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Mar 14, 2013 02:48 PM

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.