Substitute for Leeks

Substitute for Leeks

Leeks have been a part of our diets for thousands of years. In fact, it was one of the most popular vegetables in ancient Egypt, dating back to at least 2,000 BC!

This hearty vegetable can be found year-round in most areas, but what if you can’t find them in your local grocery store? Is there any substitute that has the same sophisticated flavor?

Looking for the best substitute for leeks? In this post, we shed light on four alternatives you can use in your dishes without compromising flavor.

What Do Leeks Taste Like?

It’s believed that the first official recipe involving leeks was in Ancient Rome. The Apicius cookbook described leeks as a “far superior vegetable to garlic and onions.”

While the Romans’ culinary taste remains subjective, one thing is true: leeks are remarkably similar to garlic and onions.

Whether raw or cooked, leeks have a mild onion flavor complemented with a subtle touch of sweetness. There’s also a buttery aftertaste, especially when sautéed.

Best Substitutes for Leeks in 2024

Leeks come from the genus Allium, which contains numerous vegetables that are commonly used in everyday dishes. 

Some of the leeks’ most prominent relatives include scallions, shallots, and onions. If you’re looking for a substitute for leeks, you can’t go wrong with any of them.

Scallions are a good alternative for leeks

We consider scallions the smaller sibling of leeks. In fact, scallions are so small that you’ll need a handful of them to maintain the same onion flavor. For every large leek, we recommend half a dozen scallions to balance out the flavor. 

Scallions will have a sharper, spicier kick to them. They won’t offer the same sweetness found in leeks, but they can substitute leeks in most recipes while adding a touch of peppery flavor.


Shallots are one of the most commonly used substitutes for onions. However, they’re just as popular as a substitute for leeks. 

Remember, shallots are the only substitute for leeks with a more subtle taste. Substitute a large leek with three or four medium shallots to get the same onion flavor. 

What is the best alternative for leeks in potato and leek soup
What is the best alternative for leeks in potato and leek soup

See our recipe for potato leek soup.

Leeks are also used in “Tafelspitz”  – see our recipe for this Austrian Tafelspitz

Sweet Onions

We generally don’t recommend white or yellow onions as a substitute for leeks. They’re incredibly similar in terms of flavor, but they have a more intense kick to them that doesn’t work for a lot of recipes.

Instead, try sweet onions. They’re milder than white onions and closer to leeks in terms of flavor. They also share the same sweet undertones. 

Remember, sweet onions are still considerably more intense than leeks. Substitute a large leek with half a medium-sized onion and taste the dish. If necessary, add more of the sweet onion to spice up the flavor.

You can also substitute pearl onions for leaks in some recipes.

Green Onions can Substitute for Leeks

An alternative to leeks? Green onions, actually have a similar appearance to leeks only smaller.  To make up for this, you need more green onions to equal one leek. 

Green Garlic can be used as replacement for leeks
Green Garlic can be used as a replacement for leeks

Can Green Garlic be used as a substitute for Leeks

Yes, they can, although as they are much smaller you will need lots of them.

Green garlic is actually a plant of young garlic, but it is called “green garlic” because it looks like a bunch of green onions. This green garlic has not formed bulbs yet and can be chopped you. like leeks.

Can Celery be used as a substitute for leeks?

Celery can be used as a substitute for leek, but the taste will be different, it has a stronger flavor. You can use celery as an alternative for leeks in salads and soup. So in some instances, celery can replace leeks.

1 leek equals how many onions?

Leeks and onions are substituted in equal quantities – so 1 cup of sliced or diced leeks = 1 cup of sliced or diced onion.

How many cups is 1 leek chopped?

1 large leek = about 2 cups chopped

2 medium leeks = about 3 cups chopped

3 small leeks = about 3 cups chopped

4 medium leeks = about 5 cups chopped

Slice Garlic Substitutes
Slice Garlic Substitutes

So now you know what can you substitute for leeks

  • Green onion
  • Celery
  • Sweet onions
  • Scallions
  • Shallots

You can also use these as a Chinese leek substitute.

Leeks are some of the most versatile vegetables you can add to your dish. They offer a mild oniony flavor with a hint of sweetness. You can add them to soups, salads, or sophisticated dishes like stir-fried beef.

If you’re looking for the perfect alternative for leeks, consider scallions, shallots, or onions. They all offer similar flavor profiles while still being incredibly nutritious!

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