Leeks are a type of onion, but they have a milder and sweeter flavor. Leeks are also much easier to chop than onions and can be used in many different types of dishes.
But what do you do when all of your leeks are gone? You need perfect leeks substitutes.
Today, I’m sharing a list of the 11 best substitutes for leeks so you can make your favorite dishes without missing out on flavor or texture!
The list of easy-to-find leek substitutes includes shallots, white onions, sweet onions, red onions, scallions, garlic, celery, and more.
These alternatives will help bulk up your recipe if it’s lacking that one vegetable or spice that would make the dish complete.
Some may not be as easy to find at the grocery store, but all can easily be substituted with other vegetables or spices without compromising taste too much!
Table of Contents
- What is Leek?
- 11 Best Leeks Substitutes
- What Does Leeks Taste Like?
- Are Leeks and Onions Interchangeable?
- 1 Leek Equals How Many Onions?
- Can I Use Fennel Instead of Leek?
- Can Spring Onions Be Used Instead of Leeks?
- What Are The Differences Between Leeks vs Scallions?
- Final Words
What is Leek?
Leek is a member of the onion family (Allium) and is a cool-season crop. Leeks are available year-round with their peak season being from September to March, depending on where they’re grown.
Leeks resemble overgrown scallions, but are longer and have solid white flesh that doesn’t turn brown when cut. The green leaves are tough and should be removed before use in cooking.
Leeks have a milder flavor than onions but pack a lot more nutrition, so you can add leeks to your recipes for more taste and fewer calories!
11 Best Leeks Substitutes
Finding substitutes for leeks is easier because they’re a part of the onion family and have many vegetables related to them.
You can use these best leek substitutes in any recipe that calls for it, just remember to adjust the amount you add if your substitutions are larger or smaller than leeks!
Let’s dive right in!
A shallot is a good substitution for leeks; they have a milder flavor and don’t have as much moisture in them, so they’ll keep your recipe from getting too watery.
In size, shallots are a lot smaller than leeks, but they still pack the same punch of flavor. They have a pleasant, unique aroma and do not alter the taste of your dish.
From sweet to spicy, shallots offer a very similar flavor profile as leeks but the intensity is slightly lower. Therefore, I’d recommend using a slightly more quantity of shallots in your recipe as compared to leeks.
You can add shallots to many types of recipes such as soups, stews, dips, and salads!
2. White Onions
White onions are about the size of your average shallot, so if you don’t have shallots on hand white onions make an excellent substitute!
These onions are milder than yellow, red, or sweet onions but can still vary in flavor depending on when they were harvested and how you cook them.
Just like shallots, white onions don’t have a lot of moisture to them so your recipe won’t be as watery with these as it would with leeks. White onions also have a lot of health benefits and can help lower cholesterol.
White onions are great if you’re making soup, cream sauce, stew, or salsa!
3. Yellow or Sweet Onions
I frequently use yellow onion in place of leeks because my grocery store carries it year-round at a fair price, even during peak season when most other types of scallions are out-of-stock.
Yellow onions are the most common substitution for leeks because they have 2-3 times more flavor than white onions. Sweet onions are also a lot bigger than leeks!
These onions are usually sweeter than their white counterparts, but the sweetness can slightly vary depending on when they were harvested and what variety you get.
Unlike white or red onions, yellow onions have more moisture so you’ll want to have a little extra oil in your recipe after adding them to it.
Make sure to watch the cooking times for any recipes with yellow onions as they may need less time in the oven than leeks would (depending on the recipe).
Yellow onions are a versatile vegetable and you can use them in all types of recipes including stir-fry, soups, stews, salad dressing & vinaigrettes, and more!
All in all, yellow onions are a great substitute for leeks because they retain their flavor even after being cooked in a recipe. They’re also very easy to find at most grocery stores, so you can stock up and keep them on hand!
4. Red Onions
Red onions have less moisture than yellow onions do so they’re not your best leek substitute if you’re making a soup or sauce.
These red onions are usually sweeter but can vary in flavor depending on how they’ve been stored and what type of variety you have (ex. Texas 1015, Bermuda, etc).
You may want to add a little extra sugar to your recipe if you’re using red onions because these do more than just add sweetness; they’ll give your recipe a little more flavor and complexity.
Red onions are great in tacos, salads, as a topping on pizzas or burgers, and even mixed into guacamole!
5. Scallions or Green Onions
Scallions or green onions or spring onions are the perfect substitutions for leeks if you’re looking to add a little spice to your recipe!
Green onions have very similar health benefits as leeks do, and they don’t carry a lot of moisture with them so they won’t alter the water content in your recipe.
You can use scallions for garnishing or as the main ingredient. I recommend cutting them into thin slices for use in salads, soups, or burgers.
I like to dice green onions and add them to my stir-frys or fried rice. They’re a great addition to any Asian dish!
Garlic is one of the most common substitutes for leeks in any type of dish.
If you’re looking to add a little spice and flavor to your recipe without using red onions, garlic is the best substitute.
When you’re substituting garlic for leeks make sure to use equal parts (one clove per leek).
This vegetable has been used throughout history for its health benefits; it can help fight colds, lower blood pressure, and even help with weight loss!
Garlic is a good substitute and a great pairing with chicken!
Celery is known for its high water content and crunchy texture. It’s a great vegetable to add to any salad, stew, soup, or casserole recipe.
Use celery in place of leeks if you’re looking to make a chicken stock or sauce; this will give your dish more of that “steamy” quality.
Celery is an aromatic vegetable; it imparts a flavor that’s best described as “pungent” or “musty”. This flavor can be hard to get rid of if you add too much celery to your recipe.
You may want to use more chicken broth in place of some of the water in your recipe when you’re substituting celery for leeks.
8. Onion Powder
Onion powder is another great substitute for leeks because it won’t alter the flavor of your recipe.
This seasoning adds a bit of spice to any dish, so you may want to use it when you’re cooking something spicy. For example, if you’re making barbecue sauce or salsa with cayenne pepper, onion powder is a good addition.
You can use one tbsp of onion powder in place of one cup of chopped leeks in your recipes.
9. Frozen Leeks
If you’re looking for another way to use leeks without having to clean them, frozen leeks are a great substitute.
Frozen leeks also have many of the same health benefits as fresh or cured ones do; they’re loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and folate.
You can thaw your frozen leeks and add them directly to your recipes; they will cook through in about the same amount of time as fresh leeks would.
10. Ramps (Wild Leeks)
Ramps, or wild leeks, have a stronger flavor than leeks do and are used more for adding flavor than texture. If you’re looking to use them in your recipe, you’ll want to make sure that there’s a strong flavor already present.
Ramps are known for their unique taste and aroma; they have an onion-garlic flavor with a hint of mustard.
Fennel is another aromatic vegetable that imparts a distinct flavor to any dish it’s added to. Its flavor is best described as “anise-like”.
When you’re substituting fennel for leeks in your recipes, make sure to use about half the amount you normally would. Fennel has a more distinct flavor than leeks do.
Fennel is a great addition to any stew or pork dish!
What Does Leeks Taste Like?
Leek is a member of the onion family and has a more subtle, sweet flavor than most onions. They have a very mild taste and flavor which is sometimes compared to onion or garlic.
Using leeks will add a subtle vegetable flavor to your recipes such as soups, sauces, and others.
Are Leeks and Onions Interchangeable?
Onions and Leeks have very similar flavors but vary in taste. You can substitute onions for leeks, but Leeks generally have a more subtle flavor.
When substituting leeks for onions, you need to adjust the amount. Onions are a stronger flavor than leeks and require less of them in your recipe.
1 Leek Equals How Many Onions?
Generally, 1 leek equals 1/2 onions in most recipes.
1/2 onion will add a subtle flavor to your recipe and if you’re looking for something that’s going to make a bigger impact, then it’s best to use more.
Can I Use Fennel Instead of Leek?
You can use fennel as a substitute for leeks in your recipes. Fennel has an anise-like taste, which is hard to describe but if you want to try to replicate it, then add green apples and cumin.
However, fennel will have more of an impact on the flavor of your dish than leeks, so you’ll want to use less of them in your recipe.
Can Spring Onions Be Used Instead of Leeks?
Yes, you can substitute spring onions in place of leeks (another great addition to the above list!)
Spring onions are not the same as regular onions and leeks. Spring onions have a more pungent flavor and are thin and long (much like leeks).
When substituting spring onions for leeks, use about 3 times the amount you normally would. You can also substitute them in place of radishes for your salads!
What Are The Differences Between Leeks vs Scallions?
Leeks are a longer form of celery. They have an oniony flavor and are commonly used in soups, stews, casseroles, and other recipes where the flavor is needed but there’s not enough time to sauté them.
Scallions (aka green onions) are suited for dishes that need more texture than leeks. They tend to have a stronger flavor and are used in dishes that need more crunch than leeks provide.
Scallions are most commonly used in salads or as a garnish for other dishes like tacos or burgers.
Do you find yourself in the kitchen without leeks? Fear not, there are many leeks substitutes that will work just as well for your recipes.
Whether it’s shallots, onions, or ramps (wild leeks), I have got a few suggestions to get you started and keep your recipe from being ruined.
Remember if all else fails, frozen leeks can be thawed then added directly to any dish with little cooking time needed on their part!
What has been your favorite substitution so far when trying out different flavors? Let me know in the comments.