Chives vs Green Onions vs Scallions: What’s the Difference?

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Denisse Modified: September 6, 2022
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Chives, green onions, and scallions are three of the most used and often confused garnishes ever to exist. These little greens are popular ramen toppings and are key ingredients in most recipes. But somehow, it could get confusing to figure out which is which. So, let’s put the chives vs green onions vs scallions discussion to rest and figure out how exactly they are different. And oh, if they can also be interchangeable? Let’s find out! 

Chives vs Green Onions vs Scallions: Differences Explained

infographics differentiating green onions or scallions vs chives

Chives, green onions, and scallions may look entirely the same at first glance but they have subtle differences.

While they all belong to the same vegetable family, chives are from different plant species and are grouped in the herbs category alongside parsley, oregano, and thyme.

Green onions or scallions, on the other hand, are essentially the same plant; they’re classified as vegetables and are most commonly used for cooking.

Wondering if chives and green onions are the same? Or if scallions are also green onions? Here’s a guide for you:

Green Onions Or Scallions Have White Bulbs, Chives Don’t

green onions

Green Onions

Are green onions and scallions the same thing? Yes! They both come from the same plant and they look completely alike. Their only difference is age and harvest time. Scallions are younger than green onions and once harvested, you’ll notice a slim white bulb below unlike green onions with a slightly wider bulb.

scallions

Scallions with bulb and roots

So how about chives and green onions, are they the same? The simple answer is no. Green onions or scallions are thicker than chives. They are long but hollow whereas chives are long and thin. One good way to tell chives vs scallions apart in the grocery is to spot bulbs. Scallions have small narrow bulbs at the bottom. Chives also have small bulbs, but they are often removed before packing.

fresh chinese chives

Fresh Chinese Chives or Garlic Chives

Probably the most obvious feature that sets them apart is the overall look and color. Scallions have a tender green top with dark green leaves and a stiff white stalk at the bottom. Chives, on the other hand, are completely green. Additionally, other varieties of chives such as garlic chives have flat leaves while common chives you normally see at the market have round and hollow leaves.

Slightly Different Taste

dish in a bowl garnished with green onions

Most people don’t know what chives taste like or if chives and green onions taste the same. It’s a constant question we bring up every time there’s a discussion between chives vs green onions vs scallions especially since they look similar when chopped. Aside from looking alike, these three also share the same mild oniony flavor. However, they still have quite a difference in terms of intensity.

Chives are just overall milder and more delicate tasting than scallions or green onions. Meanwhile, green onions or scallions have a tender green top with leaves that taste fresh and mild. Its stiff white stalk imparts a pungent flavor close to regular onions.

READ ALSO: Can You Freeze Onions? Yes, Here are 2 Easy Ways!

How They’re Used

Teriyaki Pork Stir Fry Recipe, crispy pork with homemade teriyaki sauce and green onions

Now that you’ve figured out how they differ in appearance and taste, you may wonder which of the three suits best for your recipe and when exactly to use them.

Chives are less pungent than green onions or scallion making them the perfect garnish for recipes such as dips or spreads, baked potatoes, omelets, or a loaded baked potato soup. If you are planning to use chives for cooking, be careful not to overcook them or they will lose their flavor.

Now, for chopped green onions or scallions, you can enjoy them either raw or cooked. But if you are planning to add them to a stir-fried dish such as Szechuan shrimp, try slicing them about an inch bigger to add more depth to your dish. For Asian sesame chicken salad or other salad servings, you can slice them thinly for added flavor and presentation.

They Can Be Substituted for Each Other

Can you substitute green onions or scallions for chives? The answer is yes. Green onions are the next best option if you run out of chives. Just trim the green parts on top and chop them similar to how you normally chop chives.

Since they both have the same green color and mild flavor, there won’t be that big of a difference. Just make sure to substitute in a ratio of one to one. One tablespoon of chives is equal to one tablespoon of green onions. However, be careful to not add more green onions because they taste a little stronger than chives.

On the other hand, green onions or scallions can be interchangeable as they are the same thing.

Leeks vs Green Onions Or Scallions

leeks

Leeks

Now, how about leeks vs green onions or scallions? Though they both belong to the onion family, the two are different plant species. Unlike green onions or scallions, leeks are larger and are often harvested with stalks that could go from 12 to 18 inches tall and 2 inches in diameter. Meanwhile, scallions are about 12 inches long and are only ½ inch in diameter making them thinner. Scallions can grow tall for up to 3 feet but given the diameter, they’re still much smaller compared to leeks.

How To Store Chives And Green Onions Or Scallions

More often than not, a recipe only requires a pinch or at least a tablespoon of chives and green onions or scallions. However, markets usually sell them in bunches or packs, making it extra challenging to keep them fresh until the next time you hit the kitchen.

Since these are fresh ingredients, they are more prone to drying and wilting. It is essential to store them properly so you can use the entirety of them even after two weeks.

The best way to store and keep them fresh until the next cooking session is by simply putting them in a bag and in the fridge. The extra care you can do is by placing them in paper towels. This is better especially if they were already cut in half and the roots are completely off. By doing the paper towel method, you are preventing excess moisture that may eventually cause rotting.

Carefully place the paper towel-wrapped chives, scallions, or green onions in an air-tight plastic bag and keep them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

READ ALSO: 12 Best Freezer Containers to Keep Your Food Fresh and Organized

Recipes That Use Chives And Green Onions Or Scallions

jamie-oliver's-potato-salad-with-lemon-and-dill-recipe

  • First-Rate Fried Rice – This fried rice recipe is an all-time favorite dish all thanks to its versatility. Toss your leftover rice with meat or vegetables then add a pop of extra color and flavor by adding some scallions or green onions!
  • Thinly Sliced Beef Ramen Soup – Nothing beats a delicious bowl of Japanese ramen. It is packed with Asian egg noodles and thinly sliced beef flank in a rich and flavorful broth. Make sure to serve it with popular ramen toppings like spring onions (another name for green onions)!
  • Lobster Pappardelle with Chive Butter – This fancy lobster pappardelle gives a creamy and umami-rich flavor by combining lobster broth, heavy cream, butter, and chives to make the sauce.
  • Korean Beef Lettuce Wraps – If you love Korean cuisine then these Korean beef lettuce wraps are the real deal! The sautéed beef is seasoned and garnished with green onions for added flavor and crunch! 
  • Jamie Oliver’s Potato Salad with Lemon and Dill – Whether an appetizer or a side dish, Jamie Oliver’s version of a potato salad is absolutely delightful! The potatoes are tossed in a lemon and dill dressing mixed together with mustard and chives for a creamy and tangy mix.

Chives, green onions, and scallions may have been interchangeable in most recipes but it doesn’t hurt to know their small differences. Each of them has its own flavor, and knowing which one to use will certainly elevate your dish.

Read Next: Ground Chuck vs Ground Beef: Differences Explained!

Denisse

Denisse is a content writer with a love of taking photos and videos for memory's sake. She has previous experience in writing travel features covering the best places to go, stay and eat, which unlocked a new milestone for her very picky teenage self. She is also a self-confessed bummer in the kitchen but her mother and grandmother are good cooks, making her wonder how she's gonna bring all her food writings to life.