What is a shallot?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question” What is a shallot?” with an in-depth analysis of its introduction and varieties. Moreover, we are going to highlight top substitutes for a shallot.

What is a shallot?

Shallots (Allium ascalonicum) are a member of the allium family. Shallots are closely related to onions, garlic, and chives. You can dice, mince, or slice, shallots. Shallots are used for seasoning dishes. You can use shallots either with a soft onion undercurrent or a pop of sharp acidity similar to a hint of garlic.

What do shallots look like?

 You can easily identify fresh shallots by the following characteristics:

  • 1. They are small in size
  • 2. Their skin is papery and coppery-pink
  • 3. Their flesh’s color is pale purple and white
  • 4. The bulbs of shallots grow in clusters, similar to cloves of garlic.

When you are shopping for shallots, then try to look for bulbs with a firm texture.

What do shallots taste like?

A shallot’s flavor is milder and more delicate than a regular onion, though they can often be used in place of common onions (like white or yellow onions), and vice versa.

3 types of Shallots:

Generally, there are three main types of shallots, which are given below:

1. French gray shallot:

Some purists consider this French gray shallot so named for the grayish hue of its outer skin to be the ultimate culinary varietal and only “true” shallot.

2. Jersey shallot:

Pink or “Jersey” shallots have a rosier color. Jersey shallot is the most common variety found in U.S. grocery stores and markets. Jersey shallots are functional. These shallots are delicious as the French gray varietal.

3. Echalion:

Echalion is also known as “banana” shallots. These shallots are a cross between a regular shallot and an onion. Banana shallots have many of the best qualities of each parent vegetable, including the larger size of an onion and the milder flavor of a shallot.


Where do shallots come from?

The origin of Shallots is Central or Southeast Asia. after this, they were found in  India and the Mediterranean. The ancient Greeks were trading in a Palestinian port, where they discovered shallots. This is now known as Ashkelon in Israel, while the ancient Egyptians used them as medicinal remedies.

What is the difference between shallots and onions?

The biggest distinction between shallots and other onions, besides the strength of flavor, is the cellular structure.

When you cook shallots, they break down much more easily than their larger counterparts. It will allow for a meltier level of caramelization or a more subtle touch for creating a foundation in things like sauces.

White and green parts of green onions are often used differently in cooking. Shallots contain uniform texture and flavor throughout. More than this, shallots have a sharper, stronger flavor than green onions. The white ends of green onions come closest to capturing the same delicate bite

How to cook with shallots?

Shallots are known as one of the more versatile ingredients you’ll ever come across. They can be used as aromatics. Shallots are used to build a flavor in a sautéed dish, stock, or sauce the same way garlic or onions are sauteed at the beginning of a recipe. You can roast whole shallots just like other vegetables and serve them as a side dish.

First of all, fry shallots. Fry them until you get a golden, crispy topping for vegetables, casseroles, or Vietnamese pho. You can use raw shallots in salad dressings and mignonette sauce for oysters, so don’t count them out for the occasional raw application.

Shallot substitute:

You can use onions as a substitute for shallots.

When the recipe calls for cooked onions or cooked shallots, the substitution works best here. When raw, then onions will be too harsh to trade for shallots.

  • As you know shallots are smaller, then it means you’ll need to use more when swapping for onions. For instance, one small onion has roughly the same size as three small shallots.
  • If possible, opt for yellow onions when substituting. Sweet onions are too sweet. White and red onions are too intense.

How to cut Shallots:

You can mince a shallot just as you mince an onion. All you have to do is remove the vegetable’s papery skin, then cut it into thin slices from root to tip (remember to hold the shallot steady to keep its shape).

Finally, turn the shallot. Cut thin slices in the other direction. If these cuts are closer to one another, your pieces will be finer.

Shallot recipes:

  • Seared Chicken With Salad and Grapes
  • Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Garlic, and Shallots
  • Turkey with Shallot-Mustard Sauce and Roasted Potatoes
  • Mushroom-Shallot Sauce
  • Braised Pork With Potatoes and Shallots

Here, you can find out about the storage method of shallots.

Other FAQs about Shallots that you may be interested in.

How to prepare shallots

How to peel a shallot

What do shallots taste like? 

What can I substitute for shallots?


In this brief guide, we answered the question” What is a shallot?” with an in-depth analysis of its introduction and varieties. Moreover, we highlighted the top substitutes for a shallot.