Shallots Vs Garlic: Key Differences

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Shallots vs Garlic



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Are you a foodie wondering about the differences between shallots and garlic? While these two ingredients may seem similar in appearance and use, they actually play very different roles in recipes.

As members of the Allium family, shallots and garlic share some similarities, but it’s their unique characteristics that set them apart.

Shallots are garlic-like bulbs that consist of cloves separated by thin membranes, but they’re actually a smaller version of onions with a mild onion-like aroma. On the other hand, garlic has a distinctively strong garlicky taste and thick skin with 12 cloves.

In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the differences between shallots vs garlic, so you can use them to their fullest potential in your cooking.

So, let’s dive in and explore the flavorful world of Alliums!

What Are Shallots?

Shallots are vegetables that look like small, elongated onions with pinkish-brown skins. They have white flesh with a flavor that sits in between garlic and onion.

The shallot’s subtle flavor blends smoothly into soups and sauces without dominating them. Moreover, they are packed with vitamins and minerals.

Shallot is high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants like sulfur compounds and flavonoids that contribute to its many health benefits.

Shallots can be found year-round at most grocery stores, usually near the onions or garlic.

Choose shallots that are firm and free from wrinkles, sprouts, bruises, mold, or other signs of decay.

Lastly, you can store your shallots in a cool place (like the pantry) in a paper bag; they should stay fresh for two weeks.

What Is Garlic?

Garlic is not just the seasoning that makes your breath smell bad; it’s a hearty vegetable that plays a crucial in most dishes.

It is an Allium (onion) family member closely related to onions, shallots, leeks, and chives. And its bulb is made up of several sections called cloves.

Furthermore, this vegetable is renowned for its pungent odor and the distinctive flavor that it imparts to cooked dishes. Garlic can be eaten raw or cooked, and it can be used in a wide variety of dishes.

Aside from that, garlic is also known for its medicinal properties.

Read Also: Scallions Vs Leaks

Shallots Vs Garlic: Key Differences

Shallots and garlic may seem similar at first glance, but they both have their fair share of differences. No doubt, both shallots and garlic are onion family members. They are cousins.

However, Shallots are categorized by their ability to form small clusters of bulbs that separate into cloves when harvested.

Garlic, on the other hand, only grows one bulb per plant. While it is possible to find garlic and shallot plants with multiple bulbs, it is much more common in shallots.

Shallots have a sweeter taste than garlic and are less intense. When put side by side, shallots and garlic have noticeably different aromas.

Shallots have a milder scent with hints of onions, while garlic has a strong smell and taste with no hint of sweetness.

Both garlic and shallots are used in recipes around the world.

While they share some similarities, their most notable difference is their taste and smell, which affect how they can be used in cooking.

For instance, soups and sauces often call for shallots because the flavor is not quite so strong and, therefore, will not overpower other ingredients.

Pickled vegetables are often made with garlic instead of shallots because of their stronger flavor, which better holds the vinegar.

Aside from the numerous health benefits of eating garlic over shallots, garlic also has a lower level of carbohydrates and calories. Shallots have around 12% carbs, while garlic has only 5%.

Based on this study alone, we know that choosing garlic over shallots will result in a lower metabolic rate, which leads to more weight loss for anyone overweight or obese.

One last thing to keep in mind: it’s best to avoid frying shallots, as they can become bitter when cooked for too long at high temperatures.

Garlic can handle these conditions much better, so you should keep that in mind when deciding which one to use in certain recipes!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Shallots Taste Like Garlic?

Not precisely! When you bite into a shallot, it gives off an oniony flavor right away, then it ends on a pleasant note of garlic but not quite as pungent as garlic.

Are Shallots More Like Garlic Or Onions?

The most important thing to know about shallots is that they’re a species of onion that looks like garlic. Shallots taste much more like an onion than garlic, regardless of the garlicky shape.

Why Do Chefs Use Shallots Instead Of Onions?

Chefs use shallots instead of onions because the shallot is a more versatile, flavorful ingredient that can be used in a wider range of dishes. Shallots have a softer, more pleasant texture than onions, making them great for raw preparations like salads and salsas.

They also have a more complex flavor with less harsh “onion” notes and more sweetness.

What Is A Good Substitute For Garlic?

If you are a garlic lover, you may have run into this problem before. There is nothing more frustrating than thinking about how great a recipe will taste with garlic and then realizing that you are all out of it.

Thankfully, there are some great ways to use a substitute for garlic in these situations. Some of which are: Garlic powder or garlic flakes, Chives, Shallot, Cumin, Leeks, Scallions, onion, or Asafoetida.

Can Shallots Be Eaten Raw?

Yes, shallots can be eaten raw. Shallots taste best raw. With their milder flavor than onions and high vitamin C content, shallots are great for your salads and sandwiches. You can sauté them or roast them whole as a side dish. You could also try pickling them with vinegar for extra flavor.

Furthermore, they add kick without hurting your eyes, plus they’ll give you much-needed vitamins and minerals that other veggies can’t offer.


If you’re trying to decide between shallots vs garlic, it will come down to what you’re cooking. From the comparison above, the two are very similar in that they are both members of the allium family.

However, if you are not a robust eater, garlic will be the perfect fit since it has an intense aroma and a harsh taste.

On the other hand, Shallots give your recipes a rich, mild, and complex taste and go well with various seafood and chicken dishes.

The choice is up to you!


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