Candy Onions: Description, Flavor, Benefits, And Uses

Candy onions are a tasty and unique vegetable that brings sweetness to every bite. They look like regular white onions but have a sugary glaze that gives them a unique flavor. They’re popular among chefs, home cooks, and foodies alike for their versatility in recipes and their sweet flavor. In this article, we’ll explore the history of candy onions, how to select and store them, and some delicious recipes you can try.

What are Candy Onions?

Candy onions, commonly known as cippolini onions, are a sweet variety of onions that look like small flattened globes. They have a mild flavor and delicately sweet taste, making them perfect for pickling or roasting. The thin skin makes them easy to peel, and the firm texture keeps them from falling apart when cooked.

Candy onions can be raw in salads or cooked in soups, stews, and stir-fries. They also make a unique and flavorful addition to roasted vegetables and grilled dishes. In Italian cuisine, candy onions are often used as an accompaniment to veal and as part of the classic dish Vitello tonnato. In France, they are popularly served with duck dishes. Regardless of how they are prepared, candy onions add flavor and texture to any dish.

Candy Onions Description

History and Origin of Candy Onions

Candy onions, also known as “candy-coated” or pickled onions, are believed to have originated in the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century. Back then, they were called Pickled Onions and were usually served as an accompaniment to fish and chips. However, the modern version of candy onions is said to have developed in Scotland and Ireland during the 1920s. These sweet-tart treats are typically made by pickling pearl onions in sugar, vinegar, and other spices. The result is a crunchy, sweet-tart treat with an unmistakable flavor.

Candy onions were popularized in the United States during the mid-twentieth century when they became a staple of cocktail parties and holiday feasts. Today, candy onions are a beloved accompaniment to many dishes, including salads, sandwiches, and burgers. They can be served as an appetizer or snack or used as a topping for savory dishes. No matter how you enjoy them, candy onions are sure to please.

Description of the Candy Onions

The Candy onions are bulbs of the Allium cepa species that are usually round and about 4-5 cm in diameter. Each bulb has a thin, papery outer skin, with the inner sections containing multiple layers of white or yellow flesh. The Candy onion is sweet and mild in flavor, with a taste similar to bulbing onions, but they have less of an onion-like aftertaste.

They are often used as a garnish or ingredient in various dishes, such as salads and stir-fries. The outer skin is thin enough to be peeled by hand, and the inner layers can be easily cut into slices or diced for cooking.

Flavor Profile of the Candy Onions

Sweet, savory, and juicy. The sweet flavor comes from the sugar content in the onion itself, while the savory notes are provided by the garlic and herbs used in the pickling process. The juicy texture comes from the natural juiciness of the onion itself. Candy onions have a unique, sweet-and-sour taste that adds an interesting flavor to any dish. They add extra oomph to dishes like salads, stir-fried noodles, and sandwiches.

Health Benefits of Candy Onions

The candy onion is high in antioxidants, which are beneficial for fighting off the damage caused by free radicals. It also contains a range of vitamins and minerals that can help to boost immunity, promote healthy skin, and reduce inflammation. Additionally, it is beneficial in aiding digestion, treating infections, and reducing blood sugar levels. The sweet taste of the candy onion makes it a great snack choice for those looking to avoid unhealthy treats.

Finally, its high fiber content helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer, making it an excellent choice for weight management. The candy onion is a delicious and nutritious way to get your daily dose of healthy nutrients.

Cultivation of the Candy Onions

Candy onions are a very easy crop to grow and can be planted mid-spring. They require well-drained soil rich in organic matter and should be grown in full sun for best results. The soil should be moist evenly throughout the growing season but not overly wet. When planting your candy onions, space them about 10 cm apart in rows 30 cm apart. Mulch around the plants to help keep weeds down and conserve moisture. Depending on the variety grown, candy onions will take 60 to 90 days to mature.

Once they reach maturity, allow the tops to yellow and flop over before harvesting them. To harvest, grasp a plant’s top and gently pull it up. Brush off any excess dirt, and store the onions in a cool, dry place. Keep them away from direct sunlight and heat sources to ensure they don’t spoil quickly. Enjoy your crop of candy onions.

Harvesting of the Candy Onions

The harvest process for candy onions is relatively straightforward but requires care and attention. The best time to harvest candy onions is when the tops of the plants have started to turn brown and dry. This usually happens in late summer or early fall.

Once you have determined that the onions are ready for harvesting, use a spade or digging fork to loosen the soil around the onion plants carefully. Gently lift and remove each plant from the ground, not damaging the bulbs.

Trim off any excess foliage with scissors or kitchen shears, then lay out your harvested onions on a flat surface in a cool, dry place. Allow them to cure for several days before moving them into storage.

Where do Candy Onions Grow region-wise?

Candy onions are most commonly grown in the Mediterranean region, with Italy and Spain being two of the main producers. Other countries in the region that produce candy onions include Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Morocco, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Candy onions are also popular in Central America, particularly in Mexico and Guatemala.

In the United States, they are grown primarily on California’s Central Coast, although some are also in Texas and Florida. In Canada, candy onions can be found in British Columbia and Ontario. Other parts of the world where candy onions are grown include South Africa, India, China, and Australia.

In Europe, candy onions are usually sold as a specialty item in markets or greengrocers, while in other countries, they might be available in grocery store chains. In the United States, candy onions are often found in farmers’ markets and specialty stores. They may also be available at local grocers or online, although it may take some searching to find them.

What are the Things to Remember When Buying Candy onions?

  1. Check the size – Candy onions can range from small to extra large, so check the size before buying.
  2. Look for firm bulbs – The best Candy onions will have firm, tight skins with no blemishes or signs of decay. Avoid any bulbs that are wilted or spotted.
  3. Choose based on color – Select a bulb based on its color. They usually range from white to yellow-brown; even purple varieties are available in some areas.
  4. Buy organic if possible – If you’re looking for healthier options, try to buy organic Candy onions whenever possible, as these won’t contain any toxic chemicals or pesticides that can harm your health.
  5. Enjoy the flavor -These sweet little bulbs add a subtle sweetness to dishes like salads and stir-fries, so don’t be afraid to experiment and enjoy!

What is the Best Way to Store Candy Onions?

The best way to store Candy onions is to keep them in an airtight container, away from light and moisture. Store them in a cool, dark place with good ventilation. Ensure the containers are clean and dry to avoid spoilage or mold growth. Additionally, wrap each onion individually in plastic before storing it in the container for extra protection.

It is also important to check stored Candy onions regularly for signs of decay or mold. Throw out any that show signs of spoilage immediately. With proper storage, Candy onions can last up to one year without losing flavor and texture.

How can Candy Onions be used in recipes with other Fruits and Vegetables?

Candy onions can be used in various ways depending on the flavor profile you are looking to achieve. They are especially delicious when combined with other sweet fruits and vegetables, such as apples, carrots, or squash. They also play nicely with savory flavors like garlic, ginger, and chili peppers. For a deliciously sweet-savory combination, try roasting candy onions alongside potatoes and root vegetables for an easy side dish.

Alternatively, they can be added to salads for a flavorful crunch or used as a topping for grilled meats or fish. Candy onions also pair well with dairy products such as yogurt and cheese for creamy dressings and dips. With so many possibilities, candy onions will surely add sweetness to any recipe.


Candy onions are a sweet and flavorful addition to any dish. When stored properly, they can last up to one year in an airtight container away from light and moisture. With their versatile flavor profile, Candy onions can enhance sweet and savory dishes. From salads to side dishes to dressings and dips, Candy onions will surely bring a special sweetness that will bring your friends and family back for more! So what are you waiting for? Get cooking with candy onions today – you won’t regret it! Enjoy the delicious experience.

Mitch Baylis