Fried Shallots Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Slicing shallots to the proper thickness with a mandoline ensures that they cook at an even rate and are able to crisp properly without becoming greasy.
  • Removing the shallots from the heat and straining them when they're lightly golden keeps them from turning too dark and bitter due to carryover cooking.
  • Gently blotting the shallots on multiple layers of paper towels keeps them from turning soggy and oily.
  • Along with crispy fried shallots, this recipe produces an aromatic fried-shallot oil that can be used to make things like vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, or subsequent batches of fried shallots.

Fried shallots, a garnish common to Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian cuisines, were a prized commodity in one of the restaurant kitchens where I worked in Boston. They popped up as a crunchy, savory garnish in any number of dishes on the ever-changing à la carte and tasting menus—sprinkled over a soup with lobster andunione day, scattered over braised suckling pig glazed with a fish sauce caramel the next. They provided crunch for fish crudos, fresh pasta dishes, and salads, and were incorporated into alabne-based dipping sauce for a fried-onion-string bar-menu snack.

Because they went into almost everything, nearly every cook, as well as the chef expediting at the pass—the air traffic control hub of a restaurant kitchen, where plates get their final once-over and presentation flourish before being sent to tables—had a container of crispy shallots on their station.

Running out of fried shallots in that kitchen simply wasn't an option; the couple of times that I saw it happen, it wasn't pretty for the cook who had under-prepped for the night. And for a time, the cook responsible for that duty was me, the garde-manger.

Each week, my station partner and I would plan out our prep work, with a constant eye on our fried-shallot inventory. We'd stash away secret backup deli containers of them, far from the other cooks who always took a liberal approach to prep they weren't responsible for, in hiding spots in the basem*nt dried-storage area below the main kitchen.

When our fried-shallot reserves ran low, one of us would come in extra early to work to make a big new batch. It was a time-consuming project that required the cook's undivided attention and a lot of stove and counter space in an already cramped kitchen. (Of course, using a microwave can free up some space and cut down on the mess.)

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It was a rite of passage in that restaurant—every cook had made them at one point or another, and you built a reputation on the quality of your fried-shallot work. A batch of subpar, slightly greasy shallots would lead to comments like "Whoa, whoa, Chef [the sarcastic deployment of "Chef" to address a cook is one of the most cutting barbs in a restaurant kitchen], what's up with these shallots? Did Ed make these?"

Never mind that the Ed in question no longer worked there; his disappointing fried-shallot legacy lived on. I was determined not to suffer the same fate, and took pride in my crispy-allium oeuvre.

Professional cooks are a weird bunch. Hopefully there's nobody in your life who is going to talk trash if your home-cooked fried shallots aren't perfect, but, just in case, here's how to make them well.

The Slice Is Right

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As with most recipes that involve just a few ingredients, making good fried shallots is all in the details. That starts with how they're sliced. In order for the shallots to cook at an even rate and achieve a perfect crunchy texture, they need to be sliced to a specific uniform thickness. Unless you've undergone years of Arya Stark–style blade training, slicing the shallots by hand with a knife is not going to work. You'll need a mandoline for this project—trust me.

If you don't already have one, check out ourreview of the best inexpensive mandoline slicerson the market.

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The fried-shallot master who taught me how to make them always described the ideal thickness as "two credit cards pressed together." If you slice the shallots any thinner than that, they'll brown too quickly, before the water in them has been driven out and replaced by oil, resulting in a soggy, oily product. This is a problem that can also occur withpotato chips.

How many shallots you want to slice and fry is up to you, but I would say you want to use at least a pound to make the project worth your while. Properly cooked and stored, fried shallots will keep for weeks, so you don't need to worry about them going bad before they can be used up.

The Setup

With the shallots sliced into rounds, it's time to set up everything else you'll need. Once you start cooking, everything happens quickly; you'll have a very tight time window before success (golden, crunchy shallots) turns to failure (with both you and the shallots ending up in a dark and bitter place). That means youhaveto set up your fried-shallot rig before you turn on a burner.

You'll need the following: a rimmed baking sheet lined with several layers of paper towels, a container of kosher salt, a fine-mesh strainer set inside a heatproof bowl, and a utensil for stirring. I like to use a pair ofkitchen tweezers, but a fork or chopsticks will work fine.

Combine your sliced shallots and a couple inches of vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or pot that you can comfortably pick up and pour from. There needs to be enough oil to keep the shallots mostly submerged, with none of them touching the bottom of the saucepan. Before turning on the burner, stir them well to separate them into individual rings.

0 to 100, Real Quick

Fried Shallots Recipe (4)

Fried shallots are one of the few stovetop projects that I don't step away from once I start cooking (risottois another one). I cook them entirely over high heat, stirring constantly as the oil heats up and the shallots begin to cook and bubble. Constantly moving the shallots around as they cook helps them fry at an even rate.

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After a few minutes of rapid bubbling, you'll notice some of the smaller slices of shallot starting to turn a very light, straw-colored yellow. This is the beginning of the end, and it's time to really lock in and focus, as things will go really fast from here on out.

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Keep cooking and stirring as the bubbles begin to slow—this is your indicator that the water in them has been driven out and is being replaced by oil—and the shallots take on a very light golden color. Don't worry if there are a couple of pale rings in the midst; they'll catch up to the right level of coloration soon.

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Working quickly but carefully, remove the shallots from the heat right when they turn that pale golden color, and pour the contents of the saucepan into the strainer-lined bowl. The shallots end up in the strainer basket, and the hot oil in the bowl beneath it. Carryover cooking causes the shallots to continue to darken even once they're out of the oil, which is why it's important to both pull them when they're pale golden and have your setup ready to go, so that you can move quickly through the remaining steps.

Laid Out

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Still moving at a brisk pace, you'll need to transfer the shallots from the strainer to the prepared baking sheet, spreading them out in an even layer so that they aren't piled on top of each other.

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Next, season the shallots with salt before they cool down—otherwise, the salt won't adhere to them. You want well-seasoned fried shallots, not a shallot-salt mixture.

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The final step is to gently blot the shallots dry. Carefully pull the top layer of paper towels out from under the shallots, leaving the shallots on the layer beneath it, then use the top layer you've just removed to blot them. Repeat with the remaining layers of paper towels.

If the shallots were dumped out onto a single layer of paper towels, they would sit on top of the oil-saturated paper, and become greasy rather than crispy. This process allows you to gently blot and dry the shallots without crushing them into crumbs.

Once the shallots are fully dried and cooled, they're ready to go. You can enjoy them immediately, or carefully transfer them to an airtight container and store them at room temperature for weeks. For long-term storage, I like to line the container with a paper towel and a desiccant packet (homemadeor otherwise) to keep my shallots crispy.

You'll be sprinkling them on pretty much everything in no time, and maybe you'll have to find a fried-shallot hiding spot of your own to keep them safe from your housemates.

This recipe's headnote was authored by Sasha Marx, while the recipe was written and developed by J. Kenji López-Alt.

February 2013

Recipe Details

Fried Shallots

Prep10 mins

Cook15 mins

Active25 mins

Total25 mins

Serves12 servings

Makes1 1/2 cups


  • 1 pound (450g) shallots, peeled and sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds (see notes)

  • 2 cups (475ml) vegetable oil

  • Kosher salt


  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large heatproof bowl or medium saucepan.

    Fried Shallots Recipe (11)

  2. If cooking on stovetop: Combine shallots and oil in a medium saucepan or wok. Place over high heat and cook, stirring frequently, until shallots begin to bubble, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring constantly as the shallots fry to ensure even cooking, until shallots turn pale golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Working quickly, pour contents of saucepan into prepared strainer set over bowl. (Shallots will continue cooking for a brief period after draining, so do not allow them to get too dark.)

    Fried Shallots Recipe (12)

    If cooking in microwave: Combine shallots and oil in a large microwave-safe bowl, and stir with a fork to separate rounds. Microwave on high power for 5 minutes. Stir, making sure to loosen any pieces of shallot clinging to the sides of the bowl. Continue to microwave in 2-minute increments, stirring between each round, until shallots begin to turn lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes total. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each round, until evenly pale golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute 30 seconds longer. Working quickly, pour contents of bowl into prepared strainer set over bowl. (Shallots will continue cooking for a brief period after draining, so do not allow them to get too dark.)

    Fried Shallots Recipe (13)

  3. Immediately transfer shallots to prepared baking sheet, spread them out into an even layer, and season with salt. Allow shallots to drain, then carefully lift the top layer of paper towels and roll shallots onto second layer, blotting gently with the first. Allow shallots and oil to cool to room temperature, then transfer to separate airtight containers. Store fried shallots at room temperature, and shallot oil in the refrigerator.

    Fried Shallots Recipe (14)

Special Equipment

Fine-mesh strainer, rimmed baking sheet


Using a mandoline will produce the most even thickness for the sliced shallots.

Make-Ahead and Storage

Fried shallots can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two months. Fried-shallot oil can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one month.

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Fried Shallots Recipe (2024)


What is the best way to fry shallots? ›

Place shallots in a medium saucepan and pour in vegetable oil to submerge, about 1¼ cups. Set over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often with a fork to encourage rings to separate, until shallots are golden brown, 20–25 minutes. (Keep an eye on them; once they start to brown they'll darken fast.)

Why are my fried shallots soggy? ›

The fried-shallot master who taught me how to make them always described the ideal thickness as "two credit cards pressed together." If you slice the shallots any thinner than that, they'll brown too quickly, before the water in them has been driven out and replaced by oil, resulting in a soggy, oily product.

Why is my shallot not crispy? ›

You need to give enough time for all the moisture in the shallots to evaporate, because that is how cripiness happens. If the heat is too high, they will brown faster than they can crisp. During the frying you want to see a constant stream of bubbles coming out, but not too aggressively.

What's the difference between fried shallots and fried onions? ›

Are Fried Shallots The Same as Fried Onions? Shallots and onions, while in the same family of alliums, are not the same. Shallots are smaller and oblong in size, covered with a papery protective layer – similar to onions and with an inside similar to garlic cloves – and are delicate and slightly sweeter in flavor.

How long does it take to fry shallots? ›

Preparation. Put oil in a small saucepan. Add shallots and place pot over medium heat. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes (turn down heat if they seem to be coloring too quickly), until they gradually become brown.

Why do you soak shallots in water? ›

To bring out their sweetness and make them extra crisp, soak the sliced shallots in cold water before using.

Is fried shallot healthy? ›

Yes! Shallots are indeed good for you, as they are low in calories and packed with essential nutrients like vitamins A, B, and C, as well as minerals like potassium, manganese, and iron. Additionally, they contain antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties.

What can I substitute for crispy fried shallots? ›

The Best Shallot Substitutes
  1. Sweet Onions (Vidalia, Walla Walla, Maui) A grocery-store staple, sweet onions like the Vidalia can usually be substituted for shallots, if you keep a few factors in mind. ...
  2. Yellow Onions (Spanish) ...
  3. White Onions. ...
  4. Red Onions. ...
  5. Cipollini Onions. ...
  6. Pearl Onions. ...
  7. Scallions (Green Onions) ...
  8. Chives.
Mar 31, 2023

Do fried shallots go bad? ›

Once cooked, drained and completely cooled, homemade fried shallots will maintain their flavor and crispness for around two weeks, though whether they last that long will depend on your own willpower (and how good your hiding place is).

What is the tastiest shallot? ›

Gray Griselle Variety — Many people, especially in France, consider the gray or Griselle variety of shallot to be the best in terms of flavor.

Why do chefs use shallots instead of onions? ›

Why do chefs use shallots instead of onions? Some chefs favor shallots because their subtle allium flavor doesn't as easily overpower other flavors in a dish. That said, both onions and shallots are commonly used in professional kitchens, often even in conjunction.

What onion is closest to a shallot? ›

Yellow onions may be the best swap for shallots. To make the switch, you want to measure with chopped product, not whole. Shallots are much smaller than onions and both vary enough in size that just saying "medium" won't tell you much.

How many shallots equal one onion? ›

A good substitution rule to follow is three small shallots for every small onion. Happily, no matter what you choose, it will cook the same way, but your wallet will feel a bit lighter if you choose shallots — they're typically about two to three times the cost.

Do you have to peel shallots before cooking? ›

Shallots are small onions that have a mild, sweet taste and make a great substitute in recipes calling for their red or yellow cousins. Like any other onion, though, you will have to peel off the shallots' clingy skin before they can be eaten, which can be a tedious process.

Are shallots good for frying? ›

Crisp, sweet and aromatic, fried shallots are a staple condiment of Southeast Asian cuisine, frequently appearing in salads and noodle dishes, or paired with eggs and rice.

Do shallots get bitter when cooked? ›

Given their similarities, shallots and onions can be substituted for each other in cooking, but there are a few key things to remember. They both caramelize when sautéed, but shallots can become bitter if cooked over high heat, while onions will not. In this way, shallots are similar to garlic.

Why do chefs prefer shallots? ›

Why do chefs use shallots instead of onions? Some chefs favor shallots because their subtle allium flavor doesn't as easily overpower other flavors in a dish. That said, both onions and shallots are commonly used in professional kitchens, often even in conjunction.


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