Scallions vs Green Onions: Know Your Bulb Vegetables

Scallions vs Green Onions

Scallions and green onions are both bulbs of the Allium onion species. They are used in a variety of dishes as garnishes or as flavor enhancers in sauces and soups. They also have several effects on our health that we can benefit from consuming them. Now, let us compare scallions vs green onions.

ScallionGreen Onion
AppearanceLong, hollow tubular green leaves with a white base and does not form a large bulbLacks a fully developed bulb compared to other Allium species
Health BenefitsHas Vitamin A, C, K, potassium, folate, and ironContains essential oils for sweating, normalizes blood pressure, increase appetite, contains Vit. C and A, and rich in sulfur
Medicinal UsesCommon cold, fungal, and bacterial infectionsCommon cold, sore throat, expectorant, and swollen feet
Originated fromFarther East of EuropeEurope

What are Scallions?

Scallions (Allium fistulosum) are also known as Welsh onions and Japanese bunching onions. They are called “bunching” because they grow in small clusters and are available all year round. Scallions differ to other Allium species by one defining characteristic: they do not form large bulbs.

Nowadays, we have developed onion varieties that are specifically bred to be harvested by farmers before they fully develop their bulbs. These varieties are called Evergreen Hardy White and White Spear.

They taste sweeter and milder compared to other onions, and the medium-sized ones are said to taste better than their small and large-sized counterparts. Their white base is more flavorful than their green, long, tube-like stems.

Did you know that there are “fake scallions?”

You read that right, “fake scallions.” Fake scallions will taste stronger than “real” scallions because they are just regular onions that get harvested before developing their bulbs.

Tip in choosing scallions: Choose the ones that have brightly-colored undamaged leaves about 8 inches long, and firm stem ends with moderately dry flesh.

What are Green Onions?


Green onions are also known as “bunching onions” and salad onions, they are called spring onions in Australia, England, Canada, and India. They have long, green stalks and very small white bulbs which are more defined compared to scallions.

They have a mild taste but can become as pungent as regular onions when they fully develop their bulbs. In the US, Green onions are also called scallions.

Are you scratching your head now? Carry on reading!

Are Scallions Green Onions?

The answer is…


To minimize your confusion, just think of green onions as the slightly matured version of scallions, while green onions are “baby” spring onions that are harvested in farms while their tops are still green.

So are scallions and green onions the same thing?

Let us now settle the debate about scallions vs green onions.

Because scallions and green onions have very little difference, they are often used interchangeably by cooks.

The only difference between scallions and green onions is their age when harvested. You can easily tell it is a scallion when its white bulb is slimmer; this is because they have spent a shorter time on the ground. Meanwhile, a green onion would have a slightly wider, ovular bulb.

Tasty and Healthy

Scallions and green onions are included in the vegetables that are often used as the main component of different diets such as Paleo, vegan, macrobiotic, and raw food diet.

These two Allium species are also used in alternative medicine because of their antiviral properties. People use them to treat nasal congestion by crushing them and making a poultice placed over the nose or steaming them inside a bag to treat a sore throat by placing the bag over the chest or throat.

Along with these uses, scallions and green onions have several vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin A: maintains the immune system, promotes healthy vision, and fights damage from free radicals. This vitamin can is found in the green tops of the bulbs.
  • Vitamin C: acts as an antioxidant, improves heart health and boosts the immune system.
  • Vitamin K: this vitamin is known to have an important role in blood clotting, lowers risks of heart diseases and stroke.
  • Folate: has a role in DNA function and prevention of stroke and heart disease.
  • Iron: plays a role in hemoglobin formation, metabolism, and immune health.
  • Potassium: maintains proper muscle contractions, regulates blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

What Can I Use as Green Onion Substitute or Scallion Substitute?

You can use the following as your green onion substitute or scallion substitute:

  • Chives

Fresh chives will make a good substitute for the green leafy stems of green onions and scallions especially if you only need them for garnish. Chives have a milder taste compared to the two, so you can use a bit more of them.

  • Leeks

The white part of leeks can substitute for the white part of scallions or green onions in cooked recipes. Pro tip: Green tops of leeks won’t make a good substitute for green tops of scallions or green onions because this part of the leek is too tough to be eaten raw and gets slippery when cooked.

  • Ramps

Ramps are wild leeks typically found around the Appalachian Mountains and surrounding states. They taste like an onion-garlic hybrid and will work well in cooked dishes. Use a fewer amount of ramps to the amount of green onion or scallion that you are replacing because ramps taste stronger than the two.

  • Shallots

Shallots can substitute scallions and green onions in most cooked dishes. Raw shallots can also be minced and used in uncooked dishes but use them sparingly because their flavor is more pungent than scallions and green onion.

  • Spring Onions

Spring onions are more mature than scallions and green onions, so they have a bit stronger flavor compared to the milder flavor of the mentioned two. Therefore, use only half the amount of what you’re replacing.

Are Scallions the Same as Green Onions?

As we have mentioned earlier, scallions are younger green onions. Flavorwise, they taste milder than green onions. Scallions are often used by people as a substitute for chives because they have a stronger flavor compared to chives. You can cook scallions, but most people prefer to use them raw especially in vegetable salads (e.g., scallion salad in Korean barbecues) or as garnishes in spicy recipes and soups.

Green onions, or slightly matured scallions, can be used as a substitute for scallions themselves. They are often used in salads, pasta dishes, and baked potatoes. They taste mild but a bit stronger than scallions.

Are you still confused? Think of it this way; scallions will turn into green onions and green onions will turn into spring onions.

How Should I Slice Scallions or Green Onions?

The best way to slice scallions or green onions is to use the entire length of the knife blade. You could do this by placing the tip of your knife’s blade against the cooking surface where you laid down a layer of the scallions or green onions. Next is you steadily pull the blade back across the scallions or green onions.

Never ever chop scallions or green onions because the pressure can bruise their leaves.

What’s the Best Way to Store Scallions and Green Onions?

To keep them fresh, place scallions or green onions inside a jar with about an inch of water. Place a bag over the jar and secure it with a rubber band to keep them from wilting. Place the jar in the fridge and remember to change the water inside the jar daily. These refrigerated scallions or green onions can last for a week.

If you’re going to use these onions for a cooked dish where the texture wouldn’t be a problem, you can slice them up and then freeze to extend their shelf life. These frozen slices would have a different texture when defrosted, so they are better for cooked recipes.

More About Bulbs!

Now that we have finished scallions vs green onions let us inform you more about the two Allium species compared to shallots.

Shallot vs Scallion

Unlike our first comparison, shallot and scallion are too different from being used interchangeably. Compared to the small white bulbs and long green leaves of scallion, a shallot has brown paper-like skin and a purple bulb. Shallots also have a garlic-like taste.

Shallots are popularly pickled in Southeast Asia and the U.K. They are also roasted whole, or used in Bearnaise sauce.

Shallots can also be eaten raw and added as chopped shallots in vinaigrettes, and sauces like mignonette. Although their sweetness is enhanced while cooking, scallions tend to turn bitter if overcooked.

Shallot vs Green Onion

You can easily distinguish shallot (A.cepa aggregatum) from a green onion (Allium fistulosum) by looking at their bulbs. A bulb of shallot is made up of cloves just like in garlic, while a green onion bulb is not made up of cloves. The green tops of green onion are also consumed, but in shallots, only the bulb is used.

Why Do Onions Make You Cry?

Allium species contain sulfur to protect them from predators. They take up sulfur from the soil, and the resulting sulfuric oil becomes their defense and is released once they are cut. These harsh chemicals turn savory when cooked that is why onions are stapled in most dishes.

Wrapping Bulbs Up!

In conclusion, it is easy to get confused about the different Allium species. It is important to know what are their differences and similarities so you can maximize their uses in cooking. To wrap things up, remember the acronym ScaGSpri.

Sca- stands for scallion, -g- for green onion, and –spri for spring onion. Scallion is an immature green onion, while the green onion is an immature spring onion. This acronym is also in the ascending order of flavor intensity, so next time that you’re shopping for ingredients, you don’t have to shed a tear with what onion you will need to use for your recipe!

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