Vidalia Vs Walla Walla Sweet Onions

Vidalia onions might brag about being America’s favorite, but they are actually the new kid on the block when it comes to sweet onions. Vidalias were discovered by accident when a farmer in Georgia planted the wrong seeds in the 1930s, long after the true OG of sweet onions, the Walla Walla sweet. 

Out West, the Walla Walla onion has a much longer history – tracing its roots all the way back to the late 1800s, and some onion seeds brought to America by a French soldier, and cultivated by the farmers of central Washington 

This brings us to the burning question East Coast vs West Coast, Walla Walla vs Vidalia, which sweet onion reigns supreme?

What makes an onion sweet?

First we need to take a moment to consider what makes sweet onions sweet.

Onions like Vidalias and Walla Wallas, have naturally lower levels of sulfur compounds compared to regular onions. These sulfur compounds are what cause the sharp, pungent flavor and make your eyes water and your tongue tingle. With less of these compounds, sweet onions taste milder and, as the name suggests, sweeter!

Part of this sweetness comes from the genetics of the variety being grown, but the soil and climate they are grown in contributes as well. 

The Main Event: Vidalia vs. Walla Walla

<Ringside Bell Rings>

Get ready for a flavor rumble! 

In the East Coast corner, we have the reigning champ, the Vidalia onion. This Georgia native is known for its bold start and sweet finish. It’s the onion that claims to be America’s favorite, but can it hold its own?

And in the West Coast corner, the challenger: the Walla Walla onion. With roots in Europe and a milder, all-around sweetness, this onion is ready to take the crown.

Only one can be declared the ultimate sweet onion. Let the showdown begin!

Vidalia sweet onions

Vidalia Onions: Georgia’s Sweet Surprise

America might love the Vidalia and they make some bold claims, but this onion is a relative newcomer to the sweet onion world.  Its deliciousness was a total fluke, discovered by a Georgia farmer in the 1930s who accidentally planted the wrong kind of onion.  

His mistake turned into a happy surprise when he found that people loved his new sweet onions, and during hard times even paid more for his onions. Now 12,000 acres of Vidalias are grown annually in the 13 counties designated as Vidalia onion territory by the Georgia General Assembly.

What makes Vidalia onions special:

  • Flavor Profile: Think of the Vidalia as the onion with a personality twist. It starts off with a classic oniony punch, then mellows out into a lingering sweetness.
  • Appearance: You can spot a Vidalia by its slightly flattened shape and sunny yellow skin.
  • Seasonality: Vidalias are a summertime treat, gracing kitchens from April through August.
Walla Walla sweet onions

Walla Walla Onions:  The Old World Underdog

While the Vidalia might be a Georgia sweetheart, the Walla Walla onion boasts a much longer and more adventurous history. 

The Walla Walla onion’s rise to prominence, began in the late 1800s, when a French soldier carried a special onion seed all the way from the island of Corsica to Washington state. There, his neighbors took note of the winter hardiness of the new onion and started cultivating it. 

Now, Walla Walla sweet onions are produced on just 400 acres of the PNW. They are truly America’s bespoke onion, hand harvested every spring. 

What makes Walla Walla Sweet Onions special. 

  • Flavor Profile: The Walla Walla is all about sweetness and subtlety. It’s a milder onion, with a gentle sweetness right from the first bite.
  • Walla Walla Sweets are so smooth some people eat them raw like an apple. 
  • Appearance: Large and round with a papery white skin, the Walla Walla has a distinct look.
  • Seasonality: This sweet onion has a shorter season than the Vidalia, available from June to August.

Sweet Onion Recipes

Both Vidalia and Walla Walla sweet onion will work, but each has its own special flavor profile, lending them to be best in certain recipes. Here are a few recipes that highlight these two onion’s best features. 

Vidalia Onion Recipes:

Roasted Vidalia Onions With Parmesan

Vidalia onions transform into a sweet and savory delight when roasted. Sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, they become a simple yet elegant side dish perfect for any occasion.

Recipe via: Kalyn’s Kitchen

Roasted Vidalia Onion Rings

Elevate your deep fried onion ring game with some Vidalia onions. These will blow your friends away, provided you actually share them with them.

Recipe via: Charlotte Fashion Plate

vidalia sweet onion pie

Vidalia Onion Pie

The recipe says pie, but really this is more of a sweet onion quiche. Whatever you want to call it, the sweetness of the onions shine in this recipe

Recipe via: The Black Pepper Corn

Walla Walla Sweet Onion Recipes:

Walla Walla Onion And Feta Salad

A bold salad that is nothing of what you expect. A summertime treat, this sweet onion and feta salad is sure to be a hit

Recipe via: Just A Pinch

Caramelized Walla Walla Onion Dip

Easy to make and ready in a flash, this sweet onion dip will have your friends raving the next time you have them over for a game or party!

Recipe via: Metropolitan Market

Walla Walla Sweet Onion and Watermelon Salad

Two of the most iconic flavors of summer, sweet onions and watermelon make this a super refreshing salad for your summertime parties.

Recipe via: Oregon Live

Who Is The Winner In This Showdown?

The reality is that in the contest between Vidalias and Walla Walla Sweet Onions I have to call this one a draw, but really, we are the winners. Each onion has its special place in our culinary palette that you should explore. Here is how you can best make use of these two American treasures. 

Vidalia Onions: Best For…

  • Long Slow Caramelizing: The Vidalia’s initial oniony punch followed by a burst of sweetness makes it a star for caramelized onions. They add complexity to French onion soup, dips, pasta sauces, or as a simple but delicious topping for burgers.
  • Onion Rings and Fritters: The Vidalia’s natural sweetness shines when battered and deep-fried. The slight onion flavor creates a delightful balance.
  • Long, Slow Cooking: In stews or roasts, Vidalias break down beautifully, adding depth and subtle sweetness over time.

Walla Walla Onions: Best For…

  • Eating Raw: The Walla Walla’s mildness and delicate sweetness are perfect for showcasing raw in salads, salsas, and sandwiches. Think onion rings on a burger without the overpowering flavor.
  • Quick Sautés: Since they are already so sweet, Walla Walla onions caramelize quickly. Toss them into stir-fries, fajitas, or omelets.
  • Grilling: The high sugar content makes Walla Walla onions excellent for grilling. They caramelize beautifully, adding a sweet-and-savory depth to grilled

Whichever onion you choose, you are in for a flavor treat over a typical red or yellow onion. This summer, track down one of these two iconic onions and give them a try!

Share This Page

Table of Contents