Home > Substitute > 16 Pearl Onion Substitutes You Should Have a Try

16 Pearl Onion Substitutes You Should Have a Try

“Onions! I don’t like them; they make me cry! ”

No vegetable makes anyone laugh, so we have to make do. Thankfully pearl onions are much milder; their taste can give your meal that “extra flavor.”

This article will discuss the substitutes for pearl onions. This will be fun; let’s get started!

15-Second Summary

  • Pearl Onions are baby onions with a sweet taste and a mild onion flavor.
  • Pearl onions can be found in large grocery stores or bought online.
  • Pearl Onion can be substituted with frozen pearl onion, white onion, leeks, celery, shallots, scallions, red onion, and supasweet onions in your recipe.

What Are Pearl Onions?

Pearl onions are like white onions, but they are smaller. Pearl onions are also called baby, silverskin, or button onions.

pearl onions

Unlike the regular onion, the size of this onion ranges from a quarter-inch to about half an inch in diameter. They have a milder flavor and sweeter taste when compared with regular onion. These precious babies also come in red and yellow varieties.

Now that we are acquainted with this juicy silverskin onion let’s talk about what can substitute them in a meal to give e the same mild sweet flavor.

What Can You Substitute for Pearl Onions

1. Frozen Pearl Onions

Our first recommendation is the frozen version of the original. Fresh pearl onions might be challenging to find, depending on your location.

Therefore, if you find frozen pearl onions, don’t be afraid they will work just as fine. The frozen onions have less moisture, their taste might be slightly concentrated, but they work fine.

You can replace frozen pearl onions with fresh pearl onions in the same quantity.

You can find frozen pearl onions in the freezer section of grocery stores, usually peeled and packed.

2. Shallots


Shallots are an excellent pearl onion substitute; they are also sweet but with a hint of sharpness and garlic undertones. Feel free to use them in soups, stews, and even vinaigrette; it adds an aromatic flavor to them.

Shallots and pearl onions don’t have the same sweetness levels; to beef up the sweetness, you can add sugar and vinegar to your dish. Use a ¾ substitute ratio for shallot in your recipe.

3. Cipollini Onions

cipollini onions

If there is any onion that beats the sweetness of pearl onions, it’s cipollini onion.

This onion has a high sugar content and also a strong flavor. They are small and flat, so you can place them on food without worrying about their size.

Cipollini onions caramelize quickly, making them excellent options for flavor and texture in stuffed shells or lasagna.

4. White Onions

white onions

Remember that pearl onions are baby white onions; these adult onions can substitute for them in your recipe.

Although white onions have a sharp taste and a crunchy texture, you can eat them raw or cooked.

If your recipe calls for ½ cup of pearl onions, substitute with ¾ cup of white onion.

5. Cocktail Onions

cocktail onions

Cocktail onions are hybrid onions made from pickling pearl onions in brine with paprika and turmeric.

The extra flavor of cocktail onions makes them a perfect substitute for rich meals that require a mild onion taste.

Yes, you guessed right, you can use them in your cocktails. They are eye-catching elements in cocktails. Use them in sandwiches, salads, and other dishes that require less “onionness.”

Cocktail onions cook faster than pearl onions. So cook them for shorter periods else it becomes soggy rather than soft.

6. Caperberries


We chose this alternative because they have the same tangy and tart taste as cocktail onions, only without the added ingredients.

Do you need a mind-blowing Gibson cocktail [1]? Use caperberries and thank us later!

When substituting caperberries for pearl onions, use in the same quantity. However, add it gradually and taste; this ensures that its taste doesn’t overshadow the taste you aim for.

7. Boiling Onions

boiling onions

This onion may not fit in terms of size, as it’s twice the size of pearl onions. However, you can trust the flavor it brings to your dish.

Boiling onions add a savory flavor with a crispy texture to your recipe. When cooked, it’s tender and mild on your palate.

8. Leeks


Think of leeks as cousins of pearl onions. They are family; hence leeks have similar mild, sweet, and “oniony” flavors like pearl onions.

Leeks substitute just fine for pearl onions but dice them before sautéing or roasting them. They are large.

9. Scallions


Scallions are also known as green onions. They are yet another cousin of pearl onions.

Scallions have green leaves that can be eaten cooked or raw. They are perfect for curries and seafood stews. Use the leaves to build the fragrance of such dishes.

Substitute three scallion bulbs where your recipe calls for one stalk of pearl onions.

10. Chives

chinese chives

Chives are vegetables with a mild, oniony flavor and hint of garlic notes. It has long green stems.

Unlike pearl onions, its flavor is not sharp, so you might want to consider that when you use it in your recipe.

One fresh stalk of chives equals one tablespoon of pearl onions. While dried chives have a higher concentration, so too much of them in your dish can cause a flavor change.

11. Spring Onion

spring onion

Spring onions have the same flavor as pearl onions but are milder. Both the bulb and its long, thin green top are edible.

Spring onions have a sweet and firm taste. They can be eaten raw or when cooked. Select onions with firm, spotless bulbs and bright green tops when grocery shopping. Avoid those that are dry or slippery.

Replace the number of pearl onions in your recipe with half the amount of spring onion.

12. Bulb Onion

bulb onion

The bulb or regular onion is a suitable pearl onion replacement because of its sweet and mild taste.

If you use this onion raw, get an onion flavor devoid of the green look and herby smell of pearl onions.

One or two pieces of bulb onion can replace one stalk of pearl onions.

13. Red Onion

red onion

Red onion may not be the best replacement for pearl onion in size and shape.

These onions don’t get bigger than 6 inches in diameter, so they are bigger than pearl onions.

If you are looking for a decorative onion substitute, we recommend red onion. Its purple, pink and red hues boost the appearance of your dish.

14. Super Sweet Onions

super sweet onions

You guessed right; they are super sweet hence their name! These onions have more taste than their other onion counterparts, and they are mild too.

They are gentle on the palate and the stomach as they have less acidity. Feel free to use supasweet in your fresh sandwiches and salads.

The best part of these supasweet bulbs is they don’t make you cry!

15. Celery


If you are a lover of green juices, this ingredient is a staple in your kitchen. It is easy for you so you can use it as a pearl onion replacement.

Celery roots serve as a good texture substitute for pearl onion, and on the bright side, it cooks faster.

If you don’t want a sweet substitute, celery is your best bet. It gives you flavor without an accompanying sweetness. Feel free to add some spice to enhance the taste.

Two grams of celery can replace one gram of celery in your recipe. To enhance the nutritional content of your meal, replace it with raw celery.

16. Fennel Bulbs

fennel bulbs

Fennel bulbs take after pearl onions in taste; it’s a sweet yellow vegetable and can be eaten raw.

The entire parts of the fennel plant can be consumed, and it’s tasty too. You can use fennel bulbs to prepare mixed greens, vegetable soups, or any other dish that calls for pearl onions.

Fennel bulb is quite strong, so substitute in a one for one ratio, as too much of it can hurt your palette.

Phew! That was a long list of substitutes, but thankfully, we curated a long list so you can have a lot of options.

At this point, let’s see how you can prepare a sumptuous meal of creamed pearl onions.

FAQ About Pearl Onions

Are pearl onions the same as shallots?

No, shallots are different from pearl onions. Pearl onions are smaller than shallots. The taste of shallots is sweet, but it has garlic undertones.

What can I substitute for pearl onions in beef bourguignon?

You can use regular onions, leeks, or small-sized shallots in beef bourguignon.

Where to buy pearl onions?

Large, well-organized grocery stores sell pearl onions, either fresh or frozen. You can also purchase ground pearl onions from stores.

Final Words

We are confident that you have a wide array of pearl onion substitutes for your recipe with this article. Go ahead to try them, and pick your favorites.

homemade creamed pearl onion

Creamed Pearl Onion

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

An easy recipe for creamed pearl onions.


  • 1 pound of pearl onion
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups of light cream
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste


    1. Place a large pot of salted water over medium heat, and add the pearl onions. Simmer for about 10minutes until it becomes tender, then drain.

    2. In a large skillet, melt butter, then stir in flour and nutmeg for about 5minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    3. To the flour mixture, add cream and stir. Allow to cook, and stir until it's bubbly and thick for about five more minutes.

    4. Add the onion and parsley to the thick mixture and cook for about 3 minutes. Once that is done, your creamed onion is ready.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 161Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 201mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 3g


Save it to your Pinterest board for easy access and future inspiration!

Related Posts

I’m Jennifer Schlette, a Registered Dietitian and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I love cooking, reading, and my kids! Here you’ll find the healthiest recipes & substitutions for your cooking. Enjoy, and be well, friends!

Leave a Comment

Skip to Recipe