How to Make Perfectly Crispy Fried Shallots—Without Flour

January 20, 2016

Confession time: I could eat fried onions—the kind that come in a tin at the grocery store and crown green bean casseroles—by the handful, but I have a hard time making them at home.

They're either burnt to a crisp or helplessly oil-drowned—there seems to be no happy medium.

Leave it to our Test Kitchen Manager Josh Cohen to find a way to make crispy fried shallots that look like they're dredged in a perfectly light flour—even though they aren't.

Here's how:

  1. Slice the shallots so that they're super thin (Josh uses a mandoline to ensure uniform thickness and even cooking).
  2. Place them in a pan of room temperature canola oil (or another neutral oil).
  3. Turn the heat up to high and watch the shallots bubble (first you'll see small bubbles, then more rapid ones will appear): That's the water evaporating off.
  4. Then lower the heat to medium. When the bubbles subside, it signifies that the moisture has cooked off the shallots (and they should look golden brown).
  5. Transfer the shallots to a paper towel-lined surface to cool completely. Your shallots will look like they've been flour-dredged and fried, but you'll know how much easier it really was.

Use to top soups, lentil stews, chili, baked potatoes... Or snack on them just as they are.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • adelle
  • Catherine Regina Cheng
    Catherine Regina Cheng
  • Kate Williams
    Kate Williams
  • Rebecca Zicarelli
    Rebecca Zicarelli
  • D
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


adelle September 25, 2019
I know it has been asked already, but didn't see an answer. How long will they stay crispy for?
Catherine R. December 9, 2018
How long do these stay crispy?
Kate W. December 6, 2018
How far in advance can you make these?
Rebecca Z. January 21, 2016
How much oil? Just deep enough to cover?
Sarah J. January 21, 2016
It doesn't need to cover the shallots—just enough to coat the bottom of the pan!
D January 21, 2016
I recently watched an episode of ATK (or Cooks Country?) where JCD used onions that had been salted, microwaved, rinsed and then dried w/paper towels before shallow-frying using this cold oil start method.
Sarah J. January 21, 2016
Now *that* is dedication.
Ron M. January 20, 2016
Nice article. Would it help to squeeze out some of the liquid before frying them? I've been doing that with potatoes for hash browns, and it makes it so much easier to brown the hash browns nicely without burning them.
Sarah J. January 20, 2016
I haven't tried doing that, but I think it would help (it's similar to drying out vegetables before roasting them in the oven: When less energy is devoted to evaporating the water, the food browns more quickly.
D.J. January 20, 2016
Would this work with regular onions, too? Or is the composition of shallots unique to this shortcut?
Sarah J. January 20, 2016
Just make sure to slice them really thinly (a mandoline works well!) and you should be good to go.
Leandra January 20, 2016
Caroline L. January 20, 2016