Sweet and Mild: What’s the Deal with Cipollini Onions?

We’ve been seeing more and more of these little guys recently and we couldn’t be happier. Cipollini onions (pronounced chip-oh-lee-knee) were once a rare treat only to be found at fancy restaurants and the occasional gourmet market. We’re glad they’re finally getting their due attention...Now what exactly are they?

Their name literally means “little onion” in Italian, and indeed they are! Cipollinis are about the size of a golf ball with a slightly flattened appearance. They’re thin-skinned and have translucent white flesh with more residual sugar than your average yellow or white onion.

Which makes them incredible for roasting or caramelizing. Roasted whole in the oven or cooked in a little butter on the stove top, cipollinis become soft and practically melt in your mouth. Those residual sugars caramelize and concentrate, leaving behind none of the astringent raw onion flavor.

Seriously, you haven’t had caramelized onions until you’ve made them with cipollini onions. Even you onion-haters out there might be swayed!

The only downside to cipollinis is getting that thin skin off. We usually use a paring knife to pull off strips from root to stem. You can also boil the onions for a few seconds to loosen the skin. It’s a pain, but definitely worth it for the sweet onions beneath.

Here are a few recipes to try:

Cipollini and Mushroom Tart from the Kitchn
Roasted Cipollini Onions from White on Rice
Potato Salad with Cipollini Onions, Olives, and Fennel from Martha Stewart

How do you use cipollinis in your cooking?

Related: Raw to Sweet: How to Change the Intensity of Onions

(Image: Emma Christensen)

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