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Onions along with shallots, leeks, chives and garlic, belong to the Allium family, which including wild varieties has some 325 members. All have the characteristic onion smell, which is caused by volatile acids just below the skin. Onions have been eaten for thousands of years. They are believed to have originally come from the Middle East and their easy cultivation suggests that their use spread quickly. By the Middle Ages onions were a common vegetable throughout Europe and would have been used in soups, stews and sauces when strong flavouring was preferred.

There are many classic recipes specifically for onion dishes so they can be appreciated in their own right. But there is hardly a recipe where onions, or Alliums, are not used. Gently fried until soft, or fried more fiercely until golden, they add a unique, savoury flavour to dishes. Raw onions are a useful source of fibre, Vitamin C and folic acid.

Areas Grown: Most areas throughout Ireland. Spring onions are mainly grown in Dublin, Cork coastal areas.

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