Can I Use a Different Kind of Onion Than a Recipe Calls For? Yes & No, Rachael Says

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Playing Onion Debate — Does It Matter What Kind You Use? | Q Ray & J

Onions make us cry enough (LOL) — so Rachael is here to make your lives easier when it comes to cooking with them.

"Onions are a really large family," Rach says. There are white onions, yellow onions, red onions and more — and as if that's not enough, there are also shallots and leeks to complicate things just a little bit more.

BUT don't get too hung up on which to use, she says. 

Does it matter which onion I use?  

"Listen, if I have a white onion and I don't have a yellow-skinned onion, I use the white onion," Rach says. "If I have a red onion and I don't have a yellow-skinned or a white onion, guess what wins? The red onion! It's going to put the flavor into the dish that tastes like onion. If you're using it as one of multiple ingredients in making a red sauce or a marinara or chili, for instance, you're fine. Use whatever onion you've got in the house."

MORE: How To Cut an Onion The Rachael Way

Can I substitute leeks or shallots for onions?

"Leeks are a little different, they're more subtle," Rach explains. "And shallots are kind of different, but just marginally. If you're just going to add onion flavor, you can even do it with granulated onion or dried onion, of course. You can get there in a lot of different ways. Don't be too cognizant of that."

Here's the catch — albeit not an unexpected one! You should care about what onion you're using if onion is the star of the dish — like French Onion Soup

Which onion should I use for French Onion Soup?

"If you're making a dish where that ingredient is the star, like you're making French Onion Soup, then you care about the onion being nice and tight and not spongy and the skin is still tight when you try to peel them. And you want five or six really big onions to fill the pot before you slowly, slowly caramelize them and develop their sugars. They should be uniform in shape and size and all of the same variety. I just used a large yellow-skinned onion for French Onion Soup. If you're making something where that ingredient is the star, that's when you worry."

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