How to cut shallots

Shallots are a gift to the cooking world and they are great to use if you know how to cut them. Photo: Mary Payne Moran

Los Angeles, California, September 20, 2011

Shallots are a gift to the cooking world and they are great to use if you know how to cut them. A relative of the onion, the shallot is basically a smaller onion with a sweeter, milder flavor. Unlike onions, which grow in a single bulb, shallots form in clusters in a manner similar to garlic. When learning to cut them, it’s important to understand the basic configuration of them.


Peeled shallot.

Remove the top and bottom of the shallot by using a sharp paring knife. Then use your knife to make a small shallow slice from top to bottom on one side so you can easily remove the skin of the shallot. Use your fingers to peel the skin.  Sometimes you will notice the skin removes easily from the larger bulb but not the smaller one. Again, take your knife, make another small shallow cut from top to bottom and release that skin from the smaller bulb. Separate the two, sometimes three, bulbs from each other.

You can dice it, slice it or braise it!

When cutting the shallot, it’s best to cut with the curve of the shallot bulb. For a sliced shallot, first cut with the curve and then along the grain of the shallot.

Next, for a diced shallot, cut against the grain of the shallot after you have sliced it. 


Sliced shallot.

If slicing and dicing aren’t what you’re looking for another great way to cut shallots is into ovals/circles.  This is easily done by starting at one of the cut ends and making a straight cut across. When the cut shallot is removed from the whole it stays in tact and is a natural oval/circle.

Last, but not least, once you remove the skin and separate the individual bulbs, you can braise the shallots whole.  In a shallow dish, fill the pan with two-thirds ?  liquid (vinegar and oil, wine and water, lemon, wine and water) and cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Braise on 325 for 45 minutes to an hour.

After you cut them or buy them what can you do with them? Pretty much anything. You can use shallots like you would garlic. They  can be added to any of the same dishes for an extra layer of flavor. OR you can actually use shallots as part of the dish.

Diced shallot.


Shallots are not uncommon and can be bought in most grocery stores and any way you cook them, they’re a tasty treat. You can purchase them with the skin on or with the skin off. Keep in mind, though, unpeeled shallots stay fresher longer.

So whether you’re slicing, dicing or braising, shallots are a tasty treat.  They’re intimidating at first but, after you learn how to cut and use them, they have a softer flavor than garlic and a more interesting flavor than onions and will be well received in any dish.

Good Luck!


For more great cooking tips, recipes and stories from Chef Mary, visit her blog. To learn more about Chef Mary, check out her Hail Mary’s, Inc. Web site. E-mail questions for Ask Chef Mary Fridays to or click the Ask Chef Mary link above. 

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The information provided is general information about healthy eating. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice or treatment that may have been prescribed by your physician or other health care provider. Always consult a physician before starting any new diet or regimen. 


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Mary Moran

Upon graduating from the California School of Culinary Arts in 2002, Chef Mary Payne Moran began her professional career shelling crabs at the world-renowned restaurant, Michael's in Santa Monica.  Simultaneously, she launched her own company, Hail Mary’s, founded upon the belief that good food nurtures the soul, and began catering weddings, parties and large corporate events.

In the fall of 2008, Mary began teaching her culinary skills to others.    Currently she can be found at Hollywood School House teaching her after school cooking class, and teaching her popular "Vegetables or Not Here I Come" assembly.

Most recently, Mary has launched another division in her company as well as a chef she is now also a Certified Nutritionist for high profile clients.  She helps her clients discover their healthy way of eating.  Mary has recently been published in the Los Angeles Magazine, & The New Jersey Star Ledger.

Daily she addresses cooking aficionados through her blog - Cooking with Chef Mary as well as her how-to webisodes on You Tube.

Contact Mary Moran


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