Nothing is better than a nice hearty soup bursting with the flavor of onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and of course, leeks! Although it is somewhat of an unknown vegetable, leeks are perfect for adding a light, savory flavor to your dishes. Sometimes they are extremely hard to find in stores, which leads people to ask, “what makes a good substitution for leeks?”
Luckily, if you need some sort of leek substitution, there are many great options! Some of the most common substitutes for leeks include:
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
Keep reading if you are interested in learning how to substitute for leeks in your dishes!
What Are Leeks?
As mentioned, leeks are somewhat unique to most people, and can be hard to find in most stores. Leeks are vegetables that are a part of the allium family, which contains other vegetables such as onions and shallots.
Leeks grow with flattened leaves in bundles that form a large white stalk. They are pretty much edible from the base of the stalk to the tips of the leaves, and they provide a nice mild onion flavor. Although they can be used in place of things like onions, they are most commonly featured in dishes such as soups and stews.
Are Leeks Onions?
Technically, leeks are not onions, although they are a part of the onion plant family. Similarly to onions, they grow long green stalks above the ground, with dense white stalks/bulbs below or near the ground.
In terms of flavor, leeks are characterized by having a bright, mild savory flavor, akin to other plants in the allium family. In comparison to traditional onions, leeks have a more delicate and lighter flavor, making them great for garnishes in soups, salads, and stews.
What to Use Instead of Leeks
Now that we have discussed exactly what leeks are, and how they provide different flavors when compared to onions, we can talk about what ingredients can substitute for them.
Although this list contains some of the most common;y available substitutes, it certainly isn’t comprehensive, and you may be able to find a different substitute that works better for you!
Another important note is that this list refers to leeks used in all dishes. Leeks themselves have a pretty unique flavor depending on the dish they are in. For example, you may need to find specific substitutes for leeks you are using in soups, as compared to leeks you are using in salads.
Onions are one of the most common substitutes that people use in place of leeks. Because they are in the same family, onions and leeks have a lot of similarities, most importantly being that “oniony” flavor we all know and love.
In general, if you are looking for the mild flavor of leeks, onions may not be the best option, as they are more strong and pungent in comparison. On the other hand, if you are simply looking for some savory leek flavor, onions would be a great substitute.
Shallots are basically a smaller version of an onion. Additionally, shallots usually have a milder flavor, with more hints of garlic as compared to onions and leeks. Shallots are a great substitute option for leeks as they basically have all the same flavor components.
Shallots are hard to find however, so they may not be the most accessible option. Additionally, since shallots are considerably smaller than leeks and onions, you will probably need to use two or three in place of one leek.
Garlic is another common substitute for leeks. It has a characteristically savory flavor that pairs well in most dishes.
Garlic does have an extremely strong flavor, so if you are wanting something more light and delicate, it may not be the best option. On the other hand, garlic is extremely useful in dishes like soups and stir fries, and can be a great leek replacement in a pinch.
Although it may sound odd, celery is another great leek substitute. In comparison to the onion flavors, celery has a more bright, refreshing, and mild flavor. Due to this, it makes a great substitute for the more mild flavors found in leeks.
Because it doesn’t have much onion flavor to it, pairing celery with another leek substitute such as onions or shallots would be an amazing option.
5. Garlic Powder
Just like using garlic, garlic powder can be used to substitute leeks. In many cases, garlic powder is a little more mild than actual garlic itself, which makes it amazing for replacing leeks in more delicate dishes.
Garlic powder is also a great substitute because it is affordable, widely available, and can be added to almost any dish. If you are also looking to season your dishes with other spices, you could use a garlic salt!
6. Onion Powder
Onion powder is similarly beneficial to garlic powder. It is usually even more mild and leek-like, and it is available in most stores. Usually, onion powder is a little more hydrophobic, so it can sometimes be difficult to add to dishes that are dry.
Otherwise, onion powder makes a great substitute in soups, stews, stir fries, and more!
Last up on the list is chives. Chives are small shoots that come from a flowering plant in the allium family. Chives are probably the most mild option on this list, which makes them great for delicate dishes.
Chives are actually very easy to grow as well, so you could even grow and harvest them from a plant of your own!
Chives work especially good as a garnish, however they can be added to virtually any dish that you would use leeks in.
In the end, leeks are a pretty interesting ingredient to use. Although they are not well-known, they add a unique flavor that makes savory dishes even more delicious!
Unfortunately, it can be hard for some people to find leeks in stores. If that is the case, there are luckily some great substitutes. Some common substitutes for leeks include:
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
Any of these options works extremely well for replacing leeks! If you want to create a full flavor experience however, you may want to play around with combining these substitutes, or even finding some new ones of your very own!