{Tips & Tricks} Cooking with Shallots

What is a shallot? A shallot looks like a small, elongated onion with typically copper, reddish or gray skin. However, once you peel it, it looks like garlic because it breaks into cloves. A small shallot will usually have two to three cloves whereas a large shallot can have up to six cloves.

Speaking of onions and garlic…what’s one of the best things about shallots besides their flavor? They don’t give you bad breath like onions and garlic.

Let’s take a closer look at how to select, store, prepare and cook with shallots…


In general, shallots tend to contain more moisture than onions. Therefore, it’s always best to steer clear from shallots that show the beginning signs of mold. The shallot should feel dry but not shriveled.


Store shallots like you store onions — in a cool, dry place with plenty of air circulation. Also, be sure to not store them closely packed due to the threat of spreading mold.


The easiest way to prepare a shallot for cooking is to slice the ends off the shallot (top and tail) and then peel back the skin. Next, pull apart the bulbs and slice them carefully and thinly using a sharp knife. Shallots are typically chopped more finely than an onion, especially when it comes to French cooking.


  • Prepare mindfully— Even though shallots may be similar to an onion, they are definitely not the same. In other words, they are not baby onions. They tend to be sweet so one or two finely chopped shallots are usually all that is needed to flavor recipes. 
  • Saute slowly — Although shallots caramelize like onions, they overcook easily. It is important to saute them slowly over low heat or else you risk the chance that you overcook them, resulting in a bitter taste instead of sweet.
  • Merry correctly — Keep in mind that shallots tend to merry well with dishes that call for white wine, cream and butter.

Now that you know what shallots are and how to prepare them, be sure to pick some up the next time you stop by the grocery store. They add great flavor to food…just remember that a little goes a long way!

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  1. I felt the same away until I learned more about how and when to use shallots. The sweetness adds so much flavor to recipes. I absolutely love them. I hope this post helps you the next time you're confused!

    I'm so happy that you are loving my {Friday Series} posts! Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your comments. It's so fun coming up with tips and tricks that help people in the kitchen.

  2. I'm not a huge fan of onions at all, so anytime a recipe calls for an onion, I use a shallot instead. I love the milder flavor and no one notices the difference except for me.

  3. I love shallots too and use them in many recipes but I recently received a recipe that now has left me confused. Usually the shallots I find in my store on the East Coast has 2 cloves in the bulb and are approximately 2 inches long. The base of the recipe calls for 3 shallots and the sauce requires 4. Do I use the whole bulb including all the cloves considering this one shallot or just one? It seems like too much!

  4. My wife turned me onto shallots. We met a few years back and the first dish she made for me was chicken thighs with shallots and garlic. Good stuff and I'm not a fan of chicken. Nice blog

  5. Interesting. I went to the BBC website on shallots, where it was stated that shallots had less moisture than onions. You say they have more??
    Mind you, you came out ahead of said BBC article, so obviously, you are the best.

  6. I generally dislike onions, but shallots are my new favorite vegetable. There is nothing strong or unpleasant about the taste. I have discovered that when cooking with shallots, the less you cook them, the better. Sauteeing or otherwise cooking them results in a loss of their already mild flavor. I will cook onions because they are too bitter to eat raw, but this is not the case with shallots. The rawer the better. Lends a sweet, mild oniony/garlicky zing to your dish.

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