Difference Between Shallots and Onions

While onions are a very common commodity in almost everyone’s kitchen, shallots may not necessarily be. While they seem very similar, they do have a few distinguishing characteristics. They are both members of the allium family. Shallots have more of a sweet and mild taste, as compared to onions.


Although shallots and onions are different, they can often be interchanged in recipes. One thing to keep in mind should you decide to interchange them, is that one small onions equals 3 shallots. It is only a good idea to interchange the two if the recipe calls for cooked shallots. If it calls for raw shallots, onions would not be an acceptable substitute as the flavor would be too overpowering in this scenario.


When cooked, shallots tend to quickly lose their flavor, whereas onions retain their flavor. Shallots are also not as crunchy as onions. Technically, shallots are onions but, are distinguished by not only their taste, but by their appearance as well. Basically, shallots are smaller and have longer bulbs than a regular onion.

Health Benefits

Both shallots and onions, have their own health benefits. Onions are rich in two nutrients; allicin and fiber. Both of which reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. They also have properties that reduce inflammation, due to the content of chromium.

Shallots are an awesome source of anti-oxidants such as kemferfol and quercetin. They are also rich in vitamins A and C, and contain high amounts of calcium, potassium, copper and iron.
When used in recipes, onions are often chopped and cooked before being added. Shallots can be used fresh, or even pickled. The recipes for each are virtually endless.


Onions are often grown in the form of a bulb, where shallots, on the other hand grow in clusters, much like garlic. Shallots are also much smaller than onions are. Onions are also known to be much harder to grow than shallots. The growth of onions requires a seed, whereas the growth of shallots is more from multiplying vegetatively.


Both shallots and onions offer their own distinct and unique taste. While the options are endless for both, they are both worth experimenting with to try new tastes and flavors that might strike your fancy. Both are relatively easy to work with and make a great accompaniment to almost any dish. They are quick and easy to work up as well. Definitely worth giving the benefit of the doubt to and trying!

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