What is the Difference Between Yellow and White Onion

The main difference between yellow and white onion is their distinct flavour profiles. Yellow onion, which has a yellow-brown papery skin, is a dry onion with a strong flavour, while white onion is a variety of dry onions with white papery skin and a mild flavour profile.

Yellow onions and white onions are two types of dry onions. They belong to the Allium plant family, which includes garlic, leeks, and chives.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Yellow Onion
     – Definition, Features
2. What is White Onion
     – Definition, Features
3. Similarities –Yellow and White Onion
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Yellow and White Onion
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Onion, Yellow Onion, White Onion

Difference Between Yellow and White Onion - Comparison Summary

What is Yellow Onion

Yellow onion is a dry onion that has a  strong flavour. Appearance-wise, yellow onions can take a range of colours varying from greenish-white and light yellow to white. The layers of papery yellow onion skin can take either a yellow-brown or a pale golden shade. Compared to white onions, yellow onions are richer in their sulphur content. This is the main reason for their relatively complex and stronger flavour profile.

Yellow vs White Onion

Yellow onions are rich in minerals, dietary fibre, vitamins, and antioxidant compounds, which make them a simple way of boosting the nutritional value of your daily diet. They are frequently consumed raw, roasted, grilled, or sautéed as they give your taste buds a sweet and mild taste.

Yellow onions are an annual crop available between spring and fall. Yellow onion is the most commonly grown onion in northern Europe and in the United States. Farmers then store the cultivated onions for the rest of the year, usually at cool a room temperature in a dark place. If you want to preserve them for an even longer period of time, it is better to wrap them in paper and place in a refrigerator. If the onions are already cut or peeled, it is essential to zeal them inside plastic bags before placing them in the refrigerator so that you will be able to preserve them for a few more days.

What is White Onion

White onion is a variety of dry onions with a light flavour profile. Similar to red onions, they have a high sugar and low sulphur content. This leads them to have a relatively short shelf life. White onions are specially blended into a variety of dishes: Mexican and European cuisine, especially because of their mild nature. They always add a  fresh and a sour taste to dishes.

Compare the Yellow and White Onions

Due to its palatable flavour profile, white onion is used as a central ingredient in making salads, stews and coleslaws. Their low astringency helps them to easily adopt a largely sweet flavour in the dish.

Similarities Between Yellow and White Onion

  • White and yellow onions belong to the Allium plant family, which includes garlic, leeks and chives.
  • Both varieties of onions share a pungent flavour.
  • Yellow and white onions, being allium, have shown extensive health benefits in relation to stomach and colorectal cancers.
  • Moreover, both onion varieties are a source rich in vitamin C.
  • They further facilitate the growth and maintenance of collagen, which provides structure to human skin and hair.
  • Both white and yellow onions are high in minerals, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, whereas they are low in calories.

Difference Between Yellow and White Onion


Yellow onion is a dry onion with a strong flavour and papery onion skin, which can be either yellow-brown or pale golden, while white onions are a variety of dry onions with white papery skin and a mild flavour.


White onions have a mild taste compared to the strong flavour of yellow onions.


Texture-wise, white onions are more tender and consist of thinner skin than yellow onions.


The main difference between yellow onions and white onions is that the white onions share a mild taste compared to the strong taste of the yellow onions. Whether yellow or white,  onions are a staple ingredient found in every kitchen. No matter how they are used – caramelized, used inside a sandwich, or used to top a burger – onions are a flavour powerhouse that can be sweet, savoury, and pungent all at once, adding extra flavour to any dish.


1. Krystal, Becky. “Great Recipes Start with an Onion. Here’s How to Know Which One to Use.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Oct. 2021.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Onions-yellow-onion-vegetables” (CC0) via Pixabay
2. “White onions for sale in supermarket” By Tomwsulcer – Own work (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Anuradha

Anuradha has a BA degree in English, French, and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Master's degree in Teaching English Literature in a Second Language Context. Her areas of interests include Arts and Literature, Language and Education, Nature and Animals, Cultures and Civilizations, Food, and Fashion.

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