The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat shallots. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What shallots etiquette is

Shallots etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat shallots. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve shallots to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat shallots at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat shallots

What you should know about shallots

Shallots are a type of vegetable that belongs to the onion family. They have a milder flavor than onions and are commonly used in cooking for their sweet and delicate taste.

Shallots are small, elongated bulbs that have papery, copper-colored skin. The flesh of the shallot is usually white or pale yellow and has a firm texture. They have a sweet, slightly pungent flavor that is less overpowering than onions.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat shallots

1) How to store shallots

The ideal temperature to store shallots is in a cool, dry place with good ventilation, such as a pantry or cellar. You can store shallots in the fridge for up to one month or in the freezer for up to three months. In the pantry, shallots can last for up to three months.

Store sliced or cooked shallots in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days.

2) How to clean shallots

To clean shallots, remove the outer papery layer and cut off the ends. There are no significant risks associated with cleaning shallots.

Shallots that have gone bad will have a soft, mushy texture and a sour smell.

3) How to prepare & cook shallots

Shallots can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare shallots for cooking, slice off the ends and peel off the outer layers. Use a sharp knife to slice the shallot into thin pieces or chop it into small pieces. The most common ways to cook shallots are to sauté or caramelize them. Use a sharp knife or mandoline to slice shallots.

Shallots are often used in sauces, dressings, and marinades. They are also commonly used in French cuisine, such as in coq au vin or boeuf bourguignon.

Shallots can be an ingredient in salads and sandwiches. You can also use them to make sauces, jams, or preserves. Shallots are suitable for guests on a vegan, keto, or paleo diet.

4) How to serve & present shallots

Shallots are appropriate for both formal and informal meals. You can serve them as a side dish, main course, or appetizer. They are not typically served for breakfast, brunch, or as a snack.

You can serve shallots at room temperature or slightly chilled. Present them on a small plate or bowl. Use a fork or small serving spoon to serve shallots.

Shallots pair well with a variety of herbs, such as thyme or rosemary.

5) Food and wine to pair shallots with

Shallots pair well with flavors like garlic, ginger, and lemon. They also pair well with vegetables like asparagus, mushrooms, and green beans. Fruits like apples and pears also pair well with shallots. Avoid pairing shallots with overly sweet or sour fruits like oranges or grapefruit.

Shallots can be paired with certain cheeses, such as brie, goat cheese, and blue cheese. They also pair well with dairy products like butter and cream.

Shallots pair well with meats like beef, pork, and chicken. They also pair well with fish like salmon and halibut. Avoid pairing shallots with overly spicy or strong-flavored meats or fish.

Shallots pair well with red and white wines, such as Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. They can also be paired with Rosé wine, sparkling wine, dessert wine, beer, or spirits.

6) How to eat shallots

Shallots can be eaten with a fork or fingers. You should discard the peel of the shallots.

Shallots etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common shallots etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Not cleaning shallots properly before cooking or serving.
  • 7/10. Serving shallots unpeeled or with the roots attached
  • 6/10. Using too much shallot in a dish.
  • 6/10. Using a dull knife to chop shallots.

Additional information for properly serving shallots

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Shallots contain about 20 calories per ounce (28 grams) or 72 calories per 100 grams. A single shallot contains about 10-20 calories, depending on its size.

How to buy the best shallots

A crucial factor in shallots etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Shallots are available all year round, but the peak season is usually in the late summer and fall. The best time to buy shallots is during this season, when they are freshest and most flavorful.

Choose the best

Shallots can be found in commerce in various forms, including fresh, frozen, dried, and canned. Fresh shallots are the most common and are typically sold in the produce section of grocery stores.

The most popular varieties of shallots in commerce include the French Gray Shallot, Dutch Yellow Shallot, and Red Shallot. The French Gray Shallot is considered the most prized and is often used in gourmet cooking.

To buy the best shallots, look for firm, plump bulbs with dry, papery skins that are free of blemishes or soft spots. Avoid shallots that are sprouting or have green shoots, as this is a sign of age.

Alternatives to shallots

The most common alternatives to shallots include onions, garlic, leeks, and scallions. While these all have similar flavors, they do have distinct differences in taste and aroma that may affect the overall flavor of a dish.