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Subsitute for shallots in recipes?

I'm new to chowhound but have read extensively. Question: I have any number of recipes saved (many for vinaigrettes, salad dressings, etc) on Pinterest using shallots. However, my limited budget makes them a rather, erm, expensive ingredient. What would you suggest as a substitute? Finely diced red onion, vidalia or what? Many thanks.

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  1. Any mild/sweet onion plus a touch of garlic, or the white part of scallion.

    1. I've used the white parts of scallions. Red onions might be OK. Do you live anywhere near a large Asian (particularly SE Asian) community? I've found that shallots in SE Asian markets are dirt cheap! Ditto with limes, which are always expensive in regular grocery stores.

      1. While I usually have shallots on hand, your best bet as a substitute (which I've used a number of times) is a sweet onion like "Vidalia", "Texas Sweet", etc. Don't sub in scallions; & even red onions are a bit too harsh. Sweet onions are your hands-down best bet.

        1. In a vinaigrette, I would just leave out the shallot. No need to replace it. Garlic would probably be nice, but if you're on a super-budget, you may not want to buy a head of garlic just to get a teaspoon.

          I do not recommend garlic or onion powder or salt, btw.

          Maybe wait until a day when you're going to be using red or sweet onion or garlic for something else.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Jay F

            Well, my understanding is that the shallots actually help the vinaigrette to emulsify, so it is there for a reason (though a little mustard will also help the dressing emulsify).

            I like to macerate finely diced or minced shallots in vinegar with a pinch of kosher salt for about 15 minutes, then add the oil and any other ingredients.

            1. re: will47

              Well, then buy shallots. But I thought you were looking for substitutes.

                1. re: will47

                  Oh. Sorry.

                  I guess I was confused by your both having the same purple "W" logo, and six similar, teeny-tiny peacock blue alphanumerics for names.

              1. re: will47

                haven't heard that (not disputing...) -- usually mustard or egg yolk is used for emulsifying.

            2. They are a lot per pound, but they don't weigh very much at all; not to second-guess you, but have you put one on the scale to see what it costs?

              2 Replies
              1. re: sandylc

                And they're cheaper in Asian markets, my answer of the day.

                I get a 10 pound bag at the farmers market every fall.

                1. re: sandylc

                  This is what I was going to say. I'm on a pretty tight budget and don't find shallots to be too expensive since you're only buying one or two bulbs at a time. It's shocking to look at the per pound price though.

                2. If they are to be sauteed, I usually just substtitute some chopped yellow onion. If raw, then maybe the white part of a scallion or a yellow onion, depending on context. The taste is somewhat different but the substitution works.

                  1. Most stores sell them individually, and most recipes don't require much (as someone else pointed out, a single shallot is rarely that expensive). While you can, of course substitute onions, for certain applications, especially salad dressings, there's a reason that shallots are used - notably, their relatively mild flavor when raw compared to other members of that family.

                    Pro tip - Chinese / Vietnamese markets often sell the Asian style of shallots for much lower prices, though you often have to buy a whole bag.

                    1. Thank y'all (you like me, your really like me...lol) for all the responses. The last time I looked at meijer, it was a netbag for about $4-5. I don't know if we have an Asian market (Ft Wayne/Allen county 360k) but I know we have one of the largest Burmes/Hmong populations in the US. You guys are great.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: windin

                        Another thing to keep in mind is that shallots will last you a long while. So a bag may cost $5, but it'll last you a couple months assuming you're not using huge quantities at a time (most dressings I've seen only need a tablespoon or two). Keep an eye out for them selling loosely too. I'm not familiar with Meijer but at my King Soopers (Kroger) and Sprouts, they both sell them loose, so you can just buy what you need for a particular recipe.

                        1. re: windin

                          Whoa, that's pricey. I just bought an 8 oz bag of "Melissa's" shallots for $2.49 at meijer in Ann Arbor. And I thought that price was outrageous. Maybe talk to the produce manager there about the price?

                        2. Minced sweet onion soaked in cold water for 15 minutes can also work in a pinch. The soak takes away a little of the bite.

                          1. 1 small onion + 1 clove crushed garlic is a good substitute. This would be for about three shallots.