The world of alliums is sometimes confusing. There are many varieties, from bunching onions, pearl onions and bulb onions to shallots and scallions. Explore the appearance, flavor, and nutritional difference between scallions vs shallots and tips for growing and cooking them at home.
Chives, leeks, green onions, spring onions, scallions, and shallots all come to mind when we think about onions since they are all from the allium family, and many are interchangeable.
However, some of them are perfect as the main ingredient when a recipe calls for onions, while others are better as a condiment, and they also vary in appearance and flavor.
Differences and Similarities between Shallots vs Scallions
While bulb onions, like red onions and yellow onions, are easily recognizable and excellent caramelized or eaten raw, other allium types have a mild onion flavor, and are ideal for making vinaigrette or as a garnish. What’s the difference between a shallot and scallion, and can you use them interchangeably in recipes?
The onion family is vast – some alliums have a mild flavor while others have a stronger taste, and understanding the difference goes a long way when preparing meals. Learn what shallots and scallions are, how they differ, and ways to use them to prepare a side dish.
Are Scallions and Shallots the Same?
Regular onions are easy to identify whether they are red, yellow, or white onions. However, other alliums are a bit more tricky to tell apart. Are scallions and shallots the same, and what are they, exactly?
The scallion (Allium fistulosum) and the shallot (Allium cepa) are both a member of the allium family. Harvest scallions as immature bulbs before the onion forms. Shallots are fully grown and divided into cloves like garlic.
We often refer to scallions as green onions, but they are long thin, green tubes with a small white root base. Shallots resemble small onions in clusters with a tapered, almost thinned-out shape and golden brown or copper-colored papery skin that you easily peel off.
Flavor and Texture Difference between Shallots and Scallions
Appearance is not the only thing that is different between a scallion and a shallot. Learn the taste and texture difference between shallots and scallions to help you choose wisely while grocery shopping for your next recipe.
While both alliums have a strong and aromatic taste, they vary. Scallions have a lighter, milder flavor since they are less mature, and the green tops of scallions have a fresh, grassy taste.
Are shallots and red onions the same? Shallots and red onions are similar in color but taste differently and are different sizes.
Raw shallots taste more like regular onions with a hint of garlic that becomes more mellow and sweet when you caramelize them. The texture of shallots is also similar to other bulb onions, while a scallion’s surface resembles the green leaves of chives. Both scallions and shallots are delicious raw or cooked, as are chives vs spring onion.
The best way to cook scallions is in Asian dishes and stir-fry, while shallots are scrumptious caramelized, roasted, and braised whole. Raw scallions are perfect as a garnish and raw in potato, tuna, and chicken salads. Shallots are a staple ingredient in vinaigrette dressings. Use scallions as a replacement for shallots if needed.
Nutritional Differences of Scallions vs Shallots
While they are both an allium, there is a nutritional distinction between shallots and scallions.Shallots have considerably more vitamin K, vitamin A, and beta carotene than scallions due to the green parts of the allium.
Scallion types have more vitamin B-6. Both are rich in minerals, including phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron. A tablespoon of shallots contains 1.7 grams of carbohydrates, while the same amount of scallions have 1.1 grams.
Both plants have antioxidant and antibiotic properties, although shallots have more calories. Scallions are a great source of fiber, packed with phytonutrients, and have twice as much calcium as shallots, but they also have higher sodium levels.
Are Scallions and Shallots Easy to Grow?
The best way to ensure that your food is fresh and pesticide-free is to grow your own in a home garden, and alliums are no exception. Shallots and scallions are just as easy to grow as regular onions and the shallots growing season is virtually the same as scallions. Here are some gardening tips to help you grow healthy plants.
While shallots are sometimes a good substitute for scallions, it’s still a great idea to grow both of them in the veggie garden. Alliums thrive in loamy, well-draining soil and full to part sun. Shallots grow one to two feet tall, while scallions grow one to three feet tall.
Plant scallions in the spring for a summer harvest and shallots in the late fall for an early summer harvest. Shallots only require twelve inches between rows, while scallions need one to two feet between rows.
Both plants have a shallow roots system and want continuous watering through the season to ensure the dirt is lightly moist but not soggy. Scallions need balanced fertilizer, and shallots do not require any. When to harvest shallots is about 90 days after planting, and scallions are ready to harvest in 60 to 80 days.
One easy way to plant shallots and scallions is in a glass of water. Growing shallots in water from scraps, just as with scallions, is very simple. Enjoy harvesting all year rather than just during a single season. Replanting green onions in soil is possible, too.
Using Shallots and Scallions to Make a Pasta Dish
Are scallions and shallots the same, and can you use them together in a dish? Since scallions are small, bulb-like onions and shallots have a mild onion flavor, the two pair beautifully. We like to combine them with tomato paste and anchovies for the perfect pasta side dish.
Drizzle the olive oil into a Dutch oven on medium heat and add the shallots and garlic. Cut the roots off the scallions, remove the green tops and set them aside, add the white parts to the pot, and season with salt and pepper. Saute them for fifteen to twenty minutes while stirring until the shallots caramelize.
Add the red pepper flakes and anchovies and cook for about two minutes before adding the tomato paste. Stir while cooking to prevent scorching for another two minutes before removing the Dutch oven from the heat.
Cook the pasta in a pot of water according to the package instructions or until al dente. Drain the noodles, reserve one cup of the pasta water, and add the noodles and water to the shallot mixture.
Cook on medium-high while swirling the pot to coat the pasta for three to five minutes. Spoon the pasta into bowls, finely chop the green part of the scallions and top the pasta with a desired amount of the diced garnish before serving.
There are so many different allium types that a trip to the grocery store searching for specific ingredients can become frustrating. Fortunately, there are ways to tell scallions and shallots apart, and growing them in the home garden ensures that you get the freshest, organic foods.
We hope that understanding the difference between scallions vs shallots keeps your favorite dishes full of oniony flavor, and we’d love it if you’d share our shallot and scallion guide with your family and friends on Pinterest and Facebook.