10 Cipollini Onions Substitutes [For Roasting, Sautéing, & More]

Lately, I have been seeing cipollini onions everywhere. Have you ever heard of Cipollini onions? They really seem to be the new onion trend!

If you have ever flipped through a cookbook, you may have seen this type of onion in lots of recipes.

But what should you do if you come across cipollini onions in a recipe and you don’t have any? One of these substitutes will surely help you!

Generally speaking, the best substitute for cipollini onions is whole or chopped shallots. Shallots have a similar, sweet flavor to cipollini onions. They are also a similar-sized onion making them perfect for roasting and eating whole. Chopped Vidalia onions can be used to replace sautéed Cipollini onions. Small pearl onions are perfect for roasting whole when you can’t find Cipollini onions. 

Cipollini Onions Substitutes

1) Vidalia Onions

Vidalia onions are a very sweet type of large onion. They have a similar flavor to cipollini onions but are significantly bigger. They are a great substitute to use in place of chopped cipollini. 

Vadilia Onions

True Vidalia onions come from Vidalia, Georgia. They are ripe and in season in the spring so look for them in your local grocery store around that time.

2)White Onions

White onions are very easy to find in grocery stores. You can find a nice, big white onion almost any time of year. It is an easy replacement for cipollini onions. 

white onions

White onions are much spicier and tangier than cipollini onions. However, they will work as a replacement if the onion is chopped and sauteed to help the sugars caramelize. Be sure to cook the white onions so they get as sweet as possible!

3)Yellow Onions

Yellow onions are a large onion variety that you should easily be able to find. They are a little milder than a classic white onion. This will mimic the taste of cipollini onions well. 

Ripe Golden Onions

Yellow onions are much bigger than cipollini so they will need to be chopped. Cook the diced white onions well so they develop more flavor.

4)Red Onions 

Red onions have a much more mild flavor than most onions. They are often eaten raw since they are not quite as bitter as a white onion. 

Red onions

Red onions can be used in place of chopped cipollini onions. They will have a different appearance since they are bright reddish-purple. The flavor will be similar, though!

5)Pearl Onions 

Pearl onions are a fantastic replacement for cipollini onions. Fresh pearl onions are very small, white onions. They are about the size of a quarter and usually come pre-peeled. 

Pearl onions are the perfect size for roasting whole. The soft, bite-sized onion will add a lot of flavor to any dish, just like a cipollini onion would!


Shallots are very closely related to cipollini onions. The oblong-shaped onion is sweet and garlicky. They are often used to flavor meats and stews.

Shallots can be roasted whole, just like cipollini onions. They are also a great replacement for chopped cipollini since the flavor profile is so similar. 

7)Seed Onions

You can often find seed onions in garden centers. These little onions are intended to be planted; however, they can also be cooked! 

seed onions

Seed onions are just small versions of large onions. For example, you can buy white seed onions that will only be the size of a bouncy ball.

If planted, they would grow to be quite large. As “seeds” they are still small and perfect for roasting to eat whole.


Leeks are tall, green stalks that are closely related to onions. The white base of the vegetable can be chopped and cooked just like an onion. 


Leeks have a much more mild onion flavor. That is why they make a perfect substitute for chopped cipollini onions!

9)Dried Onion Flakes

If you need to replace chopped cipollini onions in a recipe, try using dried onion flakes instead.

Dried onions are simply chopped onions that have been dehydrated. The onion flakes will soften when cooked, giving your food a mild onion taste. 

dried Onion flakes

Dried onion flakes are great to keep in your pantry. Use them anytime you need any kind of chopped onion in a recipe.


Garlic actually makes a pretty good substitute for cipollini onions. Yes, they do have a stronger and different flavor. However, they are just as sweet and rich when roasted or sauteed. 

Garlic Bulbs

Use minced garlic in place of chopped cipollini onions and whole garlic cloves to replace the whole cipollini in beef stew.

What Are Cipollini Onions?

Cipollini onions are an Italian heirloom type of onion. They are originally from Boretto, Italy, and are sometimes called Borettana onions. The name “cipollini” actually translates to mean “little onion.”

Flavor Of Cipollini Onions

The main reason people love using cipollini onions is due to their sweet, mild flavor. Cipollini are much sweeter than a regular, white onion. The sugary taste makes recipes taste sweet with a caramel flavor. 

While most onions have a spicy, potent tang, cipollini are pretty mild. They are often roasted and eaten whole since they are so sweet! 

As the little onions cook, they become even sweeter and less astringent. Even people who don’t like onions may be fans of the delicious, melt-in-your-mouth cipollini.

How To Use Cipollini Onions

Cipollini onions are often slow-roasted whole. The bite-sized onion grows sweeter and softer as it cooks.

Cipollini can be added to soups, slow-cooked meats or casseroles to enhance the flavor of almost any dish.

Try slicing cipollini onions very thinly then breading them to fry. Cipollini onion rings are out of this world! 

You can also place a few sliced cipollini in a jar with vinegar and garlic cloves to make sweet pickled onions. This is a perfect burger topping or food to serve on a charcuterie board.  

Are Cipollini Onions And Shallots The Same?

Cipollini onions and shallots are not the same. They are actually completely different varieties of onion! However, they are often mixed up since they have similar, sweet flavors. 

To begin, the shape of cipollini onion and shallots are different. Cipollini onions are flat while shallots are fairly round. They are both small onions but one quick look and you will be able to see the difference!

The flavor of shallots and cipollini also vary. Shallots are actually sweeter than cipollini. They have tons of natural sugars that you can taste even when the shallots are raw. 

Cipollini get sweeter as they cook and caramelize but shallots definitely take the cake when it comes to sweetness.

Both onions are pretty mild, though, and can add a rich onion taste without the strong sting of white onion. 

Where Do Onions Grow?

The best way to ensure you always have cipollini onions on hand is to grow your own! Cipollini onions grow well in mild climates. They are fairly cold hardy and can survive mild, freezing temperatures and warm summers. 

Plant seed onions early in the spring in loose soil. Tall green stalks will emerge from the seeds and eventually flower.

Pick off the flowers so the plant will focus its energy on developing the root. The root is the onion, after all!

Pick the onions at the end of the summer. Onions can be dried and stored for months in a cool dry place. You can have cippolini onions anytime you need them! 

Final Considerations

Cipollini onions are really a special vegetable. They add lots of sweet onion flavor to recipes and help give a tangy, caramel flavor unlike anything else. 

Cipollini onions are rare so they can be hard to find. Don’t let that discourage you!

Keep searching for this tasty ingredient and, in the meantime, use one of these easy replacements for cipollini onions. You will create delicious, sweet, oniony foods in no time! Enjoy.

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