5 Best Substitutes For Leeks

Looking for a good leek substitute? Whether you don’t have it on hand, can’t find it at the store, or don’t like the taste, try one of these leek alternatives instead.

Several large leeks standing upright on a shelf.

What Are Leeks?

Leeks, along with chives, garlic, onions, and shallots, are all members of the allium family. This cylindrical vegetable looks like a giant green onion. It has a long white stalk that fades into light green with long green leaves.

What Do They Taste Like?

Leeks have a mild onion flavor with a hint of sweetness when cooked but can also be eaten raw. They must be thoroughly washed before use though because dirt gets trapped inside their layers. 

How They’re Used

Many people only use the white and light green parts of the stalk in soups, frittatas, stir-fries, and risotto, but the whole vegetable is edible, including the long green leaves, so don’t throw them away. They have a delicate flavor when cooked and are delicious!

In recipes like caramelized braised leeks, where leeks are the main ingredient of the dish, there really is no substitute, but if they play a supporting role, use an ingredient from the list of substitutes below. 

5 Best Leek Substitutes

1. Shallots

Shallots are a great substitute for leeks. They have a delicate and sweet onion flavor with a hint of garlic. Thinly sliced shallots are a great alternative to leeks in soups and stews that call for the white and light green parts of the leek.

For 1 large leek, substitute 2 large shallots or 4 medium shallots in soups, stews, pasta dishes, and more.

2. Sweet Onions or White Onions

Both sweet and white onions have a stronger flavor than leeks, but their flavor mellows out when cooked. Of these two onions, sweet onions are milder in flavor, but white onions are also a good option.

The type of onion matters though. Yellow onions and red onions have a much stronger flavor that can be overpowering and isn’t the best substitute for leeks. 

Substitute 1 cup of diced sweet or white onion for 1 cup of sliced leeks in soups, stir-fries, frittatas, and pasta dishes.

3. Green Garlic

Green garlic is also part of the allium family. Its flavor is milder than fresh garlic and tastes more like an onion. Green garlic looks like a scallion, green onion, or spring onion. It has a small white bulb at the bottom (though not as big as a spring onion) and long, flat, skinny stalks at the top that range from light to dark green.

You’ll only need 1/4 cup for every 1 cup of leeks. Use in tacos, stir-fries, or soups where you don’t need a strong garlic flavor.

4. Green Onions 

As mentioned above, green onion (also called scallions) is another vegetable in the allium plant family that is very similar to leeks and is a good alternative to use in place of leeks in dishes that call for the green tops such as pea and leek greens farro risotto for a similar flavor profile and texture.

Just keep in mind that you’ll need twice the amount of green onions to substitute leek greens due to their smaller size.

5. Celery

Celery has fibrous stalks and a crunchy texture similar to leeks. When cooked, it has a mild flavor that can easily be substituted in soups, stews, and any recipe that requires sauteing sliced leeks. Avoid using the celery leaves as they have a stronger celery flavor that can affect the overall flavor of your dish.

Substitute 1 cup of sliced celery (stalks only) for 1 cup of sliced leeks.

More Alternatives That Work In a Pinch

  • Wild ramps – these are in season during a short window of time in the spring. They resemble spring onions and have a garlicky flavor that mellows out once cooked. If you can find them, they can be used as a substitute in soups, egg dishes, or pasta dishes. 
  • Bok choy – this green vegetable is a similar texture and color with a very mild flavor. You can use bok choy in place of leeks in stir-fries, frittatas, and salads.
  • Onion powder – the only time this substitute works is when leeks are used for additional flavoring as it won’t provide the same texture. 

More Ingredient Substitutes

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