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Shallots vs. Onions — Nutritional and Usage Differences

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on December 23, 2023
Medically reviewed by Elen Khachatrian Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Onion
vs
Shallot

Summary

Shallots are richer in fiber, copper, manganese, phosphorus, iron, potassium, vitamin C, B6, and folate. Overall, shallots are more nutritious than onions (yellow onions). Shallots are sweeter and have a milder taste. Shallots are richer in phytochemicals. 

Introduction

This article is a comparison between shallots and onions. You might ask, "What's the difference between them?" They have several differences, primarily based on culinary usage, taste, and flavor. In addition to these, there are nutritional differences that we will be tackling in this article. 

Nutritional content comparison

This article compares 100g of yellow onions to 100g of shallots

Calories

Shallots are higher in calories compared to onions. 

Shallots contain 72 calories, whereas onions contain 40 calories. 

Carbs and fiber

Shallots are higher in overall carbs. However, they contain nearly twice the amount of fiber of onions. 

Fat and protein

Their fat and protein content is negligible

Oxalates

Onions contain 5mg of oxalates, whereas shallots do not contain oxalates. They have negligible amounts of oxalates. 

Minerals

Shallots have a richer mineral profile. It is richer in all minerals compared to onions. Shallots are significantly richer in copper, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and potassium. 

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Onion
1
:
Contains less Sodium -66.7%
Contains more Calcium +60.9%
Contains more Iron +471.4%
Contains more Magnesium +110%
Contains more Phosphorus +106.9%
Contains more Potassium +128.8%
Contains more Zinc +135.3%
Contains more Copper +125.6%
Contains more Manganese +126.4%
Contains more Selenium +140%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 7% 8% 8% 13% 13% 1% 5% 14% 17% 3%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 12% 45% 15% 26% 30% 2% 11% 30% 39% 7%
Contains less Sodium -66.7%
Contains more Calcium +60.9%
Contains more Iron +471.4%
Contains more Magnesium +110%
Contains more Phosphorus +106.9%
Contains more Potassium +128.8%
Contains more Zinc +135.3%
Contains more Copper +125.6%
Contains more Manganese +126.4%
Contains more Selenium +140%

Vitamins 

Shallots are richer in vitamins B1, C, B6, and folate. 

Overall, shallots contain more nutrients regarding their macros, vitamins, and minerals. 

Health Impacts

Onions are associated with anticarcinogenic, antibacterial, antithrombotic, and antiallergic properties.
Overall, you can expect to treat cancer with onions. However, lifelong proper nutrition reduces the risk of developing cancer (1). 

In comparison, shallots have been shown to have antioxidative and antiallergic activities. In addition, the consumption of shallots has been shown to have positive effects on the cardiovascular system and in the control of blood glucose levels in diabetes (2)(3)(4).

Raw shallots and raw onions are excellent vegetables to eat. 

The health benefits of both onions and shallots are derived from phytochemicals such as quercetin, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, and organosulfur. 

Shallots have a richer phytochemical profile than onions (5). From these are flavonoids, quercetin, phenolic compounds, and organosulfur.

General Differences

Usage

Onions are often used in stir-fry dishes and stews and overall in cooking. Shallots have a different flavor profile that can be used in garnishing, salad dressing, and sauces (vinaigrette).

In a recipe where you must caramelize onions, it's best to use shallots. This is mainly because shallots contain more carbs and sugars. 

For French onion soups, yellow onions are mainly used.

You can read about onion vs. garlic in this article. 

Taste and flavor

Shallots are smaller and have a sweeter, milder taste with a hint of garlicky (alliums) flavor. Onions are more pungent

They are both members of the allium family. 

Substitutions 

Well, you can substitute onions and shallots. However, the flavor profile of the dish might change. 

For example, swapping onions with shallots will add sweetness to salads. 

You can read about chives vs. scallions in this article. 

To prepare vegetable broths, you can use onions, shallots, white onions, red onions, leeks, and onion peel. 

Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: December 23, 2023
Medically reviewed by Elen Khachatrian

Infographic

Onion vs Shallot infographic
Infographic link

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Onion
1
:
10
Shallot
Contains more Vitamin B2 +35%
Contains more Vitamin A +100%
Contains more Vitamin E +100%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +30.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +72.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +135.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +187.5%
Contains more Folate +78.9%
Contains more Choline +85.2%
Contains more Vitamin K +100%
Equal in Vitamin C - 8
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 1% 1% 0% 25% 12% 7% 3% 8% 28% 15% 0% 4% 1%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 1% 1% 0% 27% 15% 5% 4% 18% 80% 26% 0% 7% 2%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +35%
Contains more Vitamin A +100%
Contains more Vitamin E +100%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +30.4%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +72.4%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +135.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +187.5%
Contains more Folate +78.9%
Contains more Choline +85.2%
Contains more Vitamin K +100%
Equal in Vitamin C - 8

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Onion
1
:
Contains more Water +11.7%
Contains more Protein +127.3%
Contains more Carbs +79.9%
Contains more Other +128.6%
Equal in Fats - 0.1
9% 89%
Protein: 1.1 g
Fats: 0.1 g
Carbs: 9.34 g
Water: 89.11 g
Other: 0.35 g
3% 17% 80%
Protein: 2.5 g
Fats: 0.1 g
Carbs: 16.8 g
Water: 79.8 g
Other: 0.8 g
Contains more Water +11.7%
Contains more Protein +127.3%
Contains more Carbs +79.9%
Contains more Other +128.6%
Equal in Fats - 0.1

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Onion
0
:
Contains less Saturated Fat -59.5%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +129.4%
Equal in Monounsaturated Fat - 0.014
58% 18% 24%
Saturated Fat: 0.042 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.013 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.017 g
24% 20% 56%
Saturated Fat: 0.017 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.014 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 0.039 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -59.5%
Contains more Polyunsaturated fat +129.4%
Equal in Monounsaturated Fat - 0.014

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
Onion Shallot
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Glycemic Index ok
Lower in price ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Onion Shallot Opinion
Net carbs 7.64g 13.6g Shallot
Protein 1.1g 2.5g Shallot
Fats 0.1g 0.1g
Carbs 9.34g 16.8g Shallot
Calories 40kcal 72kcal Shallot
Fructose 1.29g Onion
Sugar 4.24g 7.87g Onion
Fiber 1.7g 3.2g Shallot
Calcium 23mg 37mg Shallot
Iron 0.21mg 1.2mg Shallot
Magnesium 10mg 21mg Shallot
Phosphorus 29mg 60mg Shallot
Potassium 146mg 334mg Shallot
Sodium 4mg 12mg Onion
Zinc 0.17mg 0.4mg Shallot
Copper 0.039mg 0.088mg Shallot
Manganese 0.129mg 0.292mg Shallot
Selenium 0.5µg 1.2µg Shallot
Vitamin A 2IU 4IU Shallot
Vitamin E 0.02mg 0.04mg Shallot
Vitamin C 7.4mg 8mg Shallot
Vitamin B1 0.046mg 0.06mg Shallot
Vitamin B2 0.027mg 0.02mg Onion
Vitamin B3 0.116mg 0.2mg Shallot
Vitamin B5 0.123mg 0.29mg Shallot
Vitamin B6 0.12mg 0.345mg Shallot
Folate 19µg 34µg Shallot
Choline 6.1mg 11.3mg Shallot
Vitamin K 0.4µg 0.8µg Shallot
Tryptophan 0.014mg 0.028mg Shallot
Threonine 0.021mg 0.098mg Shallot
Isoleucine 0.014mg 0.106mg Shallot
Leucine 0.025mg 0.149mg Shallot
Lysine 0.039mg 0.125mg Shallot
Methionine 0.002mg 0.027mg Shallot
Phenylalanine 0.025mg 0.081mg Shallot
Valine 0.021mg 0.11mg Shallot
Histidine 0.014mg 0.043mg Shallot
Saturated Fat 0.042g 0.017g Shallot
Monounsaturated Fat 0.013g 0.014g Shallot
Polyunsaturated fat 0.017g 0.039g Shallot

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Onion Shallot
Low Fats diet Equal
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet ok

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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
8%
Onion
14%
Shallot
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
8%
Onion
21%
Shallot

Comparison summary

Which food is richer in minerals?
Shallot
Shallot is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Shallot
Shallot is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.025g)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Shallot
Shallot is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food is lower in Sugar?
Onion
Onion is lower in Sugar (difference - 3.63g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Onion
Onion contains less Sodium (difference - 8mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Onion
Onion is lower in glycemic index (difference - 15)
Which food is cheaper?
Onion
Onion is cheaper (difference - $0.1)
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Onion - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170000/nutrients
  2. Shallot - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170499/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.