Caramelized Shallot Pasta Recipe (2024)

By Alison Roman

Caramelized Shallot Pasta Recipe (1)

Total Time
40 minutes
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This pasta is all about the shallots, cooked down in a bath of olive oil to a jammy, caramelized paste. Tomato paste is there for tanginess, and anchovies for saltiness, but they serve more as background flavors to the sweetness of the shallot. This recipe makes enough caramelized shallot mixture for a double batch of pasta, or simply keep it refrigerated to spoon over fried eggs, or to serve underneath crispy chicken thighs or over roasted root vegetables like carrots or sweet potatoes.

Featured in: The Tomato-y, Shallot-y Pasta You Didn’t Know You Wanted

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Yield:4 servings

  • ¼cup olive oil
  • 6large shallots, very thinly sliced
  • 5garlic cloves, 4 thinly sliced, 1 finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1(2-ounce) can anchovy fillets (about 12), drained
  • 1(4.5-ounce) tube or (6-ounce) can of tomato paste (about ½ to ¾ cup)
  • 10ounces pasta
  • 1cup parsley, leaves and tender stems, finely chopped
  • Flaky sea salt

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)

546 calories; 16 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 11 grams monounsaturated fat; 2 grams polyunsaturated fat; 84 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams dietary fiber; 17 grams sugars; 19 grams protein; 874 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Caramelized Shallot Pasta Recipe (2)


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  1. Step


    Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium high. Add shallots and thinly sliced garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots have become totally softened and caramelized with golden-brown fried edges, 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Step


    Add red-pepper flakes and anchovies. (No need to chop the anchovies; they will dissolve on their own.) Stir to melt the anchovies into the shallots, about 2 minutes.

  3. Step


    Add tomato paste and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent any scorching, until the tomato paste has started to cook in the oil a bit, caramelizing at the edges and going from bright red to a deeper brick red color, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer about half the mixture to a resealable container, leaving the rest behind. (These are your leftovers to be used elsewhere: in another batch of pasta or smeared onto roasted vegetables, spooned over fried eggs or spread underneath crispy chicken thighs.)

  4. Step


    To serve, cook pasta according to package instructions in a large pot of salted boiling water until very al dente (perhaps more al dente than usual). Transfer to Dutch oven with remaining shallot mixture (or a skillet if you are using the leftover portion) and 1 cup pasta water. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the skillet to coat each piece of pasta, using a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any bits on the bottom, until pasta is thick and sauce has reduced and is sticky, but not saucy, 3 to 5 minutes.

  5. Step


    In a small bowl, combine parsley and finely chopped garlic clove, and season with flaky salt and pepper. Divide pasta among bowls, or transfer to one large serving bowl, and top with parsley mixture and a bit more red-pepper flakes, if you like.



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Cooking Notes

Bob Rosen

I'm surprised at the medium-high heat recommended for caramelizing the shallots.In my experience, shallots are much more sensitive to cooking temperature than onions — and are prone to burn if cooked too quickly.I'd suggest turning the heat down just as soon as the shallots have begun to sizzle a bit — otherwise they'll be burned well before they've fully caramelized.

Allan Rivlin

You could replace anchovies with a kalamata olive tapenade and/or reconstitute some sun-dried tomatoes in water and fine chop.

Melanie Yulman

It's tedious searching for notes from cooks who prepared the actual recipe. Questions & ideas for changes have a place here, but it's most helpful for me to hear from those who have actually used a recipe. Some sites -- Smitten Kitchen, e.g. -- let one separate comments from those who have cooked a recipe from those who have other things to say. "Most Helpful" is not quite the same. Could you revise the Cooking Notes section -- Questions, Variations, Cooked As Is, perhaps?


As one of the Instagram messengers who asked for this — with zero expectation —thank you times a million! For those asking for an anchovy substitute, that’s kinda like reading a recipe for olive oil cake and then asking what can be used instead. I’d try with a smaller amount Of anchovies — even just 1 or 2 — and work your way up. Cooked like this they somehow both disappear into subtlety while exploding with savoriness. I used to think I hated anchovies, but I don’t anymore thanks to Alison.


Any suggestions for an anchovie substitute?

Bonnie Tawse

On Instagram earlier today, Alison Roman said (in so many words) this dish is all about the anchovies so do not ask about an anchovy substitute, just make a different pasta dish.


The things you learn...Preparing this tonight. Local market had choice of Hunts Tomato Paste and Hunts No-Salt-Added Tomato Paste. With salt from the anchovies and that used in caramelization, wanted to be careful with additional salt. Bought both and decided I'd figure it out later.Back home, I checked ingredients and nutritional values. Want to know the difference between the two? The labeling! Nothing else. Otherwise identical. It's just marketing.Who'd a thunk it? Caveat emptor


Umeboshi paste (made from Japanese fermented plums) is a terrific vegan substitute for anchovies.


Serious Eats says 1 Large Shallot = 1/2 cup minced or sliced. 1 Medium Shallots = 1/4 cup minced or sliced. 1 Small Shallots = 2 tablespoons minced


i want to know how anyone can cook thinly sliced garlic, over medium heat, for 15-20 minutes without them burning to a bitter mess. no, i don't think so. i would add them maybe 5 minutes before the end of the cooking process. this is like recipes that say to cook onions until caramelized.. 10 -15 minutes. in your dreams, plan 30 - 45 or more minutes for that.


So can anybody who has had success with recipe tell me about how much in grams or ounces you need for the shallots. Large means nothing to me.It is a shame that people who write recipes like this for mass consumption can not be more specific on the amounts of ingredients.


ATK's taste test had King Oscar (tin) as the favorite brand, with Ortiz in the glass jar in 2nd. Ortiz is about $13, King Oscar less than $3.


Help! Is one shallot the whole bulb or just one of the “cloves” inside?


This was insanely good. Completely addictive, just kept wanting to go back for more long after I was full. Made it exactly according to the recipe, used spaghetti. I always thought I didn’t like anchovies until I started using NYT cooking.

Prakash Nadkarni

Anchovies are a concentrated umami source. The closest substitute is fish sauce, as Andrew points out: see Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking". The Romans' fish sauce was called Garum: after it went out of fashion, anchovies replaced it - both are fermented fish products. If you're vegan, use fermented soybean paste or miso, which are more intense than soy sauce. (Olives and capers are nice, but lack umami, which is due to savory amino acids, primarily glutamate, from a protein source.)


So i’m confused about the serving step. Am I cooking the pasta in a dutch oven with the tomato paste or a skillet?


I just couldn’t get this to work. It wasn’t about the anchovies. It was cooking it. It kind of turned into this huge clump of tomato paste. I clicked the link in the description and mine didn’t look like hers. I followed the recipe. Didn’t change anything (there’s not much to change). The only thing I noticed was that my Dutch oven was slightly smaller than hers. Idk. My tomato paste was scrotching I think. Tried adding more oil but that just made it oily.


Allison makes too big a deal of peeling those shallots in the video—this dish is pretty effortless. I don’t really know what constitutes a large shallot, so I typically use 8-10; it’s not an exact science. I definitely caramelize them on medium though, in a skillet. I usually cook my spaghetti for 7 minutes before swirling it with the shallot ragu and the pasta water. For those of you who salt your pasta water á la Samin Nosrat, hold back; you’re halfway to the sea with the anchovies!


Can’t go wrong with extra shallots in this, you’ll have more leftovers! Would recommend less than 1c of pasta water, you really just need enough to get the sauce all over your pasta.


I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Just use the whole shallot anchovy tomato mixture in the pasta. You won’t regret it.


I forgot to buy shallots so I subbed 2.5 small yellow onions. This was still delicious! The red pepper flakes were a bit too spicy for some of my family members, though, so you might want to adjust if you’re sensitive to spicy food.

Thomas Johnson

We have made this delicious recipe 15 times. We will probably make it 250 times before we die. The flavor, the ease of preparation, the power of the umami bomb all come together in a beautiful dish great for family or guests. It’s on our menu for next Sunday.


Made exactly as per the recipe (with linguine). Very, very yummy and will definitely be in regular rotation. Comes together quick and easy with regular pantry staples. Next time I will reduce chilis for my heat-averse husband, but I thought it was just right.

Jackson Condrey

Otherwise, tasted great. Sweet/savory. But the house smelled like shallots/garlic.


Outstanding! Made it exactly according to recipe and it was perfect!


Made essentially as written with the exception of the crushed red pepper due to family palates. I put grated parm on the table and am glad I did - it was otherwise quite uninteresting. I used the lesser amount of tomato paste but it still became kind of a somewhat bland tomato sauce. Ingredients certainly seem like it should have been better!


Ok, so it’s not bad, it’s just not that good. I could see how it would be delicious with less anchovies. I am a fan of them and I found this to be a mid red sauce with an OVERPOWERING taste and after bite aroma of anchovies.


That recipe is amazing. I added chicken meatballs and my bf went for the second plate.


In her "Caramelized Shallot Pasta (Alison's Version)" video, she says that the amount of shallots, by weight, should be about "a pound," or 16 oz.


This is delicious. I prepared 1/2 the recipe using 5 oz of pasta. It would be simple to adjust the anchovies, pepper flakes and garlic to your personal taste. I’m not a fan of raw garlic so would reduce it in the topping. The anchovies I used were from a jar. I agree with an earlier post to reduce the heat when caramelizing the shallots if your range burners pump out a lot of BTU’s. I settled on medium low/low for mine. I will definitely make this again.

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Caramelized Shallot Pasta Recipe (2024)


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