What are the major differences between the Onions and Shallots?

Shallots vs Onions

Often we have seen many recipes which include shallots rather than onions. Have you ever wondered what is the difference between these two and in which recipes we use shallots and in which we use onions? In today’s post we will discuss the difference between these two vegetables and how we can use these vegetables to enhance the flavor of the dishes that we make. 

Let’s first talk about what are shallots? A shallot is a bulb vegetable like an onion but rather it is smaller and elongated version of an onion. If we look closely a shallot grows in a bunch like garlic but when you slice them you can see the layers like an onions rather than cloves. The French grey shallot or Giselle, which has been considered to be the "true shallot" by many of the culinary people. Shallots have milder taste and odor than onions. So they are mostly served raw or cooked preferably with mild stir fries. On the other hand onions have more pungent and stronger taste and they are mostly used where you need deep frying and shallow frying. Onions are crunchier than shallots. So if we want to summarize in points then –

  • Shallots have milder taste and odor than onions
  • Onions are crunchier than shallots, and
  • Shallots are commonly eaten raw and used for mild stir fry as they lose flavors quickly compared to onions which are used for deep frying and heavy stir fry.

Now if we talk about onions, it is a general term used to refer plants category in the type Allium. And onions is a common name, usually refers to specific specie, i.e. “garden or bulb onion” (Allium cepa). A shallot, on the other hand, is referred to two different Allium species i.e. Allium oschaninii and Allium cepa var. aggregatum or Allium ascalonicum. Shallots are smaller in size if compared to onions. If we compare their plantation method then, Onions are seed-propagated, whereas shallots are vegetative multiplied. People mostly get confused between shallots and white onions but white onions are the best replacement for a recipe which require shallots if you don’t have shallots handy. If we also look at the price sections shallots are expensive than onions, although onions are more difficult to grow than shallots. Onions are like disc-shaped bulbs while shallots appears more like elongated version of onions. Shallots are often used for fresh cooking in fact shallot are used for being pickled too whereas onions are often chopped and used as a main ingredient in many recipes. So if we try to summarize this paragraph into points –

  • Shallots are smaller in size if compared to onions.
  • Onions are seed-propagated, whereas shallots are vegetative multiplied
  • Shallots are expensive than onions, although onions are more difficult to grow than shallots.
  • Onions are like disc-shaped bulbs while shallots appears more like elongated version of onions.

Now let’s compare its nutritional values and health benefits. A 100 g of onion contains, 9.34g of carbohydrates, 1.1g of protein and 0.1g of fat whereas a 100 g of shallot contains, 16.8g of carbohydrates, 2.50g of protein, and 0.1g of fat. Moreover, shallots contains more calories than onions. Now, onions are rich in fiber and allicin, which helps in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure whereas shallots are rich in anti-oxidants, foliates, thiamin, vitamin c, iron, calcium, copper, potassium and phosphorus etc. 

So, from the above comparison, now you can differentiate these two vegetables easily and also can use them effectively in the cooking. At the end, I would like to conclude although they belong to the same family but like in family not two members are same or have same characters and similarities likewise these two are different and can be replaced easily with some of the cooking style. I hope this article helped you understanding these vegetables better!

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