Shallot Cooking Tips and Equivalents

A Mild Onion with Garlic Qualities

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A member of the onion family, the shallot actually tastes like onion and garlic had a sweet, mild-flavored baby. Often confused with scallions, shallots are quite different. The shallot is an oblong-shaped bulb with copper-colored papery skin. Underneath you will find purple-tinted flesh divided into garlic-like cloves, which is ideal when a recipe calls for just a small amount of onion or shallot--you can pull away one clove and keep the rest for a later use.

Featured in French cooking, the shallot can get the reputation of being a fancy aromatic but it is readily available, easy to use and delicious in a variety of recipes. 

Shallot Cooking Tips

  • To prepare for cooking, cut the ends off of the shallot and peel away the skin. Then separate the cloves and chop finely, more finely than you would an onion.
  • Unlike onions, shallots are delicious raw and work well in salads and vinaigrettes.
  • Shallots work particularly well in dishes using white wine, butter and cream (think French cooking). 
  • Although shallots caramelize like onions, it is important to saute´ them gently. Browning over high heat is likely to turn them bitter, much like garlic.
  • When caramelized properly, shallots will result in a sweet, candy-like treat.
  • Roast shallots in their skins until soft. Then peel, puree and use as a flavoring for soups or sauces.
  • Top mashed potatoes, green beans and even steak with lightly fried, crispy shallots.
  • Shallots can also be pickled.
  • Shallots do not cause bad breath like garlic or onions and are more easily digestible.
  • Onions and scallions may be substituted for shallots, but expect a stronger onion flavor. Leeks will have a more similar taste.
  • Refrigeration is not recommended for shallots as cold temperatures tend to encourage sprouting. 

    Shallot Measurements and Substitutions

    • 3 to 4 shallots may be substituted for 1 small onion.
    • 4 medium shallots = 1/4 cup finely minced shallots
    • 8 to 9 shallots = 1 pound
    • 1 shallot = 2 to 3 scallions