5 Vibrant Substitutes for Green Onions

Green onions are an all-rounder kind of ingredient. It goes well with any recipe. Tacos, rice, egg, or potato, you can always spice up the dish with a generous toss of green onions. These onions are refreshing to the eyes and palette. Moreover, they go easy on the eye tearing part. These qualities, along with their divine taste, make them a must in kitchens all around the globe.

It took me a long time to distinguish between green onions, leeks, chives, and shallots. I’ll point the finger of blame to their starkly similar appearances. Even though they look almost the same, they have different uses in the kitchen. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t substitute them for one another. 

Green onions are usually readily available in the supermarket. Moreover, you can grow them at home too, either in soil or hydroponically. However, in the unfortunate circumstance, you can’t find green onions or are out of fresh ones, they do tend to die very quickly. You can always substitute them for other grassy ingredients.

However, for the sake of my readers, who are still lost in the subtle variations of scallions, green onions, and spring onions, let’s dive into the world of these vibrant fresh onions!

What are green onions?

Green onions have a long white stem end that does not bulge outward. They possess a mildly onion-like taste with a bit of bite. However, it is not as strong as regular onions. If you want the intense flavor, head to the white bulb.

Green onions are also known as scallions. They are a big part of Asian cuisines. kimchi-bokkeum-bap, ramen noodles, tandoori chicken, black bass are some green onion recipes. Green onions are harvested all around the year. To get the best ones, keep an eye on the color. The brighter, the better. In addition, green onions with whole leaves and firm stem end last the longest.

Are green onions good for you?

Green onions are famous for their taste. But, this doesn’t eclipse their role in promoting health. Highlights of their benefit on human health include:

  • Green onions contain twice the daily recommended amount of Vitamin K for adults. It helps our blood clot and keeps our bones strengthened. 
  • It provides us with almost 25% of our daily recommended value of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that shields our cells from damage.
  • It is an excellent source of Vitamin A.
  • Green onions contain allyl sulfide and flavonoids. These compounds, along with other similar ones, help prevent cancer. In addition, they also fight against enzymes that produce cancer cells.
  • Due to its antibacterial and anti-viral properties, it’s an excellent medicine to fight against viral and flu.

The table below shows green onions nutrition value:

Nutrition Value per serving (1 cup chopped)
Calories  32
Total fat 0.2 g
Sodium  16 mg
Potassium  276 mg
Total carbohydrates 7.3 g

5 Vibrant Substitutes for Green Onions

Being out of one ingredient does not mean you can’t replace it with another. Similarly, you have five perfect green onions replacement ready to make your dish a triumph!

1. Chives

I have excused myself for mixing up chives and green onions at the supermarket numerous times. After all, these two do look remarkably alike. However, a closer look will reveal that chives are a tad smaller than green onions. Furthermore, mature chives are darker green, and these onions are noticeably quicker to wilt or get damaged. Although, good luck telling them apart!

When it comes to taste, Chives are much milder and possess a sweeter taste than most scallions. However, they’re technically classified as a herb instead of a vegetable. Moreover, unlike green onions, which are the primary ingredients. Chives are typically used to lend the dish a subtle flavor.

The best thing about chives is that you can use them as a direct substitute for green onions. However, be aware that they cook a lot faster than scallions. So, bring the cooking time down accordingly. It would be best if you keep a close eye on your dish as it cooks. Since chives have less bite than green onions, you might want to add a bit more of them for the desired results.


2. Leeks

Apart from the fact that leeks are much larger, they are pretty similar to green onions in several ways. However, this is where the similarities end. Instead of using the dark green stalk, as we do with scallions, it has to be discarded in culinary use. Rather, you have to cook and relish the pale green or white portion of the stalk. Generally, leeks are never eaten raw. However, they taste delicious when cooked or roasted. Thus, even though leeks are also milder and less potent in taste, they make an excellent surrogate of green onions.

Wash leek properly and thoroughly before using. And I can’t stress this enough, but it needs proper cleaning. Since most don’t like leeks raw, saute it a bit before serving. You can use leek as a substitute for green onions in a salad.


3. Shallots

Shallots are milder and sweeter than our “traditional” onions (such as the red or white onions). They are an excellent sub for green onions. It is a good thing they are readily available. Cooking them is a lot like cooking a traditional onion. Which means that they have the same texture and feel. In addition, they take almost the same period of time to turn soft, grow fragrant, and finally caramelize when fully cooked. However, their flavor profile is a little gentler.


Suppose you plan to use shallots in place of green onions. Slice your shallots into small pieces for the best results. Moreover, use fewer shallots than you would green onions, as they have a more robust flavor than green onions. Shallots are the best substitute for green onions in potato salad. However, they aren’t a suitable sub when needed raw.

Thinly sliced shallots take the same amount of time to cook as green onions do. As a result, you can use them as a direct alternative to green onions. However, if you are serving them raw, remember they have an extra bite. Hence it’s a good idea, then, to use a small quantity.


4. Green Garlic

Green garlic comes from the leafy stalks of the garlic plant. Like green onions, its stalks grow above ground too. At the same time, the garlic herb grows beneath the ground. Green garlic is harvested before garlic bulbs have matured. Hence it is a lot milder in taste than the garlic cloves. As a result, it isn’t quite as overpowering.

Not only this, unlike regular garlic, which isn’t eaten raw (for the record, you can safely eat raw garlic, but you’ll likely regret this decision for life), you can use green garlic raw. By this, I mean it can be sliced and added to dishes in a raw state. Thus, it is pretty similar in handling to green onions. However, decidedly several folds more garlic-y. 

Green garlic is an excellent replacement for green onions in terms of texture and how it will cook. However, note that it imparts a more garlic-like flavor and aroma than an onion profile to your dish. Consequently, it is not an ideal substitute for all recipes.


5. Ramps

Likely, you have never heard of ramps before. They are often called wood leeks or wild leeks. Although there’s a high chance you’ll not find them in most grocery stores you walk in. But if you do, then congratulations! You have found an excellent substitute for most scallion recipes. Like green garlic, ramps lean towards a garlic flavor profile rather than an onion one. On the contrary, they offer a similar mild but savory undertone as green onions. Hence, you can use it as a substitute for green onions in a recipe that calls for garlic.

Ramps have rightly earned their wild and wood names. But, unfortunately, this means they grow best in nature rather than when harvested in a controlled environment. With practice, however, you might just become an expert at locating them in the wild. This way, you can source the freshest green onion substitute for free!

Ramps are an excellent alternative for green onions when cooked. Although, it isn’t a great stand-in for raw scallions since they possess a garlic profile too. Therefore, it is best if you reserve their use only in cooked dishes. You can use a cup of chopped ramps to substitute ½ cup of green onions.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the distinction between green onions, spring onions, and scallions?
Green onions and scallions are the same things. However, spring onion differs from scallions as it has small onion bulbs at its base. Moreover, spring onions are sweeter and mellower, but the greens have a more intense flavor than scallions.
Are scallions stronger than onions?
Scallions are young onions. They have the sharp, aromatic flavor of regular onions. But, since, they haven’t fully developed. They are slightly milder.
Are shallots the same as red onions?
No. Shallot has a milder and more delicate flavor than a regular onion. Although it is often used in place of common onions, they have notable differences in taste and appearance.


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