Is an Onion a Fruit or a Vegetable? The Great Debate Continues

When it comes to the age-old question of whether an onion is a fruit or a vegetable, opinions are as varied as the layers of an onion itself.

Some argue that it’s a vegetable, while others claim it’s a fruit. So, what’s the truth? Well, my dear readers, strap in because we’re about to peel back the layers and get to the root of this contentious issue.

An onion is a vegetable. It is a type of bulb vegetable, in the Allium genus, which also includes garlic and shallots. Botanically, the onion is the swollen underground stem that is used as a vegetable. It is not a fruit, which is the mature ovary of a flowering plant, containing seeds.

The Science of Onion Classification

Botanical Definition

According to botanists, a fruit is defined as the mature ovary of a flowering plant, containing seeds. An onion, on the other hand, is a modified stem, not a mature ovary, so it doesn’t fit the botanical definition of a fruit.

Culinary Definition

However, the culinary definition of a fruit is a bit looser. In the culinary world, fruit is any sweet or tart-tasting plant product that is used in desserts, jams, or preserves.

And, while an onion may not be sweet or tart, it can be used in many savory dishes, making it a bit of a gray area when it comes to culinary classification.

The Great Debate

The Vegetable Camp

Those who argue that an onion is a vegetable often point to its savory taste, lack of sweetness, and its use in savory dishes. They also cite its stem-like structure as evidence that it’s not a fruit.

The Fruit Camp

On the other hand, those who believe an onion is a fruit often point to its ability to produce seeds as evidence.

They also argue that the culinary definition of fruit should be used, as an onion is used in a variety of dishes, just like other fruits.


In conclusion, whether an onion is a fruit or a vegetable is a matter of perspective. From a botanical standpoint, an onion is a modified stem and thus a vegetable.

But from a culinary perspective, it can be used in a variety of dishes, just like fruits, so it could be considered a fruit. So, whether you’re slicing and dicing in the kitchen or debating with friends, just remember that when it comes to onions, the answer is not cut and dried.