A member of the allium family, leeks are similar to onions and garlic, but offer a comparatively slightly milder, sweeter flavor. High in vitamins and nutrients, leeks most often make their way into soups and salads, but can be used in a range of dishes, from quiches to pasta to pizza.
However, while there’s a lot to love about leeks, they’re not always easy to get your hands on, especially if you prefer to shop fresh and local. So, if you have a recipe that calls for leeks, but no leeks, what can you use in their place?
Here are eight great substitutes.
1. Green Onions or Scallions
While scallions and green onions boast a flavor profile similar to that of leeks, they are a bit stronger and more what you think of, when you think “onion.” That said, when in a bind, and if you don’t mind the extra flavor, you can swap out your leeks for scallions.
Do note that you’ll only want to use the white and light green parts of the scallions (so not the entire thing, inclusive of the dark green bits) and you’ll have to use more overall green onions than leeks in your recipe, given the size difference between green onions and leeks.
2. Yellow or White Onions
Of course, you could just use a plain ol’ onion, which just about everyone will have on hand. However, realize that onions will be extremely potent in your dish, compared to leeks, so go easy on them.
You might want to avoid making leek-based recipes with onions if the recipe calls for a large amount of leeks (as is the case with leek potato soup), due to the onions’ much stronger flavor. Additionally, also because of the stronger flavor, you may only want to use this substitute when your recipe calls for cooking your leeks.
Shallots are a much better substitute for leeks than onions, thanks to shallots’ milder flavor that’s a cross between garlic and onion. The milder flavor makes shallots particularly suitable when making a leek recipe that calls for eating the leeks raw.
4. Garlic Scapes
If you’d prefer your leek substitute to have more of a garlicky flavor than an oniony flavor, try garlic scapes. Garlic scapes are the green stems that grow above the underground garlic bulbs (and if you’re not growing your own garlic, you’re missing out!). They offer a milder flavor than the actual garlic bulb.
5. Fennel Bulbs
If anything, fennel is not bland. Fennel provides a distinct, licorice-like flavor, but this is desirable in some instances. Maybe you’re cooking a recipe that calls for leeks, but you just want a little more flavor, something a little more interesting and unexpected.
Fennel is excellent roasted, in a salad or in a soup or stew.
But what if you want none of the flavor of leeks, but tons of texture? That’s where your mild-mannered friend celery can come in. Celery is also very affordable and readily available in instances where leeks might not be. (Celery is also a good fit for those allergic to the allium family.)
Similarly, chives are often readily available at most grocery stores and are on the affordable side. They have that mild, onion and garlic-reminiscent flavor that the allium family is known for, so they’ll work in place of leeks in a pinch.
8. Garlic or Onion Powder
Lastly, if you want something easy, mess-free, with no prep or chopping required, and you don’t care about achieving a certain texture, just go with garlic or onion powder. Be careful with how much you use, so as not to overpower your dish’s other ingredients. Otherwise, swapping your leeks for one of these two, versatile options is just another way they’ll prove their worth in your pantry.
8 Great Substitutes for Leeks
- green onions scallions
- onions white or yellow
- garlic scapes
- garlic powder or onion powder
- If you have a recipe that calls for leeks, but no leeks, use one of the ingredients above as a substitute.