Whether you're a confident chef or just learning the basics in the kitchen, you might have wondered: is onion a vegetable? The answer may surprise you!
Onion is a common ingredient in many dishes, but is it a vegetable? The answer may surprise you.
Sometimes it's obvious when produce is a vegetable (carrot is a root vegetable), while others are a little more confusing (avocado is actually a fruit).
Then there are other varieties of produce that will have you scratching your head, like if you're wondering, 'is onion a vegetable?'.
Read on for all the info you need!
What is onion
Onions are widely cultivated vegetables, of the genus Allium, known for adding flavor to many dishes.
Varieties include red, yellow, brown, and smaller shallots. Thought to be native to southwest Asia, they are now grown throughout the world. They typically grow in temperate climates and were first cultivated thousands of years ago.
The bulbs are made up of layers of flesh, with papery skins.
Onions are an edible vegetable in the allium family, which also includes red onions, yellow onions, spring onions, leeks, ramps, scallions, chives, and shallots.
Onions are a base ingredient that adds flavor to many dishes. They are a main component of mirepoix, which is a combination of onion, carrots, and celery that are sauteed and used as an aromatic base for soups, stocks, and sauces.
Make the most of onions in French Onion Soup, or French Onion Dip.
Also, be sure to check out Is Garlic A Vegetable?
Classifications of Vegetables
Before we can determine the answer to the question, is garlic a vegetable? we need to learn a little more about how vegetables are classified.
There are 3 classifications of "Vegetable": culinary, botanical and legal.
Culinary Vegetables: These are edible plants and plant parts that are considered veggies for cooking purposes. They are usually savory or are put into savory dishes. This includes pumpkins, eggplant, tomatoes and bell peppers, which are, botanically speaking, fruits.
Botanical Vegetables: Botany is the study of plants. Botanically, a fruit is seed-bearing and develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, while vegetables are all other parts of the plant, such as roots, stems and leaves.
Therefore, seeded parts of plants, such as apples, squash, green beans, okra, tomatoes, cucumber etc... are all botanically fruits. Roots, such as potatoes, beets, turnips, stems, such as celery and asparagus and leaves, such as spinach and kale, are all botanically, veggies.
Legal Vegetables: Some edible plants are legally classified as vegetables for tariff, tax and regulatory purposes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1893 (case: Nix v. Hedden) that tomatoes are legally vegetables, for customs purposes, despite them botanically being fruits.
If you want to know more about veggies, check out this List of Vegetables A-Z, Cruciferous Vegetables, or All About Legumes.
Is onion a vegetable?
In botanical terms, onion is a vegetable from the onion family (Allium sativum). Since it is the root of the plant, onion is a root vegetable.
Is leek an onion?
Leeks are part of the allium family, like onions and garlic. They have a cylindrical white bulb and broad leaves and look like a large green onion/scallion/spring onion.
When raw, they have a stronger taste, but when cooked they mellow with a mild oniony sweetness.
Is shallot an onion?
Shallots are a small elongated variety of onions, with a mild taste and thin layers. They can be eaten raw, cooked, fried, or pickled. Try crispy shallots on a salad.
Onion is a wonderful way to add bold flavor to many dishes. Try these tasty onion recipes!
- Tomato Onion Salad
- Onion Tarte Tatin
- French Onion Dip
- Fried Potatoes and Onions
- Blooming Onion
- Onion Gravy
- 35 Onion recipes to try
Quick Pickled Onions
- 1 red onion
- 3 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Peel and thinly slice the onion.
- Place the onion, vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil.
- Take off the heat and allow to cool.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors, so is not guaranteed to be accurate. Please see a registered dietician for special diet advice.
Jeff the Chef @ Make It Like a Man!
Thanks for this post. I enjoyed it. I've read about the three classifications before, and I find it interesting. One of the things I read that I thought was really cool is that fruits are one of the rare foods that are "meant" to be eaten. What I mean is, the plant depends one someone (or something) taking the fruit away, eating it, and expelling it seeds (which are designed to pass through the digestive system) in another location, accompanied by fertilizer. When you eat veg, though, you're consuming something that the plant needs in order to survive. I'm defining those terms in the botanical sense, obviously.