Pearl Onions Substitutes

5 Pearl Onions Substitutes That Will Give You a Similar Taste

What are Pearl onions?

Pearl onions are a type of onion that has thin skin and white flesh.  The name comes from the shape of the bulb, which resembles a pearl. They are usually sold whole, but they can also be sliced into rings. They are typically smaller than a regular onion.

Who doesn’t love the sweet yet sharp flavor of onions in their food? They’re guaranteed to add a flavorsome edge to any plate, soup, or sandwich. 

Pearl onions are also famously served with meat and vegetables, and you’ll find them in salads and cocktail garnishes. 

Is it possible to find an equally tasty replacement for pearl onions? The answer is yes. Read on to learn about the five best pearl onion substitutes. 

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What Are the Top Substitutes for Pearl Onions?

Here are some great pearl onion substitute options that I’ve tried and found to be delicious!

1. Shallots are the most Common Substitution of all the onion varieties.

Shallots are known for being the onion’s lesser-known cousin. They’re a bit similar in appearance, yet shallots have a slightly less pungent taste and smell. Though, their size is close to the pearl onion, which makes them a great sub.

Fresh shallots are best used as a substitute for pearl onions in salads, soups, and slow-roasted meals or stews. You could also use them for making vinaigrette dressings. Their fine taste and sweet subtle flavor won’t make you feel that you’re not eating pearl onions. Sometimes these are called green onions.

Can You Substitute Pearl Onions for Onions
Can You Substitute Pearl Onions for Onions – yes you can substitute cool onions for regular ones but you will need more of them and they do not taste as strong.

2. Boiling Onions Are a very good alternative for pearl onions.

As the name suggests, boiling onions are commonly used in soups. They’re also famous for being used in stews and braised foods. They have a very subtle flavor, unlike red onions, and they’re easy to find at any time of the year.

Boiling onions are double the size of pearl onions, but they make the perfect replacement for them. They are similar in size to normal onions that you make french onion soup with. You’ll barely feel the difference in taste.

3. Caper Berries

These substitutes almost match the size of pearl onions. They might even be a little smaller. They’re best used as a garnish, but they’re also commonly used with chicken, beef, or fish. Like pearl onions, caper berries have a sharp taste and a pungent smell.

Caper berries make the best substitute for pickled pearl onions. This is why you could easily place them in your cocktails. Their sweetness tends to complement the flavor of cocktails such as Martinis and Gibsons. Caper berries deliver the same crispiness that’s needed in a garnish.

4. Cipollini Onions

Cipollini onions easily match the sweet taste of pearl onions. They’re, in fact, much sweeter than other kinds of onions. This is why they’re best served as caramelized onions, just like pearl onions are used in soup. This method adds an incredible burst of flavor to your food, even as raw onions.

Like shallots, cipollini onions have a strong flavor that makes them an eligible substitute. Their pungent nature adds depth and richness to your dishes and soups.

5. White Onions

Can’t seem to find any pearl onions in the market? White onions are guaranteed to rescue your meal. They are a very popular variety of onions. Their sweet and mild nature makes them a superb stand-in for pearl onions. They can be eaten both raw and cooked.

Adding some white onions to your salad will give the same savory taste that pearl onions give. They’ll deliver the same flavor that your taste buds will thank you for. These are sometimes called a yellow onion.

6. Canned Pearl Onions

this is a little bit of a cheat – but why not if you are out of fresh pearl onions then canned pearl onions are great for adding flavor to recipes without having to deal with the hassle of growing your own. I recommend using them in place of fresh pearl onions whenever possible. Plus you get all the convenience of pre-cooked pearl onions, without having to peel them and get tears in your eyes.

The only downside is that they lack the crunchy texture that fresh ones do, but still have the oniony flavor.

Sometime people will buy these in advance to bulk freeze, so of course, you can use frozen pearl onions also. They will have a milder flavor.

7. Onion Flakes

Onions or all varieties are one of the most commonly used ingredients in cooking. The most convenient substitute for pearl onions is by using onion flakes instead, after all they are part of the onion family. These are simply sliced onions that have been dehydrated so that they become crunchy and crispy. They have a long shelf life and can be used for a lot of other substitutions also.

Leeks Can Sometimes Be a Good Substitute for Pearl Onions
Leeks Can Sometimes Be a Good Substitute for Pearl Onions

8. Leeks

Leeks are one of those vegetables that we love to hate because of their strong, pungent smell. But leeks are actually quite delicious when cooked properly. They add a wonderful depth of flavor to soups, stews, and curries, and this is where leeks can act as an alternative for pearl onions.

9. Chives

Chives are a versatile alternative for some recipes instead of pearl onions. Furthermore, chives are available year-round, unlike pearl onions which are seasonal. Chives are delicate enough to use as a garnish, while still delivering a pleasant flavor.

If you need to replace pearl onions, this is one of the most creative alternatives to pearl onions.

The plant has a long history of medicinal uses, including being used to fight infections and ease digestion. It’s also known for its ability to boost memory and concentration.

10. Garlic

Garlic on some circumstances can be substituted for pearl onions. The most common substitute for garlic is onion powder, which has a similar taste and texture. Onion powder is made from dehydrated onions, so it doesn’t contain all of the nutrients found in fresh onions.  

Are Pearl Onions the Same as Shallots?

No, they’re not the same thing at all. Shallots are larger than pearl onions and have a stronger flavor. They’re usually found in Asian markets, but if you can’t find them, try using regular white onions instead.

Pearl Onions Substitutes
Pearl Onions Substitutes

What Does a Pearl Onion Taste Like?

A pearl onion is a type of onion that is smaller than normal onions.

Pearl onions taste mildly sweet and have a juicier, firmer texture than regular white onion. They’re usually used for cooking dishes where their sweet taste isn’t too strong.

They are typically sold whole or halved. When buying pearl onions, look for firm bulbs that feel heavy for their size. Avoid any that feel soft or overly moist.

Do Pearl Onions Need to Be Peeled

Yes, Pearly onions must be peeled before eating because the skin is too thick and thought, plus it tastes bad with the skin on.

Pearl onions that are fresh do not peel easily.

How Do You Peel Pearl Onions

You peel pearl onions by boiling or blanching them in water for between 30 and 60 seconds. Then put them in a bowl of iced water to halt the cooking. From there the skins just almost remove themselves.

Do Pearl Onions Make You Cry?

Yes, sometimes people cry when they eat pearl onions, but not as much as white or yellow onions.

Are Pearl Onions the Same as Regular Onions?

Pearl onions are not the same, they are much smaller than regular onions. Baby onions are sometimes called pearl onions. The taste of these smaller onions is also quite a bit sweeter.