Shallot is one of the members of Allium Genus. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisines and also some French dishes. Shallot can be a great addition to sauces and vinaigrette . Or, slice it thinly and fry it to make a simple topping for your Thai curry noodles.
If you love cooking Asian dishes, you probably are familiar with shallots. However, sometimes shallots aren’t present in the pantry. That’s normal since this ingredient is not an absolute-have in the modern American cuisines.
So, what can you use instead of shallots?
There are several ingredients that you can use as shallot substitutes like yellow onion and the red onion. However, keep in mind that these ingredients can replace shallots when the recipe only needs very small amount of shallots e.g. “2 tsp of minced shallots”.
If the recipe has “shallot” word in the title or when the recipe needs a huge amount of shallot as its main ingredient it’s pretty risky to replace shallot with something else so, you probably want to save that awesome recipe for later.
Now, if your recipe does only need a pinch of shallots and you want to find the substitute, consider these ideas below!
Yellow Onion (Cooked Substitute)
Yellow onion is considered to be the best substitute for shallot, although they don’t exactly taste the same.
Raw yellow onion has strong flavor when it’s raw but it can change into deeply sweet when it’s cooked. Caramelized yellow onion tastes great! So, if you recipe calls for shallots to be cooked, you can try replacing it with yellow onion.
Keep in mind that yellow onion is so much BIGGER than a shallot. 1 yellow onion equals to 3-4 shallots. So, if your recipe calls for 3 shallots, you can use 1 small onion instead.
Oh, and since yellow onion doesn’t taste garlicky like shallot does, you can add a little amount as garlic beside the yellow onion. The sweet yellow onion + the real garlic can mimic the taste of shallot. After all, shallot is somehow tastes like the “baby” of yellow onion X garlic.
When substituting shallots with yellow onions, one small onion is the same as three shallots. You can use a one-to-one ratio and then play it by ear after that. That means taste and see if it’s working for your recipe or if you will need to add more as you progress. To bring the flavor of yellow onion closer to shallots, you may have to add some garlic to your recipe.
Red Onion (Raw Substitute)
Red onion and shallots have similar appearance, except that red onion is bigger and rounder than shallots.
You can use red onion as a shallot substitute, again when the recipe only calls for a small amount of it and when the recipe needs shallot as a raw ingredient, for example when the shallots is needed for garnish or salad.
Replacing cooked shallot with cooked red onion is not the best idea because when red onion is cooked it can change the cuisine color, and this is not always pleasant to see. So, red onion can be a good replacement for shallot when it’s raw.
Although these ingredients look similar and comes from the same family, red onion has a stronger taste, especially when it’s raw. Therefore, before using it to replace raw shallots, consider soaking it in a cold water for a few minutes to reduce the spicy taste of the onion.
White Onion (Raw or Cooked)
White onion has a milder and sweeter flavor than yellow onion, somehow it feels “cleaner” than yellow onion. It has crispy texture so you can use it in guacamole or salsa.
If you want to use white onion to replace the cooked shallot, don’t forget to add minced garlic or garlic powder into the recipe to help replace that little garlic flavor that is normally found in shallot.
Leek (Cooked Substitute)
Leek has a delicate flavor with a hint of garlic. So, you can use it as a shallot substitute without adding garlic.
Remember to use the middle part of the leek, where the stalk has the gradient of white to green (do not include the white end).
Leek and shallot does have similar taste, but they have different cooking time. Leek cooks faster than shallot. It means that you might want to add the leek later in your cooking process to avoid overcooking it.
4 Shallot Substitutes | Easy Alternatives
yellow onion (cooked)
red onion (raw)
white onion (cooked or raw)
- Check your recipe, does it need the shallot to be cooked or served raw?
- If you need raw substitute of shallot, use red onion or white onion. If you need cooked subsitute, use yellow onion, white onion, or leek.
- Use the substitute to replace shallot in the recipe. Mind the size and amount.
- If you use onion, don’t forget to add garlic powder or minced garlic to help mimic the taste of shallot.
- Taste the cuisine during the cooking process to make sure that you get the similar taste of shallot.
- Continue cooking and serve your dish.