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What Is Sweet Onion Dressing?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 16, 2024
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Sweet onion dressing is a type of salad dressing made with sweet onions. A tangy alternative to more traditional salad toppings, sweet onion dressing can add a zing to almost any type of salad. Versions may also be used as marinades or sauces for sandwiches or other dishes. Although not a staple salad dressing flavor, sweet onion dressing can generally be found commercially under various brands. It can also be fairly quickly made at home.

Vidalia onions are most often used for sweet onion dressing, but any type of sweet onion can be used. The onions are often microwaved, broiled, or grilled before being added to the dressing, but they may also be included raw. When cooked beforehand, they are usually peeled and cooked whole. Afterward, they can be finely chopped. If they are included raw, they are normally grated before being added to the dressing.

Additional ingredients generally included sugar and apple cider or white wine vinegar. Olive oil, usually extra virgin because of its superior taste, is also necessary for this dressing. Although dry mustard is usually added to sweet onion dressing, some versions may add Dijon mustard instead. Other flavorings, such as garlic, parsley, celery seed, and black pepper may be included as well.

Sweet onion dressing can be made in two general ways. In the first alternative, the ingredients are added to a food processor and pureed. The onions may be left raw or briefly cooked before being added, but they are normally the only ingredient which is cooked when using this method. In the second method, all the ingredients are heated in a saucepan until the sugar is completely dissolved in the mixture. Afterward, the dressing can be chilled or served warm.

Although sweet onion dressing is a flavorful addition to salads, it can also be used in marinades, particularly with chicken, or as a sauce for other dishes. Versions of sweet onion dressing, also referred to as sweet onion sauce, are used in submarine sandwiches and other dishes both commercially and at home. The commercial versions may alter the usual ingredients by adding corn syrup and additional types of vinegar, such as red wine and balsamic. Lemon juice and poppy seeds may also be included in the sauce.

Generally meat-based sandwiches work best with sweet onion dressing. Chicken sandwiches particularly benefit from the flavoring. Teriyaki sauce may also compliment the dressing choice, providing a flavorful contrast to the sweet onion taste.

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Discussion Comments
By candyquilt — On Jun 30, 2013

@MikeMason-- I just use half of a fresh red onion and put it through the blender. I think it tastes fine with fresh onion, it's more tangy.

By donasmrs — On Jun 30, 2013

@MikeMason-- If possible, use grilled onions. The dressing tastes so much better that way in my opinion. It gives it a smoked flavor and is great for sandwiches.

I always use grilled onions and I tend to go easy on the sugar because I don't want a dressing that is very sweet. Of course, it's a personal preference.

The type of vinegar and oil to use is also your choice. I prefer virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. I add black mustard seeds when I'm using the dressing for salad because it gives the dressing a nice look and texture. You should experiment with a few different sweet onion dressing recipes and see what you like best.

By stoneMason — On Jun 29, 2013

We're having a get together at home next weekend and there will be sandwiches, salads and finger foods. I want to make sweet onion dressing along with a few other dressings for people to add to their sandwich or salad. I think it will be delicious.

Should I use cooked or raw onions?

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