Good Question: Suggestions for Cooking Without Onions?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Help! We all know the best way to a man’s (and woman’s) heart is through the stomach. I started dating someone who’s system doesn’t tolerate onions, garlic, shallots, cilantro, etc. very well.

Over 90% of my cooking repertoire contains at least one of those key ingredients! What can I cook for him?

Pasta is on this week’s menu, but I’m already having to alter my sauce recipe fairly significantly so that he can eat it.


Good – and tough – question, Ginger! We can’t imagine a life without alliums, and we’re sympathetic to anyone who has to. Still, this might be a great opportunity for some culinary creativity! Here are some of our thoughts:

If your date is merely sensitive and not actually allergic to onions and their ilk, we wonder if a different cooking method might do the trick. Techniques like caramelizing onions and slow-roasting the garlic neutralize the harsh compounds in alliums, most often rendering them sweet and succulent. He might also be able to handle milder alliums like leeks.

If using onions, garlic, etc. is completely out, turn your attention to other ingredients. Celery and carrots are the other two ingredients in a chef’s mirepoix flavor base, and these vegetables can build a lot of flavor in your dish even without onions. Cooking with broth, wine, and other liquids instead of water will also give your dish added body and flavor. Play around with the spices and aromatics in your favorite recipes to see what other flavors you can bring out.

Since onions are key for layered dishes like braises and sauces, you might also think about simpler preparations with fewer ingredients and meals with multiple side dishes, like stuffed chicken breast with mashed potatoes and a salad.

Hopefully this at least gives you somewhere to start! Anyone else have suggestions for Ginger?

(Image: Onion Set by Chris Burrows, available for $39.99 from

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