substitute for leeks

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Run out of leeks and you only noticed this at the last moment? Can’t find leeks anywhere in the grocery store but you need it for a recipe? If this is you, then you need to find the best substitute for leeks right now and this post will help you do just that!

What are leeks?

Leeks are alliums that belong to the garlic, chives, shallot, and onion family. Leeks look like a larger version of green onions that are often used in salads and for garnishing .

Leeks have a flavor that is very similar to onions, although it is milder and sweeter and has more herbal overtones. When cooked, leeks have a buttery and creamy flavor that is really amazing. 

Not all parts of the leek is edible. In fact, while leeks may look like green onions, the edible park of the leek is the white and light green part, which is referred to as the stem or stalk.

The dark green part of the leek is very tough and is often discarded or set aside to be used to add flavor to stock.

Uses of leeks

Leeks are used in many different ways in cooking. The uses of leeks include:

  1. To add flavor to homemade stock
  2. To be grilled or roasted on its own 
  3. To add flavor to soups
  4. In risottos
  5. In sautées
  6. In pasta
  7. In stuffing

As you can see, leeks are quite the versatile ingredient. Plus, leeks blend well with everything and can almost become invisible in the background in some recipes.

Now, when it comes to cooking and following recipes, it is always important to try your best to find all the ingredients mentioned. Also if the recipe is something like potato leek soup for example, then you know the leeks in that recipe are a very important component and substituting it will change the flavor of the recipe.

However, if you’ve tried and can’t find leeks anywhere, or, you just don’t have the time to look for them, here are some easy ways to replace leeks in any recipe.

10 best substitutes for leeks

Frozen leeks

The best leek substitute? Leeks of course! Frozen leeks if you can’t find any fresh ones. While the flavor of frozen leeks will not be the same as fresh leeks, they can definitely be used in place of fresh leeks in many recipes. Frozen leeks are a great substitute for leeks in soups, sautés, stuffing, pastas and any other recipe that calls for leeks. Hands down the best substitute for leeks is frozen leeks!

Substitution ratio: 1 cup chopped fresh leeks = 1 cup of chopped frozen leeks


Another amazing substitute for leeks are shallots? Shallots have a mild flavor that are very similar to that of leeks and will work very well in soups, salads and dressings, and can be substituted on a 1 to1 ratio with leeks. 

Substitution ratio: 1 cup chopped leeks = 1 cup chopped shallots

Green onions or scallions

Green onions look very similar to leeks but just way smaller. Green onions, also called scallions can be used to substitute leeks in recipes like salads which call for fresh leeks or even in some stews and casserole dishes.

Their flavors are different, as scallions have a more sharp and peppery flavor while leeks have a more sweet and oniony flavor, even their textures differ as well, but, in a pinch, you can replace leeks with some fresh scallions.

Substitution ratio: 1 cup chopped leeks = 1 cup chopped scallions

White onions

These are another leek substitute for when you’re in a pinch. The flavor of white onions is sharp and pungent when raw, compared to the subtle and sweet flavor of the leeks, but it does simmer down a bit once cooked which is what you’ll want if it’s to be a good substitute for leeks in any cooked recipe. 

Substitution ratio: 1 cup chopped leeks = 1 cup chopped white onions

Red onions

Red onions aren’t as sharp and astringent in taste like most other onions. In fact they are somewhat sweet and mild, which make them a great substitute for raw leeks in salads, burgers and other raw food preparations.

Because red onions are mild and sweet, like leeks, they can easily blend into the background of a recipe save for their vibrant red color.

Red onions have a crispy taste unlike leeks which are more crunchy and firm, but other than that, red onions are a great leek substitute!

Substitution ratio: 1 cup chopped leeks = 1 cup red onions

Yellow onions

Looking for more substitutes for leeks? Look no further than these yellow onions. They have a nice balance of sweetness and but really shine as a leek replacement in recipes like stews and soups. This is so because while yellow onions cook, the strong flavor mellows out and they become sweeter.

Substitution ratio: 1 cup chopped leeks = 1 cup chopped yellow onions

Green garlic

Green garlic also called spring garlic is garlic that has not fully matured. As such, it looks like spring onions with some immature bulbs at the bottom. 

Green garlic tastes  quite mild compared to fully grown garlic and it is a great option to use instead of leeks in meals like sauces, dressing, stews and stir fry recipes. While the taste is mild, green garlic is still garlic so use it in smaller amounts than you would leeks.

Substitution ratio: 1 cup leeks = 1/2 cup green garlic

Sweet onions

Sweet onions, are milder than many other onions, and contain more water than other onions. And, while they’re still not as mild as leeks, sweet onions can be substituted for leeks in stews, soups and other cooked recipes like omelettes, stir fries, casseroles and pies.

Substitution ratio: 1 cup chopped leeks = 3/4 cup sweet onions

Wild ramps

substitute for leeks

Wild ramps, also called wild leeks are another easy way to substitute leeks in a recipe. They can be swapped on a 1 to 1 ratio. 

Onion powder

I left this one for last because I don’t usually recommend it. However, these are for situations when you’re in an absolute pinch and have nothing else on hand.

Very rarely, you can use some onion powder in place of fresh chopped leeks. The onion powder will add some flavor but will add no substance to the meal. So, therefore, it can only be substituted when there is need for leek flavor in a recipe. 

Substitution ratio: 1 cup chopped leeks = 1-2 tablespoons onion powder. 


Easy leek recipes worth making:

These are some of the easy ways you can substitute leeks in any recipe. As leeks are onion like, you can easily use ingredients like those listed above to take the place of leeks. And while many of the substitutes listed below are not as mild and do not have the exact same qualities as leeks do, they do a pretty good job as replacements for leeks.

More substitutes for…

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