Nowadays, there are so many types of onions available. Who would’ve thought this would be such an important factor? The flavor of onions is used to make fajitas, which are an example of a popular dish that uses onions as a flavoring agent.
But is there a “best” onion to choose for fajitas? When it comes down to it, availability will be the main determinant. After that, it is down to the flavor profile you want to create. For a more savory fajita, you can use white or yellow onions, or sweet onions like Vidalia or Walla Walla can be used.
As we discuss today, there are many more wonderful onion options. Firstly, let’s look at deciding factors that will help you determine which onion goes best with your fajita recipe. Then, we’ll discuss the best onions that complement fajitas beautifully!
What Are Fajitas Made Of?
If you want to know what fajitas are and what they should taste like, you must first understand what fajitas are. A colorful, flavorful, and texture-packed Tex-Mex dish. The dish usually consists of grilled meat strips, sliced bell peppers, and sliced onions served inside or on top of a corn or flour tortilla. A fajita is traditionally made with skirt steak, also called “Arrachera.” Today, any tender, juicy cut of beef or even chicken can be used. Many people make fajitas vegetarian.
A variety of condiments are often served with this dish alongside the three main components. Some of these include fresh shredded lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, fresh salsa, Pico de Gallo, refried beans, and shredded Mexican cheese.
How To Choose The Best Onions For Fajitas
It’s no secret that fajitas have a complex flavor profile! Although the grilled meat makes the dish extremely savory and umami, the grilled bell peppers and onions generally give it a sweeter flavor. You can also add spices and condiments on top of these basic flavors. These can be spicy, earthy, or even tangy, depending on your recipe. Many people say that white onions are the only ones that should be used for fajitas, while others say that any kind will do. This is exactly what we will investigate today!
It really depends on what type of flavor you want to develop when choosing the best onion. Onions come in a variety of flavors. Some are sweet, while others have savory undertones. Some even add an astringent tart flavor to the meal. At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer. Here are some tips for narrowing your choices!
1. What Is Available To You
First and foremost, determine if red shallots are available in your area. If they are not, there’s no point in choosing to use them! There is also the price factor to consider. Some onions can cost quite a bit, but ultimately, they are just onions. For onion marmalade, you can certainly splurge a bit. But for fajitas, there are many more affordable options that can work just as well as the expensive one. There is a possibility that the flavors of the other ingredients could outweigh those of the onions.
2. Flavor You Want To Create
First, see what’s available to you, then narrow down what flavor you want.
There are basically three ways to go about it:
Choosing an onion with a sweeter flavor is a good choice.
Onions with more savory flavor are better choices.
If you’re looking for a spicier onion, pick one with a slight kick.
Among the many types of sweet onions available, Vidalia and Walla Walla are the most common and affordable.
Rather than frying these onions, they are best cooked over low heat for a long time, which caramelizes the natural sugars.
You do not need to caramelize these onions completely for fajitas – we’re just explaining the principle behind why and how they work.
The sweet flavors will be released during the process of frying. It’s the perfect combination of the two!
For savory onions, yellow and white onions are hands-down the best options.
For heavily spiced fajita recipes, yellow onions have a very bold flavor that can easily stand up to the meat and seasonings.
Even though white onions tend to be milder, they still have the ability to enhance the overall flavor profile of a dish.
In order to add a little bit of spicy, tart flavor (not from chilies), red onions are the best choice.
Additionally, they’ll add color to the grilled bell peppers!
Best Onions For Fajitas
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the best onions for fajitas. Let’s find out what they are, what makes them great, and when to use them.
The choice ultimately comes down to your personal preference, as we’ve mentioned before!
1. White Onions
It’s only because white onions are primarily used to make fajitas that we have placed them right at the top.
Despite the fact that we are obsessed with savory-sweet flavor combinations, we think they are a great option for fajitas.
Adding white onions to your fajitas will give them a savory flavor profile. They have a sharp, pungent flavor and a slightly spicy undertone that many people love. They are milder than yellow onions, which is why they are preferred.
While maintaining their signature grilled onion flavor and texture, they will blend seamlessly with the accompanying elements.
Those are a great pair with chicken fajitas. They will also work with beef, but beef is already pretty savory. Chicken, on the other hand, needs some help, which is why white onions will be a great match!
Yellow onions are a good substitute for white onions.
2. Vidalia Onions
Our favorite option is arguably this one, at least, it’s the one we gravitate towards the most.
Sweet onions like Vidalia are very popular because of their high natural sugar content, which makes them very caramelized.
If you are making fajitas, you can increase the heat a little so that they will fry while still releasing their sweet flavor.
When you cannot find Vidalia onions, you can use Walla Walla onions. Both onions have a yellowish hue, with Walla Walla being whiter and rounder, and Vidalia being flatter and yellower.
Due to their popularity, both of these should be labeled in-store. At least one should be available.
We love pairing these onions with deliciously grilled steak – the sweetness pairs incredibly well with the savory charred flavors of the umami meat!
3. Yellow Onions
If your recipe does not specify which type of onion you should use, it is likely yellow onions. They are very affordable and easy to locate.
There are a few differences between yellow onions and white onions. First, yellow onions tend to be firmer and smaller in size than white onions.
In contrast with white onions, yellow onions are noticeably yellowish on the inside rather than snow-white.
Yellow onions have a very strong, savory flavor – they work best in vegetarian and chicken fajitas. Keep them away from super-savory dishes; they will be too rich.
Yellow onions can be substituted for white onions.
4. Red Onions
Today, we just need to add red onions to this list.
Firstly, they are very easy to find. Secondly, if your dish looks a bit bland, they will add a little color.
In addition, red onions are slightly spicy and tend to have a more savory flavor than white onions.
Only downside (for us) is that red onions are slightly more expensive than the other options listed above. But don’t worry, they aren’t that expensive.
In any fajita, red onions will make an amazing addition. They aren’t too savory that they will create an imbalanced umami flavor with beef fajitas, nor are they too sweet to blend in with chicken fajitas.
We’re always asked about shallots! Yes, they can be used for fajitas. They’re a little pricey and not as easy to find as other onions, but they’re worth it!
Despite their mildness, these onions have a mild garlicky flavor – which is why we love them!
As well as working great with fajitas, they will add a savory flavor to beef strips and bring out the natural flavors of chicken!
A white onion and some garlic will recreate the flavor of a shallot. White onions don’t really compare to other onions when it comes to flavor.