How to Cut Shallots

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Learn how to cut shallots into slices, dices, or minced. Cook up this fragrant allium to add subtle sweet and earthy notes or a more robust acidity when used raw.

How to cut shallots into various sized pieces.

Now’s the time to add shallots to your culinary arsenal. One little bulb has the flavor power of onion and garlic combined. The taste is more delicate that blends well into recipes just using small amounts. They are lovely whole-roasted to enhance its sweetness, sliced up and sauteed along with vegetables, pickled, or minced fine for a spicy vinaigrette. Since they are smaller in size, I like that very little goes to waste.

Once you grab a pink-ish copper allium, cutting can seem tricky as they grow in clusters instead of one large bulb. Don’t worry. Separating and removing the papery skin is similar to working on onions, just on a smaller scale. Once cut, there are endless possibilities for you to use this ingredient to enhance the flavor of savory dishes.

Trim and separate

Knife cutting the tip off a shallot.

Use a sharp chefs knife or paring knife to cut off the tip and root end of the bulb. You’ll be able to see the cluster enclosed inside the papery skin. There are typically two. Use your hands to pull them apart.

Peel the skin

Person peeling the skin off a shallot.

To remove the papery skin, make a shallow score lengthwise down the bulb. Simply peel off the skin to remove the top layer. If desired, you can keep them whole and roast them in the oven. They get sweet and caramelized. It’s delicious!

Cut into slices

Person cutting a shallot into slices.

Once you peel off the skin, you can cut them into thin slivers. Slice the shallot crosswise into the desired width, typically ⅛ to 1/4-inch thick depending on the use. This size creates little rings that are great for breading and frying for a crispy texture, pickling, and sauteing with other vegetables.

Cut into dices

Person slicing a shallot into small dices.

For a large bulb, you can slice the shallot in half lengthwise. Otherize, I like to keep the separated bulb intact, placing the flat side down on the cutting board. Make slices lengthwise about ¼ to 1/2-inch wide, not cutting through the root end. 

This technique helps hold the layers together. Make a parallel cut lengthwise in the middle, then cut crosswise to make smaller diced pieces. These are great to add flavor to soups, stews, sauce, and sauteed dishes.

Mince

Chefs knife mincing shallots.

Use the same technique as you would dice a shallot, but make thinner slices lengthwise, about 1/8-inch thick. Finely slice crosswise, then rock the blade of a chef’s knife back and forth to mince. Use a small amount to make vinaigrettes for salads, mix it into burger patties, or for a sweet and aromatic flavor to soups.

Selecting

When selecting, ensure the shallots are not sprouting. The bulbs themselves should be firm and heavy, with no soft spots or wrinkling. Make sure they are not damp. Excess dampness may cause diseases such as bulb rot or mildew.

Storing

Any bulb or root associated with the allium family should be stored at room temperature. They require a cool, dry place to ensure long-lasting stability. If appropriately maintained, the shallot can last for up to 6 months.

However, if you need to use part, store the rest in the fridge in a sealed container or bag away from any other fruits and vegetables so the smell doesn’t linger. If placed in the fridge, they only last for a few days.

Ways to use shallots

Frequently asked questions

Is a shallot an onion?

Shallots are from the same family as onions, Allium cepa. They have similar taste profiles. However, shallots are milder with more sweetness and a hint of garlic flavor. They can be substituted for each other using the exact amounts. About three shallots are equal to one small onion.

What can be used to substitute shallots?

Use white or yellow onions for a sharper flavor or red onions for a milder taste. You can also use the white parts of green onions or scallions or leeks. Combine minced garlic with onions to mimic the shallot flavor.

Shallots cut into different sizes and shapes.

Why does the smell of shallots intensify once cut?

The cell walls of shallots and most allium vegetables contain organosulfur compounds. When cut, alliinase enzymes in the plant rupture, creating sulfur compounds that you can easily smell. The finer the shallot cut and the longer it sits out, the stronger the aroma. Cooking mellows out the smell as it’s very volatile and reduces when exposed to heat over time.

How to Cut Shallots

Learn how to cut shallots into slices, dices, or minced, and use it to add subtle sweet and earthy notes or robust acidity to recipes.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Servings 1 serving
Course Condiment
Cuisine French

Ingredients  

  • 1 shallot

Instructions 

  • Use a sharp knife to cut off the tip and root end of the bulb. If there are multiple bulbs, use your hands to pull them apart and separate them.
  • To remove the papery skin, make a shallow score lengthwise down the bulb, then peel.
  • Slices: Slice the shallot crosswise into the desired width, about ⅛ to ¼-inch thick. This cutting method creates small rings.
  • Diced: For a large shallot, cut in half lengthwise. Smaller bulbs keep whole. Place the flat side down on the cutting board. Make slices lengthwise about ¼ to ½-inch wide, not cutting through the root end. Make a parallel cut lengthwise in the middle, then cut crosswise to make smaller diced pieces.
  • Mince: Use the same technique as you would dice a shallot, but make thinner slices lengthwise, about ⅛-inch thick. Finely slice crosswise, then rock the blade of a chef's knife back and forth to mince.

Notes

  • Storing: Wrap peeled bulbs in foil. Store cut shallots in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 1 serving
Calories 18kcal (1%)Carbohydrates 4g (1%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 1g (2%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gSodium 3mgPotassium 84mg (2%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 2g (2%)Vitamin A 1IUVitamin C 2mg (2%)Calcium 9mg (1%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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  1. James Tonneson says

    I enjoy all the “How To” tips you write and refer to them from time to time. Keep writing. They are much appreciated!
    James