Four different ways of making delicious onion salads to suit every occasion. These simple salads are easy and versatile. You can quickly perk up any dish by adding these as a salad, dip or relish. And there is an option to work for almost every cuisine out there.
Table of Contents
Easy Onion Salads
If there is any ingredient that is practically ubiquitous and part of every cuisine, then it is onions. Almost, every great dish starts with onions.
But other than using it as an ingredient to cook a dish, onions can also be used to make simple and easy salads. These can be served in a variety of ways to enhance the main course.
Here I am sharing four different onion salads - an Indian onion salad also know as laccha pyaaz, a Turkish onion relish, a sweet onion vinegar salad and a creamy onion salad.
You can serve these as a salad or relish. The creamy salad makes a great dip too. And you can pick any one of these according to the cuisine and type of dish.
- Onions: Red onions are the most popular choice for salads. If you want a milder option, try white onions. For the vinegar based salad, we use vidalia sweet onions. And for the creamy onion salad, use shallots or red onions.
- Herbs: Cilantro and mint leaves add the perfect touch for the Indian salad. And we need parsley for the Turkish and vinegar based salads.
- Oil: We use extra virgin olive oil for the sweet onion salad. The other salads can be made without using oil.
- Chili Peppers: Use this for the Indian salad - shishito or jalapeño are mild, serrano is hot. You can remove seeds to lower the heat.
- Lemon juice or lime juice: This helps lower the pungency of the onions and adds a sour taste to the salad.
- Vinegar: Any odorless white vinegar will work. It tames down the pungency of the onions and balances the hints of sweet taste.
- Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt: Use this for creamy onion salad. You can try low fat versions as well. And can also mix sour cream with yogurt.
- Cumin, chili powder and black pepper is enough to give a hint of spice to the Indian salad. Some people like adding chaat masala powder to the salad.
- For the sweet onion salad, we add a touch of cayenne pepper and black pepper.
- Celery seeds are a must for the creamy salad. You can add a touch of Dijon mustard or lemon zest as well.
- We need plenty of sumac for the Turkish onion salad, which adds a delightful tartness. Add a hint of mild heat with some Turkish style ground red pepper.
- Honey: For a touch of sweetness.
- Salt: To season, enhance and balance all the flavors.
How To Make Onion Salads
Brief overview below. **Full recipe at the end of blog post.
- Prep Vegetables: Cut onions, chili peppers and herbs and take in a salad bowl as per the recipe.
- Season: For the Indian and Turkish salads, sprinkle the spices, salt, lemon juice and combine. To make the sweet onion salad and creamy onion salad, prepare the dressing, drizzle on the onions and combine well.
Lower Pungency: To lower the sharp taste of the onions, soak the sliced onions in cold water or sprinkle lemon juice or vinegar on top. I did not soak the onions in water, so it is optional.
Slice Onions: Use a mandolin slicer for uniform cuts. Rings might look pretty, but not as practical for eating. I cut the onions into halves and then slice them.
Creamy salad: This salad tastes amazing after refrigerating it overnight so that the flavors meld together and mature to perfection.
How To Serve Onion Salad
Indian Onion Salad: You can serve this with biryani, dal palak, tandoori chicken, meat cutlets and roasted aloo gobi. This salad also works great for making kabab or tikka rolls with naans or parathas.
Turkish Onion Salad: I love to serve this with most mediterranean and middle eastern dishes such as shawarma, lentil rice and stuffed meatball stew. It is perfect with grilled salmon, lamb chops or chicken koftas. Add a glass of Ayran for a beverage.
Sweet Onion Vinegar Salad: I find this to be a quick and easy accompaniment for my American and European style main courses such as easy bean stew and roasted goose. It works great in wraps and sandwiches too.
Creamy Onion Salad: This one is great for a dip or a sandwich spread. So try it with fried fish fillet, roasted chicken, burgers and more. Also, use this to make potato salad, egg salad or tuna salad.
These salads are vegetarian, low carb, gluten free, nut free, egg free and soy free. But below are a few ideas, some of which I have not tried.
- Low Sodium: Reduce the amount of salt and increase the herbs, spices and lemon or lime juice.
- Vegan/Dairy free: Use dairy free sour cream or yogurt. And maple syrup instead of honey.
- Flavor twist:
- Indian Salad - add pomegranate arils to the salad.
- Turkish Salad - Add some pomegranate molasses or honey for a sweet touch. You can add some olive oil and/or lemon juice to the salad, but this is not typical.
- Vinegar Based - Use 1 to 2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard for the dressing.
- Creamy Style - Add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard or grated lemon zest to the dressing.
It is best to slice onions fresh. But you can cut them a day ahead. Be sure to store in airtight containers in the refrigerator. You could also store different types of onions in small sandwich bags.
Turkish and Indian versions are best eaten fresh. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for no more than couple days. These salads are not freezer friendly.
The vinegar based and creamy salads will keep for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge. But do not freeze them.
Red onions are the popular choice for making salads as they are very flavorful. However, certain type of onions work better for specific salads. For example, sweet vidalia onions are the best choice for the ‘sweet onion vinegar salad’ we made here. On the other hand, choose white onions when you want a milder flavor.
Soak sliced onions in cold water for 20 to 30 minutes, drain the water and pat the onions dry before using. Another option would be to sprinkle some vinegar on cut onions. Both methods will reduce the sharp taste of onions.
Rinse peeled and cut onion halves, making sure to rinse the cut side very well. This will make it easier to work with the onions, as it reduces the compounds that cause the burning sensation in the eyes.
Red and yellow onions have higher amounts of antioxidants than white onions. In particular, red onions contain anthocyanins, the plant flavonoids that impart the deep color and may protect against certain type of cancers, heart disease and diabetes.
These salads are wholesome and nourishing. The main ingredient used here are onions, which are low in calories, high in vitamin C, and a good source of fiber, vitamin B 6, manganese, and quercetin - a potent antioxidant.
Onions are also rich sources of flavonoids and organosulfur compounds which are credited with a range of health effects. Those include anti-carcinogenic properties, anti-thrombotic activity, anti-platelet activity, anti-asthmatic and antibiotic effects.
More Recipes With Onions
- Musakhan (Sumac onion chicken flatbread)
- Heathy Mac and Cheese (with French onion twist)
- Onion Bread Rolls (2 Ways)
- Kabob Koobideh (onions add a characteristic flavor to these kabobs made with minimal ingredients)
★ DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? PLEASE COMMENT AND GIVE IT A STAR RATING BELOW!
Onion Salad Recipes (Four Ways)
Indian Onion Salad
- 2 large red onions cut into halves and sliced
- 1 chili pepper chopped, shishito or jalapeño for mild, serrano for hot, de-seed to remove heat
- 3 sprigs cilantro chopped
- 1 sprig mint leaves chopped
- 1 lime for juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder or cayenne pepper, paprika for mild
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin or ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Turkish Onion Salad
Sweet Onion Vinegar Salad
Indian Onion Salad
- In a medium mixing bowl, take the sliced red onions, chopped chili peppers and herbs. Squeeze the juice of one lime and sprinkle salt, chili powder, ground cumin and ground black pepper. Combine all the ingredients very well.
Turkish Onion Relish
- Take sliced onions in a mixing bowl and sprinkle salt on top. With the help of a flat rubber spatula press on the onions gently to release some juices (or use your fingers with food safe gloves on). Add sumac, red pepper flakes, parsley and combine very well.
Sweet Onion Vinegar Salad
- In a mixing bowl whisk together vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper, until thick and emulsified. Add finely sliced Vidalia onions. Combine very well, top with chopped parsley and refrigerate.
Creamy Onion Salad
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, salt, pepper, celery seeds and sour cream. Add finely chopped onions or shallots and grated garlic. Combine very well and refrigerate overnight for the flavors to meld together.
- Lower Pungency: To lower the sharp taste of onions, soak the sliced onions in cold water or sprinkle lemon juice or vinegar on top. I did not soak the onions in water, so this is optional.
- Slice Onions: Use a mandolin slicer for uniform cuts. Rings might look pretty, but not practical for eating. I cut the onions into halves and then slice them.
- Meal Prep: It is best to slice onions fresh. But you can cut them a day ahead. Be sure to store in airtight containers in the refrigerator. You could even store different types of onions in small sandwich bags.
- Storage: Turkish and Indian onion salads are best eaten fresh. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for couple days. The vinegar based and creamy salads will keep for about 3 to 4 days in the fridge. These salads are not freezer friendly.
- Nutrition facts based on the Indian onion salad only.
- For other variations, ingredient notes, recipe FAQs and serving suggestions, scroll up the page to the blog post.