I just moved to the UK from the USA, where we had access to all sorts of onions (being in Texas): yellow onions, green onions, shallots, red onions, white onions, sweet onions, etc.

We bought a bag of onions from a store here and they were simply labeled "British Onions."

They are bigger than shallots, but definitely smaller than the onions we used to get from Mexico. They look yellow on the outside and are greenish/white on the inside, but they are not sweet - they are rather bitter ;)

Is this just a brand of a sweet onion that is grown in the UK?

Further, are these equivalent to an "English Onion," which I've seen online when searching this query?


  • 1
    Note that they're very much not the same thing as Welsh Onions, which aren't even Welsh (and if you wanted Welsh Onions you'd have to grow them yourself - I have)
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 14:36
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    But those "English Onions" you link are a further-localised version of what @GdD describes and I whinge about below
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 14:37
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    In a 'decent' sized supermarket in the UK you should be able to get red-onion and shallots too, but thats about the limit of what typically is on offer (apart from size, organic status, named brand, etc.) EDIT: Unless you include spring/salad onion, which I believe are known as scallions in the USA. Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 14:51
  • @NeilTarrant I sometimes see white onions (sold as "sweet onions") in Sainsbury's, but I've never bought them
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 15:26
  • 1
    You mean The Daily Mash? (Get it? British version of The Onion? Ha ha... I'll see myself out ..) Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 22:13

1 Answer 1


"British Onion" on the packaging isn't describing a type of onion, but advertising that the onions were grown in Britain (which is a common strategy to make produce more appealing in British supermarkets).

The variety of onion is the 'default' onion in the UK, often known as a brown onion to distinguish from other types, but apparently also called a yellow onion. The Wikipedia article describes the variety: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_onion

Supermarkets will sometimes have a variety of sizes available, and the flavour may differ a little by time of year, size, ripeness etc. I'm sure you'll find this is not the only natural product that tastes different to what you're used to.

  • 6
    Get used to the deluge of British this and British that in the UK. British strawberries, British beef! It's gotten a bit OTT in my opinion.
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 14:18
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    @GdD the problem is that that large proud labelling appeals to (or is meant to appeal to) several groups: those who are concerned about the environmental impact of transporting food, those who believe that closer to home always means better quality, and those who get excited by the sight of their flag or nationality. That covers many of the population, certainly most of the political landscape, so I doubt it's going to go away.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 14:34
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    @ChrisH Or just want to support domestic producers.
    – Spagirl
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 14:38
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    @Spagirl that too. Those people would go well with the middle group (quality) rather than the more political groupings I mention to indicate the breadth of the target audience
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 14:40
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    Interesting. I think my whole life I have referred to this as a “white onion”, simply because I’ve never encountered a true white onion.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 7:14

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