{Tips & Tricks} Cooking with Leeks

If you’re anything like the woman who rang up my groceries at the store, you’re probably wondering, “What in the world is a leek?”

Leeks are white, yellow and green in color and they have a light and sweet flavor. It is because of this flavor that they are often used as a substitute for onions.

They’re probably best known for being served as potato leek soup. However, leeks can be added to a variety of soups and stews, used to garnish dishes or mixed in with salads.


When at the grocery store or market, make sure you choose leeks that are green and healthy. Soft or mushy leeks are often a sign of rot and should be avoided.


To prepare the leeks for cutting, be sure to cut the leeks just below the dark green leaves since the leaves are often tough and not typically eaten. Also, be sure to cut the bulbs off of the bottom of the leeks and discard.

Once the ends are removed, it’s important to wash them thoroughly since dirt and grit often gets lodged into the white sections. Often, it is best to cut them lengthwise and run the leeks under cold water, fanning the layers to ensure that all of the dirt is washed away.

Cutting the leeks depends on how you want to prepare them. Leeks are often cut lengthwise or in roundels. Once you decide on how they need to be cut, according to the recipe directions, the leeks are ready to be cooked.


Leeks can be steamed, boiled, fried or roasted. One of the best ways to cook leaks is to sweat them. To sweat them, place them in a pan with butter or oil and cook over low heat until they get soft but not browned. Leeks should never be browned, or overcooked, because it will turn them into slimy mush. Instead, cook them until they are tender. They need to be cooked carefully and with a watchful eye because it’s easy to undercook and overcook them.

Leeks can be a delicious and nutritious addition to a dish if prepared and cooked properly. If you like onions in dishes, try substituting leeks every once in a while for a true culinary treat.


  • Reply Appetite for Conversation May 8, 2010 at 12:11 am

    I adore leeks. They make any dish yummy! But I admit sometimes I think twice about using them because they do take longer to prep than onions since they're SO DIRTY!

    Maybe I'll pull out a leek recipe soon…

  • Reply Maria May 10, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I need to use leeks more often. Thanks for the reminder:)

  • Reply Cookin' Canuck May 10, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Leeks are one of my favorite ingredients to use. They have such a savory, mellow taste and really add something special to any dish.

  • Reply Tracy May 10, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I just started cooking with leeks this year and I love them! Great tips!

  • Reply Maggy@ThreeManyCooks May 11, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Leeks are so full of flavor, there's a few dishes I make that couldn't go without 'em (like our Cheesy Leeks). But I'll use them in anything from omelets to stews. YUM!

  • Reply Michelle {Brown Eyed Baker} May 11, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Great tutorial on cooking with leeks! I've been wanting to make a cream of potato and leek soup, mmmm….

  • Reply elder.jscott April 11, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    Leeks are actually easily cleaned if you simply cut them into rounds and toss them into a large, deep bowl of cold water. Agitate them in the water and let the dirt settle to the bottom of the bowl. Then you just lift them out with a slotted spoon or your fingers and dry on a towel.

  • Reply Lauren June 15, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I love leeks but hate getting prepping. I secretly also love them browned, & mushy! But that's just me :) My favorite is in a pan and adding in some bone broth to help steam it along. It gives an awesome flavor.

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