Kitchen Tip: When To Replace Onions With Shallots

Can onions be substituted with shallots despite the fact that they have an onion-like scent and appearance? Despite our best efforts to always keep a few onions on hand, life's unexpected turns do occasionally interfere, causing your supply to run out. It can be simple to forget, especially when it comes to a basic ingredient that you probably always assume to be there in your kitchen. But, as you're getting ready to make curry base, you find out that there are no onions. The flavour of onions is difficult for many other substances to truly mimic. Not having onions is a problem; it's not just a matter of substituting thyme for oregano. When that happens, your thoughts will inevitably turn to the unused shallot in your pantry. 

Yet you typically run across the opposite with shallots. Despite the fact that they are typical grocery store goods, they aren't used as frequently in recipes. There are many alternatives to them, even when they are present. You may discover too late that you genuinely need a shallot when you weren't expecting it because you don't store up on them because you use shallots frequently. The fact that you produced the dressing and now have nothing to do with the extra shallots also means that when you do purchase one, it can stay in storage for a while. Yet, are these two issues mutually exclusive? Can those shallots be used in place of onions to make something? 

You may be wondering how closely related shallots and onions are because of their similarities. Shallots are not merely miniature onions; they belong to the same allium family as onions and are kin to other flavorful bulbs like green onions and garlic. Although there will be some variances, onions and shallots taste close enough for them to be substituted. Onions have a sharper bite than shallots, which shallots lack. They still include part of the acidity that gives onions their bite, but it is tempered and is also slightly countered by sweetness. Despite their smaller size, you'll need the same number of shallots as you did onions in the recipe, so you should be aware of that as well. 

When substituting shallots for onions in recipes that call for white onions or in meals where the onion flavour is more of a background component, be aware that shallots have a milder flavour and will thus pair better with those foods. Shallots can substitute for red or yellow onions in a pinch if you need the punch, but they won't produce the same results. There aren't really any better options, of course, unless you have a leak lying around, then utilise that shallot immediately. In the best case scenario, you won't even notice the difference; the worst case situation is that your food turns out to be a little bland.