The average leek weighs around 85-115 grams. Leeks can vary quite a bit in size though, with some smaller leeks weighing as little as 50 grams and larger leeks weighing up to 150 grams.
What is a leek?
A leek is a vegetable that is part of the Allium family, along with onions, garlic, shallots, and scallions. Leeks have a mild, sweet, onion-like flavor.
The edible part of a leek is a bundle of leaf sheaths that is sometimes called a stalk or stem, but is technically a pseudostem. The leaves fan out from this pseudostem. Leeks are grown by planting them deep in trenches or holes and gradually filling the holes as the leek grows. This causes the leeks to blanch, with the buried portions turning white. Only the white and light green portions of the leek are eaten.
Factors that affect leek size and weight
There are several factors that can affect the size and weight of leeks:
- Variety – There are many different varieties of leeks that are bred to mature at different sizes. Smaller varieties may only reach 50-75 grams while larger varieties can reach 150 grams or more.
- Growing conditions – Leeks grown in ideal conditions with rich soil, proper spacing, and adequate water and sunlight will generally be larger and heavier.
- Time of harvest – Leeks can be harvested at different stages of maturity. Baby leeks harvested earlier in the season will weigh less than full size leeks harvested later.
- Part of the leek used – Only the white and light green parts of a leek are eaten. Trimmed leeks weigh less than untrimmed leeks.
- Environmental stresses – Issues like pests, diseases, drought, or nutrient deficiencies can stunt leek growth and result in smaller, lighter leeks.
Typical size and weight ranges for leeks
The most common size ranges for trimmed, mature leeks are:
- Small – 50 to 85 grams
- Medium – 85 to 115 grams (average leek size)
- Large – 115 to 150 grams
- Extra large – Over 150 grams
When looking at averages, most sources cite the typical mature, trimmed leek weight as being 85 to 115 grams, so right around 100 grams or 3.5 oz on average.
However, leeks can exhibit quite a bit of size variability even within the same variety and growing conditions. It’s not uncommon to see mature leeks range anywhere from 50 grams up to 150 grams depending on factors like soil quality, planting density, and genetics.
Distribution of leek sizes and weights
While the most common leek size is around 85-115 grams, leek sizes are actually distributed along a bell curve if you look at a large sample size:
- Very few leeks weigh less than 50 grams or more than 150 grams
- The majority of leeks will weigh between 75 grams and 125 grams
- The average of 85-115 grams sits in the middle of the bell curve
This means that in any given leek harvest, you can expect:
- About 68% of leeks to weigh between 75 and 125 grams
- 95% of leeks to weight between 50 and 150 grams
- Only about 2.5% of leeks to weigh less than 50 grams or more than 150 grams
So while leek sizes can vary quite a bit, most will congregate around that ideal average size of 85-115 grams.
Typical uses for different leek sizes
The culinary uses for leeks often depend on their size:
- Small leeks (under 85g) – Best used whole or halved in soups, stocks, and braises. Too small for stuffing.
- Medium leeks (85-115g) – Good all-purpose size. Can be cooked whole, halved, or chopped. Ideal for stuffing.
- Large leeks (over 115g) – Best when chopped and cooked. Too fibrous to use whole. Work well sliced into rounds.
- Extra large leeks (over 150g) – Usually need to be chopped or sliced. Can be fibrous when cooked whole.
Chefs typically want medium leeks in the 85-115 gram range since they provide the most versatility in the kitchen. But recipes can be adjusted to work with different sizes when needed.
Estimating leek sizes
When shopping for leeks, you can get a rough idea of their size and potential weight by looking at:
- Diameter of the leek – Larger diameter usually means a heavier leek.
- Amount of useable white and light green stem – More stem generally equates to more weight.
- Overall length – Longer leeks tend to weigh more.
An experienced cook can visually estimate the weight of a leek within about 10-20 grams. But the only way to know the exact weight is to use a scale.
To determine the actual weight of a leek, you will need to:
- Trim off the dark green leaves, leaving just the white and light green portions.
- Chop off and discard the hairy root end of the leek.
- Rinse the leek well to remove any dirt trapped between layers.
- Shake off excess moisture and pat dry.
- Weigh the prepped leek on a kitchen scale.
This will give you an accurate weight in grams or ounces. Track the weights of your leeks over a season and you’ll have a good dataset to know their average weight and size distribution.
Average weights of leeks by variety
Below are some common leek varieties and their typical mature weights:
As you can see, varieties like King Richard and Pandora are bred to hit different weight targets. But even within a variety, there is quite a bit of variability.
Uses for leeks by weight
Here are some general guidelines for using leeks of different weights:
|Leek Weight||Best Uses|
|50-85g||Soups, broths, braises|
|85-115g||Roasting, grilling, stuffing, stir-frying|
|115-150g||Slicing, chopping, dicing, pureeing|
|Over 150g||Chopping, pureeing|
Yield of trimmed leeks
When working with leeks in the kitchen, it’s useful to know how much useable material you will end up with once trimmed and cleaned. Here are some typical yields:
- 1 medium leek (110g) = about 1 cup chopped
- 1 lb leeks (5-6 medium) = about 4 cups chopped
- For every 1 lb untrimmed leeks, expect to yield approximately 3/4 lb trimmed leeks
Trimming and cleaning removes about 25-30% of the leek’s total weight. So plan accordingly when shopping and prepping leeks to end up with the amount you need for recipes.
To maintain freshness and prevent sprouting, leeks should be stored properly:
- Unwashed leeks can be kept refrigerated in plastic bags for 1-2 weeks.
- Washed and chopped leeks will last 3-5 days refrigerated.
- Blanched leeks can be frozen for 4-6 months.
Avoid leaving leeks at room temperature as they will deteriorate quickly. Store any unused portions promptly in the refrigerator.
Cooking with leeks
Leeks are very versatile in the kitchen. Here are some tips for cooking with leeks:
- Slice leeks into rounds or half moons to use as a base for soups, stews, and braises.
- Leave whole or halve and grill, roast, or braise as a side dish.
- Chop and sauté as an aromatic for risotto, frittatas, pasta, and more.
- Split larger leeks lengthwise and stuff with meat, fish, cheese, or vegetable mixtures.
- Substitute for onions in most recipes for a more delicate flavor.
Leeks pair well with cheeses, fish, poultry, potatoes, and herbs like dill and parsley. Their versatility and subtle flavor make them a great addition to many dishes.
Leeks are highly nutritious, providing fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the key nutrients found in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of chopped, boiled leeks include:
- Calories: 61
- Carbs: 14g
- Fiber: 1.8g
- Sugar: 4g
- Protein: 1.5g
- Vitamin K: 52% DV
- Vitamin C: 12% DV
- Vitamin B6: 9% DV
- Iron: 11% DV
- Manganese: 7% DV
Leeks are especially high in the antioxidants kaempferol and quercetin, which have been linked to reduced inflammation and lower risk of chronic disease.
Most leeks weigh between 85-115 grams when fully mature and trimmed. But leek sizes can range quite a bit from 50 to over 150 grams depending on the variety and growing conditions. Heavier leeks may need to be chopped while smaller ones can be used whole. Leeks are versatile vegetables that add great flavor and nutrients to many dishes.