with chopped parsley or basil, if you like. Place a thick slice of sweet onion on one slice, top with a thick slice of tomato, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and close sandwich with the second piece of bread.

Sweet Onion Taco & Enchilada Topping

Peel and finely chop a sweet onion. Toss with fresh lime juice, add a generous amount of finely chopped cilantro, and season to taste with salt. Add a healthy dollop of this mixture to tacos or on top of enchiladas.

Sweet Onion Tossed Salad

Sweet onions are a mild addition to your favorite tossed green salad. They match particularly well with mild Boston lettuce or butter lettuce leaves, cucumber, carrots, and radishes. Try Yogurt Mint Dressing or Buttermilk Dill Dressing for extra deliciousness.