4.95 from 17 votes

Caramelized Shallot Pasta (Budget Alison Roman Shallot Pasta)

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Alison Roman’s caramelized shallot pasta went viral for a reason. It's flavourful and simple. Here’s my budget recreation for 96p per portion.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
£0.96
Makes: 4
mains
American
Freezable

In 2020 the Alison Roman Shallot Pasta recipe went viral, receiving over 14,000 votes on NYT cooking, which resulted in half of instagram trying out the caramelized shallot pasta.

Close up photo of tomatoey spaghetti in a large pan topped with fresh parsley on a plae blue background.

Why this recipe went viral

I think this budget shallot pasta recipe went viral for many reasons, as this recipe was adored by so many people because it uses such a small number of ingredients, mostly pantry staple ingredients, that come together to have such a powerful flavour.

The shallot paste used to finish the recipe with, before adding to pasta, can be used in multiple recipes. You can spread it on toast, add it into a salad dressing, serve directly into salad and serve on pizza etc.

I’ve tweaked the recipe slightly to make it more budget-friendly and switched up the quantities to make this caramelized shallot pasta a bit more BTB.

Try some other spaghetti recipes after you’ve tried this one: 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Chorizo Carbonara, Lentil Bolognese and Meatball Marinara with Spiralized Courgette

Ingredients

Shallot Pasta Recipe - Ingredients laid out on a pale blue background and labelled.

Shallots
We use more shallots than Alison in this recipe as I find that most supermarkets sell bags weighing around 300g. You might think one bag is enough, but I chose to go with two bags at 600g. The sweetness of the caramelized shallots is what makes this recipe so unique, so I went for double the quantity.

Garlic
I think this recipe can take a lot of garlic. I used 5 cloves with one clove to top, but adjust this depending on your garlic preference.

Anchovies
I like to think of this recipe as a gateway anchovy recipe. We use ¼ of the amount of anchovies that Alison does as I’m using super cheap anchovies – which are really rich and umami packed but I think slightly stronger than the higher quality anchovies that she uses. This recipe does not taste fishy or like anchovies – trust me on this one!

Spaghetti
You can pair this Alison roman shallot pasta recipe with any pasta shape you like. Alison uses bucatini, but as I’m trying to make this recipe more budget friendly, I’ve gone for the budget spaghetti as you can get it for around 30p!

Tomato Puree
Essential for the depth in flavour of this recipe. We use a whole tube of tomato puree, which is not only super satisfying, but perfect to minimise waste!

See the recipe card for full information on all ingredients and quantities.

How to make this budget Alison Roman shallot pasta

  1. Start by peeling the shallots (Image 1).
  2. This may take a few minutes, until all the shallot skins are removed (Image 2).
2 step by step photos, the first with shallots on a chopping board and the second with peeled shallots on the board.

3. Finely slice the shallots (Image 3).

4. Fry gently and sweat the onions for around 10 minutes (Image 4). 

2 step by step photos, the first with sliced shallots on a chopping board and the second with the shallots frying in a pan.

5. Then add the garlic, anchovies, red pepper/chilli flakes, parsley stems and tomato paste into the pan. At the same time, add the spaghetti to heavily salted pasta water. Set your timer to 2 minutes minus the packet time (Image 5).

6. Continue to fry on a medium/low heat for another 8 minutes, stirring frequently and the paste will darken and the onions will caramelize fully (Image 6).

2 step by step photos, the first with shallotsfrying a pan with tomatoes paste added and the second with shallots and tomato paste mixed together.

7. Transfer the undercooked pasta into the pan along with 2 ladles of pasta water (Image 7).

8. Mix the spaghetti with the tomatoey shallot sauce. Serve this Alison Roman pasta recipe with finely chopped garlic/fresh parsley (Image 8).

2 step by step photos, the first with spaghetti added to the tomato sauce and the second with spaghetti mixed together.

Other recipes that went viral on TikTok for you to try; Budget Green Goddess Salad, Pizza Toast and Viral Salmon Rice Bowl

To make ahead of time/reheat

To make ahead of time
The caramelized shallot paste is perfect to make ahead, as you can store it in a jar and keep it in the fridge for up to a month.

To meal prep
You can also combine the paste with the pasta and divide the finished recipe into meal prep containers. I also steam some broccoli and divide that into the containers too. Store the parsley separately.

To reheat
When it’s time to reheat the pasta, add 1 tbsp of water into the meal prep container and reheat in the microwave on high for two minutes. Remove from the microwave and stir. Season with salt and pepper and top with the parsley/garlic mix.

Tomatoey spaghetti in a blue bowl.

Tips & Tricks

Patience
Take your time to slowly caramelise the shallots, as the slow cooking allows the shallots to release their natural sugars and develop a rich, sweet flavor.

Flavour Enhancer
Towards the end of caramelising onions, add a pinch of salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to the shallots for added depth of flavor. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences.

Pasta Water
Always remove a few ladles of pasta water before draining the pasta, this will help create your silky sauce.

Finishing touches
I added fresh parsley, but feel free to add your favorite herb and garnishes.

Other shallot using recipes… 10 Minute Vegetable Noodle Soup, 10 Minute Naan Bread Pizza and Swedish Gravy Spaghetti with Pork and Courgette Meatballs

FAQs

Can I use any pasta shape in this recipe?

Yes! Alison recommends using a longer pasta shape so preferably spaghetti, linguine, tagliatelle, bucatini etc, but I’d say you can use any shape that you feel like.

Can I use white/red onions instead of shallots?

You can, but I’d recommend reducing the quantity slightly as white/red onions are stronger and less sweet than shallots. I would recommend 2 onions if you’re subbing out the shallots. If you can though, try and stick with the shallots as it’s their sweetness that really makes this dish a 10/10.

Do I have to use anchovies? I’m scared!

I promise you that you won’t even realise they’re in this recipe. The recipe isn’t fishy at all, the anchovies just provide a salty umami boost and as they’re gently fried along with all of the other ingredients, they disintegrate into the sauce so you won’t see any visible anchovy bits.

How long does the caramelized shallot paste last?

1 month in a jar in the fridge.

If you tried this Caramelized Shallot Pasta recipe, it would be mean so much to me if you could leave a review & a star rating to let me know how you found it! I love hearing about your experiences – it motivates me to keep creating more and more recipes for you guys 💛 Let’s get cooking! – Mimi x

Caramelized Shallot Pasta (Budget Alison Roman Shallot Pasta Recipe)

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4.95 from 17 votes
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
£0.96
mains
American
Freezable
Servings: 4
Alison Roman’s caramelized shallot pasta went viral for a reason. It's flavourful and simple. Here’s my budget recreation for 96p per portion.

Ingredients

  • 600 g shallots, thinly sliced (£1.50)
  • 5 garlic cloves, 4 thinly sliced, 1 finely chopped (£0.29)
  • 4 whole anchovies (£0.50)
  • 200 g (1 tube) tomato puree (£0.34)
  • 350 g spaghetti (£0.70)
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley, leaves and stems finely chopped (£0.50)

Cupboard Essentials

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt & Pepper

Method

  • Start by adding the olive oil and thinly sliced shallots to a large stainless steel frying pan on a medium/low heat. Season generously with salt and pepper and sweat for around 10 minutes.
  • Next add the garlic, anchovies, red pepper/chilli flakes, parsley stems and tomato paste into the pan. Continue to fry on a medium/low heat for another 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • During this time, add the spaghetti to heavily salted pasta water. Set your timer to 2 minutes minus the packet time.
  • Now that the paste has darkened and the onions are looking really caramelized, transfer the undercooked pasta into the pan along with 2 ladles of pasta water. Stir to combine.
  • Serve the caramelized shallot pasta with finely chopped garlic/fresh parsley.

Notes

  • Take your time to slowly caramelise the shallots, allowing them to release their natural sugars and develop a rich, sweet flavor.
  • Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes towards the end of caramelising onions for added depth of flavor. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Before draining the pasta, always remove a few ladles of pasta water to help create a silky sauce.
  • Consider adding fresh parsley or your favorite herb and garnishes to enhance the overall dish.

Nutrition

Servings: 4 servings
Fat: 14g
Calories: 498kcal
Carbohydrates: 79g
Protein: 16g

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Thank you so much for trying my recipe! I hope you loved it. I’d be so grateful if you could leave a comment/rating - it makes my day hearing your feedback!

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