Shallots are a type of onion that is called for often in culinary dishes. The shallot can add flavor and sweetness to your meal but can be challenging to find. This small, bulbous root vegetable is an ingredient often called for in French cooking.
Shallots can be substituted with a variety of vegetables. Other varieties of onions and garlic are a great place to start, but your options are not limited. Shallots can be substituted with red onions, yellow or white onions, green onions (scallions), leeks, sweet onions, garlic, chives, radish, or celery. Choose a substitute that works for your recipe. Have no fear, your shallot substitute will not completely alter your meal.
Shallots can be a challenge to source, but the following substitutions can help alleviate any cooking stress. The shelf life of shallots is quite long. Feel free to buy a bag anytime you see them in your local grocery store and use them in place of standard onions.
What Do Shallots Taste Like?
Shallots are a flavor-heavy cousin of the onion with a lot fewer tears. These vegetables are great for sauces, stews, and reductions.
Taste: Shallots taste similar to that of a standard yellow or white onion. Shallots are milder in taste and have a hint of sweetness. These vegetables can serve as toppings and are often cooked into sauces and meals.
Texture: Shallots have a layered appearance that is crisp and sharp when raw. As they are cooked, they will soften and infuse their sweetness into your meal. These vegetables can pair well with a low and slow-cooked meal or add punch in a quick stir fry.
Preparation: An entire shallot is made up of several smaller bulbs. Separate the bulbs, peel the skin away, and cut to your desired size. Many recipes require a minced shallot which is no different than mincing other varieties of onions.
9 Shallot Substitutes To For Your Recipes
Shallots require work to peel and dice, but you and your guests will be happy you put in the time and effort. If their flavor or availability is a problem, opt for any of the following substitutes in your recipe.
The onion family is a diverse group of foods that packs a great deal of flavor. The Red onion can take the place of shallots in your recipe. The red onion is a medium to a large-sized onion. Be sure to peel away the outer layers to expose the vibrant reds and whites inside.
The red onion flavor is overpowered by its tart and pungent scents. It is a firm, layered onion that pairs well with red meats, chicken, salsas, dips, and as toppings on your favorite salad. The red onion can overpower a meal. The red onion should be used cautiously. Be sure to sample your meal as you replace shallots with red onions.
Yellow or White Onion
Yellow and white onions are the most common onion. Many families do (and rightfully so) and should keep these vegetables stocked in their homes at all times. If your recipe calls for shallots and you do not have them, this common household staple is a perfect option.
Yellow onions are sweeter than white onions and can be cooked in almost any dish. White onions are slightly more bitter and tart in their taste. Either onion can easily replace shallots in your dish. Be sure to peel away any out layers that are beginning to brown or go soft. The innermost portion of the yellow and white onions will contain the most flavor.
Green Onion (Scallions)
Scallions are an easily sourced milder option. They are similar in taste and texture to that of a shallot. While much smaller than a shallot or standard yellow onion, this onion has a firm whitish base that is onion-like, but both the white and green sections can be used for your dish.
Scallions are often used as toppings. They are best added to dishes late in the cooking process. Overcooking these vegetables will essentially remorse their taste and texture. To obtain the flavor required for your dish, be sure to add plenty of scallions and sample your recipe as you cook.
Leeks are another member of the onion family that can replace shallots in your dish. Leeks have a bulbous base and a long white or green stalk. In their raw form, leeks have a firm and distinct crunch. Their texture is somewhere between that of an onion and celery.
Leeks pair well in soups and sauces and their mild flavor and aroma make them a versatile option when removing shallots from your recipes. Leeks must be washed thoroughly before use as they are grown in sandy soils. Their green tops can also serve as a base for soup stocks.
Sweet onions are favorites of many as they lack the pungent flavors of their other onion relatives. The most common sweet onion varieties include Walla Walla, Vidalia, and Maui. These onions are great in a variety of meat and vegetable-based dishes. The sugar content of these vegetables makes them a perfect option for caramelizing.
Sweet onions are similar in texture and appearance to yellow, white, and red onions. Additionally, the only big difference between them and shallots is their larger size. Consider these onions if you desire a taste and texture close to that of a shallot.
While a close relative, garlic does not taste like an onion, but they are present in many home chef’s kitchens. Look to swap out your shallots with garlic if you need a pungent garlicky flavor that will not ruin the recipe. Garlic is a potent ingredient; replace each bulb of shallot with one clove of garlic. If you have prepared garlic, that can be used as well, but be sure to read the serving sizes and sample your recipe as you make changes.
Garlic can be added at the beginning of your cooking process for a milder flavor. Opt to add it towards the end if you desire a strong garlic flavor in your dish.
Chives are yet another close relative to shallots. Chives can be used as an ingredient, but are often used to garnish dishes. Their flavor is mild and mostly used as an herb. They can be found, year-round, fresh, or dried. Opt for fresh chives when possible. Their flavor will not be the same as a shallot but can replace them in a pinch.
Radishes are edible root vegetables. Their texture is firm with a sharp earthy flavor. They can add the same crunch as shallots to your recipe. Even when cooked down or simmered, radishes will not lose their crunch and mouthfeel.
For recipes that require raw shallots, radishes are a great alternative for their sharp flavor and texture.
Celery is a common stalk vegetable that pairs well with sauces, marinades, and braising. The fibrous texture of celery can mimic the same crunch of a shallot. Be sure to dice celery the same size as your shallots and add them to your recipe at the same time you would add your shallots. Celery can replace shallots in stews, soups, and sauces.
How To Use Shallots In Your Recipes
Shallots can be used in a variety of ways and each way will infuse a burst of flavor and sweetness into your dishes. Do not be intimidated by shallots; it is often harder to source your shallots than it is to cook with them.
Whole: Some recipes may require that the entire shallots (peeled or not), be roasted or cooked. This form of cooking may work for low and slow-cooked meals.
Diced: Finely diced shallots are often called for in recipes. Be sure to remove all peels and outer layers, finely chop, and add at any point in the meal preparation. Diced shallots work well in stir-fries and single-pan dishes. Opt for a coarser chop for slower cooking options.
Sliced: Sliced shallots can be fried or caramelized as part of your recipe or added as a topping or garnish.
Shallots can be an underrated ingredient that gets overlooked in the grocery store. Replace any onion in a recipe with shallot and you can change your recipe. If you do not have a shallot in a bind, many of the above options are readily available in home kitchens.