Shallots are a part of the allium family of plants, which also includes garlic, onions, leeks, and chives (
These small bulbs are favored for their delicate, slightly sweet flavor and are commonly used in recipes such as pasta dishes, meat dishes, savory baked goods, and soups.
Although shallots are a staple in kitchens around the world, they may be hard to find in certain areas. But no need to worry — if you run out of shallots or can’t find them in your local stores, there are several substitutes you can use in a pinch.
That being said, if shallots are a large part of a dish or a recipe calls for many of them, it may be best to save the recipe for another time when you have shallots on hand.
Here are 8 tasty substitutes for shallots.
According to many chefs, yellow onions are one of the best substitutes for shallots. They’re not too sweet or too sharp and boast a similar taste.
Yellow onions are highly nutritious, providing fiber, vitamin C, potassium, and several other nutrients. Plus, they contain plant compounds such as flavonoids that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities (
Research shows that people who regularly consume onions have a lower risk of certain health conditions, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and some cancers (
You can find yellow onions in most grocery stores. Use them in a 1:1 ratio in recipes that call for shallots. They work well either raw or cooked.
Alternatively, try another recipe that calls for yellow onions instead of shallots, such as:
- whole roasted onions
- pickled beets and onion
- freekeh with roasted butternut squash, seared kale, and caramelized onion jam
- Instant Pot French onion soup
Chives are flowering plants related to onions. Like shallots, they have a mild and not too spicy taste, so they make a good stand-in in many recipes.
The small white bulbs and the green stalks, called scapes, are commonly chopped and used fresh as a garnish for dishes such as soups, mashed potatoes, and omelets.
If a recipe calls for fresh chopped shallots, you can use chopped chives instead. However, keep in mind that chives have a different texture than shallots and that cooking them may deplete their mild flavor.
Nevertheless, you can use chives to bring a kick of flavor to dishes such as:
- lettuce, chicken, and cherry salad with creamy horseradish dressing
- mushroom omelet
- olive oil mashed potatoes
Garlic is a nutritious ingredient that can be used as a substitute for shallots in some recipes.
Also a member of the allium family, garlic has been linked to a number of health benefits. For example, garlic intake has been linked to a reduced risk of certain cancers, metabolic diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and more (
Raw garlic has a potent and spicy flavor, while roasted garlic takes on a sweeter, richer note. For that reason, pay attention to whether your recipe calls for raw or cooked shallot and treat the garlic similarly.
Also, keep in mind that although adding a clove or two of chopped garlic in place of shallots will bring flavor to your dish, it won’t mimic the exact taste.
Here are a few garlic-centric dishes to try if you happen to have garlic on hand but not shallots:
- lemon baked salmon with garlic dill sauce
- Tuscan garlic shrimp
- Spanish garlic soup
Leeks are related to shallots and have a similar flavor profile. They’re milder than onions, featuring a slightly sweet taste similar to that of cooked shallots.
They’re high in nutrients such as vitamins C and K1, provitamin A, and manganese. Leeks also provide antioxidant plant compounds — including flavonoids such as kaempferol and quercetin — that may help protect against heart disease (
You can add leeks to dishes such as pasta, soups, and stews, using them in the same way as shallots. Although most people prefer to use just the white and light green onionlike parts, you can add the tougher green tops to soups and stocks to build flavor.
To use leeks as a shallot substitute, thinly slice and rinse them. Then, prepare them as you would shallots.
If you have leeks in your kitchen but not shallots, try one of these dishes:
- potato leek soup
- braised chicken with mushrooms and leeks
- mushroom and leek risotto
- spring frittata with leeks, asparagus, and sweet potato
Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow from garlic bulbs. They have a milder, sweeter taste than the bulbs.
As with shallots, you can use them raw or cooked. Still, keep in mind that they have a different texture and taste.
Regardless, adding garlic scapes to a recipe that calls for shallots can give your dish a deep flavor that resembles a mix of onion, scallions, and garlic.
Try using garlic scapes in the following ways:
- Chop and use raw to garnish grain-based dishes.
- Add to omelets and scrambled eggs.
- Finely mince and add to homemade salad dressings.
- Sauté and add to pasta dishes.
Although many people consider yellow onions the best substitute for shallots, you can also use red onions. However, they’re a bit more potent than yellow onions and have a sharper taste.
Red onions can be used as a stand-in for either raw or cooked shallots. Because their flavor is spicier, consider using a smaller amount of red onion than you would shallots in a recipe.
Red onions contain anthocyanins, which are plant pigments that give the onions their deep purple color. Studies show that anthocyanin-rich foods may help protect against conditions such as heart and neurodegenerative diseases (
Still, if a recipe calls for a large amount of shallots and you have only red onions on hand, consider trying out one of these red onion dishes instead:
- caramelized broccoli and red onion pizza
- chicken breast sauteed in sweet red onion and lemon
- easy avocado tomato salad
When in a pinch, you can use dried onions to add a flavor similar to that of shallots. However, know that dried onions won’t mimic the texture or exact taste of shallots.
What’s more, dried onions pack a more concentrated flavor, so it’s best to use much smaller quantities. For example, if a recipe calls for 1/3 cup (53 grams) of chopped shallots, use just 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of dried onions in its place.
You can also add a bit of garlic powder to dried onions to provide a bit more flavor in recipes that call for shallots.
Dried onions are versatile. Try adding them to:
- chicken soup
- slow-cooked beef and carrot stew
- barbecue and onion powder-rubbed steak
- sour cream and onion dip
- Italian salad vinaigrette
Scallions, also known as green onions, are in the same family as shallots. You can use them as a shallot substitute in some recipes.
Scallions are young onions that are harvested before the base matures into a bulb. You can eat the entire scallion plant, including the green tops and the white bottoms.
They have a mild taste. The white part of the plant has a slightly sweet onionlike flavor that resembles the flavor of a shallot. The top part also has an onionlike flavor, though it’s milder with grassy notes.
Like shallots, scallions can be enjoyed both raw and cooked.
Use chopped scallions raw as a garnish or incorporate them into dishes such as:
- Chinese scallion pancakes
- broiled salmon with scallions and sesame seeds
- ginger and scallion chicken soup
If you’re planning to cook a recipe that calls for shallots but you have run out, no need to worry. There are a handful of ingredients you can use instead.
Onions, leeks, garlic, scallions, garlic scapes, and chives all have a similar flavor to shallots and work as replacements in different recipes. Keep in mind, though, that the texture and taste of these stand-ins won’t exactly match those of shallots.
If a recipe calls for a large amount of shallots but you have none on hand, consider trying out another recipe with the substitute ingredients listed in this article instead.
Just one thing
Try this today: Garlic and onions — including shallots — bring rich flavor to dishes. Plus, they provide impressive health benefits. Try eating more of these vegetables by using them in dishes such as scrambled eggs, salads, soups, and homemade salad dressings.