Cooking Guide

Pearl Onion Vs Shallot: Are Pearl Onions The Same As Shallots?

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Do you want to add something a little different than the average onion?

Then you should try using pearl onions or shallots in your recipes.

Both of these vegetables have a unique flavor that will give your food an extra boost.

But what is the difference between these two ingredients, and which one should you use?

Keep reading to find out.

What is special about pearl onions?

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Pearl onions are a type of onion that is small and round in shape.

The skin of pearl onions is quite hard to remove, which is in contrast to most types of onions.

Pearl onions are mainly harvested in European countries, like Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands.

As the name implies, pearl onions look like pearls due to their size and color.

They can be known under different names depending on the cuisine, like button, baby, or silverskin onions in the United Kingdom, or onion grelot in French cuisine.

These onions are typically used in roasting recipes, soups, stews, and pickles.

What is special about shallots?

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Shallots are a type of small onions that belong to the Allium family.

They usually have brown skin with white-purple flesh and similar components like garlic.

Shallots are used to add flavor to many dishes like sauces, salads, stir-fries, or pickles, either raw or cooked.

They can be used in place of onions or even garlic.

Shallots can be found in most Asian local markets, grocery stores, or supermarkets.

They should be kept in a dry place to lengthen their shelf life.

What are the differences between pearl onions and shallots?

Pearl onions and shallots differ in many ways, and the comparison table will give you a closer look at how pearl onions set them apart from regular shallots:

 Pearl onionsShallots
AppearanceWhite skin and flesh One bulb structureBrown skin with white-purple flesh Cluster with small bulbs that are easily broken down
FlavorOften sweeterStronger onion-like flavor
Common usesPickled, stewed, braised, roastedFried, stir-fried, diced for salads and sauces
Place of popularityMainly consumed in Europe (Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands)Asian cooking and French cooking

What are the similarities between pearl onions and shallots?

Although pearl onions and shallots have some key differences that are mentioned in the previous part, they do have some things in common, as below:

Pearl onions and shallots are members of the onion family

Pearl onions and shallots are similar in their roots.

They all belong to the onion family, the genus Allium.

This feature gives them other similarities, so keep reading for more information.

Pearl onions and shallots have the same sizes and the flavor of onions

The second similarity between pearl onions and shallots is their sizes and flavors.

They are quite small compared to a red, white, or yellow onion.

Although pearl onions are sweeter than most types of onions, including shallots, they both have the taste of onions, which is sweet, tangy, crisp, and quite pungent.

Pearl onions and shallots are packed with many health benefits

Another thing in common between pearl onions and shallots is that they are packed with many essential nutrients that are very beneficial to our health.

They are rich sources of vitamins, minerals like iron, copper, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants to support our heart health, improve blood circulation, bone health while being low in fat and calories to keep your weight in line.

Pearl onions and shallots can be used the same way in some cases

Pearl onions and shallots can be used interchangeably in some cases.

For example, they are great for pickling, as well as diced for different recipes like salads and stir-fries.

They are meant to add flavor and make your dish tastier.                                                                                                               

Which one is better?

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Both pearl onions and shallots can be used in a variety of dishes to give them an extra kick.

However, due to the slight difference in their flavors, pearl onions can be the favorite of some people while others prefer shallots.

So why not use both of them and see which one do you like more?

We would love to hear from you if you prefer pearl onions or shallots.

Emily W.

Emily Wong is an Asian-American food writer the founder of With nearly 8 years of experience, she has a passion for making cooking accessible to everyone and sharing her personal experiences with food. Emily's vision for is to create a community of food lovers who are passionate about cooking, eating, and sharing their experiences with others. Read my story
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