From ramps to reds, there's a perfect onion for every dish.
onions and their cousins
Credit: © Arielle Cifuentes

Onions are your culinary companions year-round, but spring in particular is a great time to get to know the bevy of bulbs and greens awaiting you in the produce aisle. As ramps season ramps up, so too can you expect to see sweeter spring onions appearing on your plate.

Then there are the bigger fellas, like your standard yellow, white and red onions, a whole smattering of regionalized sweet onion varieties, garlicky shallots, and finally some tiny marble-sized siblings perfect for pickling and simmering into soups and stews. Whether you’re looking for something grilled, braised, fried into rings and strings or just plain raw, there’s a right onion for the job.

onions and their cousins
Credit: © Arielle Cifuentes

What does the key mean?

Below is a quick guide to all of the preparation methods referenced in the key and the applications to which they refer.

Grill: Onions that will hold up to, and only be improved by, a good char. Small onions or wedges of larger sizes on kebabs and some green varieties are perfect throwing on the barbecue.

Fry: This can include both pan frying or breading and battering for a deep fry.

Boil: These onions are perfect for low and slow simmering in soups and stews.

Roast: Oven-ready onions that can accompany protein or be mixed into a medley of other root-y vegetables.

Raw: The flavor in these onions is tolerable enough to let them be added as-is to salads, sandwiches, salsas, dressings and more.

Pickle: Brine and time will only improve the taste of these onions, which can then be snacked on alone or used as a garnish on everything from brisket to tacos.

Sautée: Onions that sweat and caramelize well, adding flavor and sometimes texture. This application would include stir-fry as well.

Braise: Hearty onions that can stand up to the heat for long cooking times and add robust flavor.

Garnish: Raw onions that can top off baked potatoes, soups and more, or even be added to flavor baked goods.