What Does a Shallot Taste Like?

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In this article, we’re going to cover the big questions about shallots. What do they taste like? Can you use onions instead in a recipe? Keep reading to find out.

Shallot in the metal plate on the wooden table top view

Let’s get started…

What Does a Shallot Taste Like? 

Like yellow, white and red onions, shallots are cornerstones of savory cooking. They’re lively and flavorful in both raw and cooked form in salads, soups and sautes.

The taste of a shallot is most robust in its raw form, sharp and astringent like larger onions. They become very sweet when cooked, especially when done slowly over low heat and allowed to caramelize.

Shallot Texture 

You wouldn’t want to bite into a whole shallot, but if you were to, you would find it very much like biting into an onion. It would be firm, crisp and juicy, but more delicate than an onion.

Shallots are prized for their fine texture, and cooked shallots become soft and translucent. The more caramelized a shallot is, the more silky and smooth it will be. 

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What Is the Difference Between an Onion and a Shallot? 

A shallot is a type of onion. You can find white and reddish-purple shallots, just like onions. The finer texture is one of the main differences between the shallot and the onion, but there are flavor differences as well.

On the whole, shallots are much milder. They may have an onion bite, but it’s soft, almost sweet. There’s also a garlic essence in shallots that’s not found in onions, though this flavor is not pronounced.

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Can I Use an Onion Instead of a Shallot? 

If you’re making something that requires shallots but all you have are onions, you can use those instead. Just be aware that your recipe will take on a sharper, more pungent flavor than if you had used shallots.

You might want to use less onions if you’re substituting (unless all you need is a dash, in which case you should be O.K.). Throw in a little extra garlic, too. Either way, more garlic never hurts!

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How Can You Tell If Shallots Are Bad? 

Because of the papery skin, it can be tough to tell when a shallot isn’t good anymore. Still, there are some things you can be on the lookout for.

Old shallots may start to look less colorful, even on the outside. They may become yellowish or just less vibrantly hued. Sometimes they become a little squishy or hollow-feeling. In both of these cases, they’ve probably gone off. If all else fails, an unpleasant odor will always tip you off.

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Shallot Cooking Tips 

So what can you do with shallots? If you’re still not into raw onion or shallot flavor, that’s perfectly alright. Enjoy the sweet, mellow taste of sauteed shallots anywhere you’d used cooked onions.

This recipe is for a vegan shallot gravy. Pour it on your vegan roast for the holidays, on mashed potatoes or even on roasted veggies. It’s creamy and delicious.

Here’s what’s in it:

  • Vegan butter
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Vegan white wine
  • Veggie or fake “chicken” broth
  • Thyme
  • Nondairy milk
  • Flour (gluten-free if you’d like a gluten-free gravy)
  • Salt
  • Pepper (black or white)

Wrap Up 

Shallots are milder, sweeter kinds of onions that are nice alternatives if you don’t enjoy the pungency of an onion. Add them to salad dressings, gravies, sauces and roasted vegetable medleys. Really, there’s no wrong way to use a shallot.

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