While studying French Cuisine in culinary school, I had to prepare an astonishing amount of shallots. I’m talking too many to count.
And I’m happy to say, my love for these alliums never wavered.
Whether you’re using these delicate, slightly sweet, and mildly oniony alliums in a salad dressing, marinade, quiche, dinner rolls, or beyond, I’ll share the most efficient ways to cut them.
Slice, dice, or julienne, you’ll be a shallot cutting master in no time.
Gather Your Equipment
Before you begin, you’ll need a cutting board to work on and a sharp knife.
If you want to make the task safer, consider stabilizing your cutting board. For example, place some rubber grip material or a damp paper towel under your cutting board to keep your cutting surface from sliding around.
Utility knives are smaller than a chef’s knife yet longer than a paring knife. It’s a perfect size for small vegetables and fruit, where a chef’s knife can feel cumbersome, but a paring knife is too small.
3 Ways To Cut Shallots
You’ll need to begin with a peeled shallot for all three different cutting applications.
If you haven’t already, check out Professional Chef, William Mack’s favorite method for shedding those cumbersome papery peels in no time.
Sliced shallots are perfect for creating dainty rings to caramelize, fry, or use raw. You can then incorporate the slices into a quiche, on top of a salad, or into a jammy spreadable dip for crusty bread and cheese.
Usually, shallots will have one side that is flatter than the other. Nestle the flatter side of your peeled shallot against your cutting board to create stability while you cut.
Hold the shallot at the root end with your non-dominant hand. Then, starting at the opposite tip, make thin slices through the shallot.
Continue cutting round slices until you get to the root end you are holding, which you can then discard or toss in your next batch of stock.
If you plan to caramelize these shallot rings, you can add them to your pan with the layers still intact. The rings will separate and slip apart as they cook.
If you plan on frying the shallot slices, you should separate the layers with your fingers before coating them or frying them. Simply hold the outermost ring and push your thumb through the center to pop out the inner slices.
Diced shallots are great for incorporating into salad dressings, marinades, and baked goods. I personally love adding them when making soft dinner rolls.
To dice your shallot, start by cutting your peeled shallot in half lengthwise, going through the center of the root end. If the shallot you are working with is small, you can keep it whole.
Next, lay your shallot halves cut side down on your cutting board and make a horizontal cut starting at the tip and going towards, but not through the root. Your knife will be parallel with your cutting board as you do this.
Then, hold the root end with your non-dominant hand, and create thin slices that run the length of the shallot, about an ⅛ inch each.
Again, don’t cut all the way through the root end. Keeping this piece intact will hold the vegetable together as you make your cuts.
Finally, starting at the tip of the shallot, make ⅛ inch cuts crossways to create a fine dice.
Julienned shallots are quick to make and perfect for caramelizing or frying, much like round shallot slices. This is my favorite way to cut shallots for mixing into a dip or other recipe where I want the texture of the shallot to disappear.
For this cut, you don’t want the root end intact, holding everything together. So, start by cutting off the tip and root of the peeled shallot.
Then, lay the shallot on your cutting board and slice the whole thing in half lengthwise.
Next, stabilize the shallot by placing the cut side flat on your cutting board.
Now, simply hold the shallot in place with your non-cutting hand and make ⅛ inch slices running the entire length of the shallot.
Repeat on the other half of the shallot for thin julienne strips.
How To Store Cut Shallots
To get the most longevity out of your prepped shallots, store them in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator.
They will keep this way for 7-10 days. But, using them as close to when they are cut is always best.
You can also store chopped shallots in the freezer for up to 3 months, but the texture will suffer once they’re thawed.
Pro-Tip: Caramelize your shallots ahead of time and freeze them in a spare ice cube tray. Once they are frozen, pop them out of the tray and into a freezer bag. Now you can add the mouth-watering flavor of caramelized shallots to any dish at a moment’s notice!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the fastest way to cut shallots?
Slicing shallots into rounds is the fastest way to cut them.
What is the best knife to use for cutting shallots?
Will cutting shallots make me cry?
Shallots are part of the allium family, just like onions, and they contain the same enzyme that can make you cry. To minimize the tears, briefly chill them, then use a sharp knife to cut.