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The 11 Best Substitutes for Leeks

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We have several great ideas if you're wondering what to substitute for leeks!

Leeks are a delicious plant in the allium family (along with onions). They have a light onion flavor that's delicate and a little sweet. The white and light green parts are typically eaten, and the dark green sections are discarded.

Leeks are typically available year-round but are at their peak in the cooler season (autumn to early spring). If you can't find them at the grocery store or don't have them on hand for a recipe you want to make right now, here are a few good substitute options.

Here are the best substitutes for leeks!

A large leek on a marble background.
A large leek.

Best Leek Substitutes

If a recipe calls for fresh leeks and you don't have any on hand, don't worry; there are many great substitution options for you!

A bunch of scallions.

1. Green Onions/Scallions

Green Onions (also called scallions) are one of the best substitutes for leeks because they are available at almost every grocery store. When you can't find leeks, you'll probably still be able to find scallions.

Scallion greens have a very similar delicate flavor to leeks and can be used in the same way. Similar to leeks, the white parts should be cooked as they have a stronger onion flavor, but unlike leeks, you don't have to cook the green parts.

If leeks are a main ingredient in your recipe, green onions will probably be the best substitute.

A spring onion.

2. Spring Onions

Spring onions are the same plant as green onions; they are just older and have a slightly more developed bulb/root end.

They are a good alternative because they have a similar flavor profile to green onions and leeks. However, the white bulb has a stronger oniony flavor and should be cooked.

The green stems of a spring onion can be used exactly like leeks.

A white onion.

3. White Onions

A white onion can be a good substitute for leeks. It has a strong, sharp onion flavor and is readily available in almost every grocery store.

White onion has a strong flavor and is only a good substitute when cooked. I recommend using white onions in baked goods, soups and stews, and casseroles.

A knob onion.

4. Knob Onions

Knob onions are immature onions, picked before the larger onion forms. Their flavor is in between a scallion and a regular onion. They have a little sharpness but are better raw than a regular yellow or white onion - making them a great substitute for leeks.

Knob onions are delicious when cooked, and the greens can be sliced and used instead of leeks. They can be a little harder to find at regular grocery stores and might only be available at farmer's markets in your region.

5. Green Garlic

Green garlic is an immature plant picked before the bulb can form. They have a wonderful strong garlic flavor and pack a punch of flavor.

They shouldn't be used in equal quantities to leeks in a recipe. I'd use half the amount of green garlic - so if a recipe calls for a whole leek (about 1 cup of chopped leeks), I'd use ½ cup of chopped green garlic.

Two shallots.

6. Shallots

Shallots grow in clusters similar to garlic and vary in color from green to dark red.

They have a delicate, leek-like flavor and cook very similarly. Use them exactly as you'd use leeks and in the same amounts.

A bunch of ramps.

7. Wild Ramps

Ramps are a special spring allium (also called wild garlic, wild leeks, and wild onion) that can typically be found foraging or at farmer's markets.

They have a delicious onion and garlic flavor. The stems can be finely chopped, like chives, and used either fresh or cooked. They are a perfect option to use as a 1 to 1 substitute for leeks - if the recipe calls for ½ cup of leeks, use ½ cup of chopped ramps.

Ramps obviously won't work as a substitute year-round for leeks, as their growing season is from late April to early June.

A red onion.

8. Red onions

Red onions have a deep purple or reddish flesh and a relatively mild flavor with a small onion bite.

When cooked, they lose most of their color, so they are often used raw. Use them in place of leeks in salads and other fresher preparations.

A large head of bok choy.

9. Bok Choy

Bok choy (or pak choi) is a type of Chinese cabbage. Both the leaves and stalks can be eaten, and they are delicious vegetables with subtle flavors.

Bok choy has a fresh, grassy flavor and a crunchy texture - although it is very tender when steamed or sauteed. While it has a milder taste than leeks, it can be a good substitute in stir-fries, rice dishes, curries, and more.

A yellow onion.

10. Yellow Onions

Yellow onions can be a substitute for leeks in some dishes. They have a delicious mild onion flavor but are still a little stronger tasting than leeks.

I highly recommend only using them in cooked dishes. They can be used as a 1 to 1 substitute for leeks. Additionally, a medium yellow onion will yield about the same amount as a chopped leek (typically 1 cup of chopped onion).d

Pearl onions in a small white bowl.

11. Pearl Onions

Pearl onions are small white onions harvested when they are very small - usually the size of a marble.

They have a milder flavor and taste similar to a leek, making them a great alternative. When sold in jars, they are often pickled (like the photo above), so if you want ones with fresher flavors, buy them frozen or fresh.

If you are using fresh pearl onions, use a 1-to-1 substitution ratio with leeks. Use half the amount called for if you use pickled pearl onions.

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