Substitute for Pearl Onions: Top 10 Alternatives

pearl onions

Onions are part of our daily cooking habits. You can use them basically in most recipes to which you’ll add a nice smell and taste.

Moreover, there are many types of onions, one of which is pearl onions. These tiny white, dried onions are commonly utilized in soups, stews, or meaty dishes.

Since they are small, it may be hard to peel them off. Pearl onions can be red, white, or brown and you can find them at your local market.

If you can’t find fresh pearl onions, you have the option of choosing them frozen. But if you don’t have any pearl onions on hand, is there something else that can be used?

Can I substitute pearl onions? Yes, pearl onions can be replaced with frozen pearl onions, shallots, cocktail onions, cipollini, boiling onions, green onions, leeks, chives, celery, carrots, and fennel bulbs.

Our 10 options will help you make the best choice, which vegetable will suit best to your dish. Scroll down and find out more. 

Substitutes for Pearl Onions

1. Frozen pearl onions

If you are out of fresh pearl onions,  replace them with frozen pearl onions. They are easily found and what is important to know is that when frozen, the pearl onions come pre-peeled. They actually have a characteristic sweet taste with caramel traces. Use equal amounts when replacing. 

2. Shallots


You can easily replace pearl onions with shallots. They have a mild taste that resembles the taste of the onions. If you compare these two types of onions, you can conclude that pearl onions and shallots are very similar in size and taste. Use equal amounts when replacing,

3. Cocktail onions

One of the many types of onion that can serve as a great substitute for pearl onions is cocktail onions. As the name suggests they are often used in cocktails. They are actually pearl onion pickled with small amounts of turmeric and paprika. They are made from sweet onions and can be used as a cocktail garnish. 

4. Cipollini


A variety of onions that can replace pearl onions is the cipollini. These Italian onions are round, flat, and a bit large when compared to pearl onions.

Also, they’re sweet and resemble the taste of pearl onions, so you can use them as a substitute in most recipes. Since they come from Italy, cipollini is used in sauces or other traditional meals. 

5. Boiling onions

White Onion

Slightly smaller than pearl onions, boiling onions can replace them in any recipe. Boiling onions are white and have a mild flavor which is similar to pearl onions.

As their name suggests they are typically used for soups, stews, and braises. When compared, boiling onions are twice the size of pearl onions. Use a bit more than is required in the recipes. 

6. Green onions

Green onions

Green onions or scallions are vegetables that can be used to replace pearl onions in most meals. They have a mild, fresh taste which adds a nice touch to your meals. You can finely chop them and serve them in salads, soups, stews, or roasted or fried. Substitute equal amounts. 

7. Leeks


Another vegetable that can be used as a replacement for pearl onions is the leeks. What makes leeks suitable as a replacement for pearl onions is their taste.

They have a mild, sweet, and mellow taste which is very similar to onions. You can eat it raw or add it in Scopus, salads, meats, dressing, or many other dishes that require pearl onions.

Something that can replace the taste of pearl onions is chives. Its mild flavor is closely related to onions and garlic. This vegetable will fit perfectly in your recipes and replace the complex flavor of onions. Use chives to make salads, soups, vegetable stocks, or many other recipes. 

8. Celery


An aromatic tasty vegetable that’s a good replacement for pearl onions is celery. It provides a combination of a mild and strong taste at the same time.

You can easily replace celery instead of pearl onions in most recipes. You have to keep in mind the taste, because some people may not enjoy it. Replace equal amounts or modify based on your taste. 

9. Carrots


A very common and vegetable that we often include in our cooking is carrots. It’s sweet, earthy, and can be eaten raw. Carrots are healthy and provide many nutritious benefits. You can replace pearl onions with carrots in many recipes.

Meaning you can always add more of the carrots and omit adding onions. They will give a nice touch to your meal. Use carrots in salads, baking goods, and meat. Use equal amounts or adapt by your taste.

10. Fennel bulb

Fennel bulb

A very similar veggie that resembles onions is the fennel bulb. These bulbs can be eaten raw and have a sweet taste. You can make vegetable soups, salads, or any dish that asks for pearl onions. Adapt based on your recipe and substitute equal amounts. 


What is the difference between pearl onions and regular onions?

When comparing pearl onions and regular onions, you need to know that pearl onions are also known as baby onions and are very similar to the white ones but are smaller and sweeter. They both are juicy, healthy, and commonly used in cooking.

Can you substitute pearl onions for onions?

Yes, you can. They are very similar and the difference between them is that the pearl onions are sweeter and smaller.

Are pearl onions the same as boiling onions?

They are similar but not the same. Pearl onions are white, small, and dried onions that are used in soups, stews, or other meaty dishes. Whereas the boiling ones are bigger. 

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