The Best Green Onion Substitutes

The culinary world wouldn’t be the same without onions. Green onions, many times referred to as scallions or spring onions, are part of the onion family but feature smaller bulbs and crispy leafy green sprigs and can be enjoyed raw as a colorful crispy topping or added to cooked soups, stews, and casseroles. 

So what are the best green onion substitutes? If green onions are not available, they can be substituted with scallions, leeks, shallots, ramps, and chives. There are even some dehydrated and minced spices that are appropriate substitutes for green onions. The different parts of green onions provide different flavors. The white bulb portion has a stronger flavor than the green, leafy sprigs.

A green onion provides a light depth of flavor to recipes. They also add a tasty crunch when chopped added to sandwiches and salads. Green onions are also used as a garnish. Green onions are not always available so let’s take a look at some of the best green onion substitutes.

Here are the best green onion substitutes

  • Leeks (cook only): Leeks, also a vegetable look similar to green onions but have thicker bulbs and stems. Leeks offer a milder, delicate, and sweeter flavor than green onions. It’s their tough texture that sets them apart from other green onion substitutes.  and They feature a tougher and fibrous texture. Leeks are best substituted for green onions cooked dishes and are not recommended eating raw. 
  • Scallions (great for fresh): Scallions are frequently used when green onions are not available. Scallions are actually thin green onions that did not fully mature. They tend to be longer, milder with bright green tops, with a sweeter, crispy, juicy texture. Cooking scallions will take away their wonderful flavor so substitute them for green onions as garnishes and toppings or chop and add moments before serving.
  • Shallots (slice thinly):  Shallots make a wonderful substitute for green onions in many recipes. They are small drier onions with a fresh, pungent flavor. Shallots offer a softer, more delicate texture and a sweet hint of sharpness. Shallots can be chopped or minced and used sparingly in raw dishes including salads and sandwiches. They retain their flavor when added to cooked dishes including soups that simmer for long periods of time or casseroles that bake in the oven.
  • Ramps (slice or chop thinly):  Ramps are not as common as some of the other green onion substitutes or as available. They grow in shady, wooded areas and need to be cleaned carefully. They feature a flavor combination of garlic and onion, look similar to scallions and have flat, broad green tops. The leaves offer the mildest flavor. Their hearty texture makes them a perfect substitute for dishes that include garlic, like Italian dishes, stuffing, soups, and stews. They are also flavorful in quiches, frittatas, and other egg dishes.
  • Cooking Onions (chop, slice, or mince):  One of the most frequently used substitutes for a green onion is a yellow or white cooking onion. Their flavor is not as dramatic as green onions but will provide a depth of flavor similar. Chop the onion very finely and add to raw or cooked recipes and it will be difficult to notice any difference in flavor.
  • Chives (great for garnishes): Chives are an amazing green onion substitute for green onions, especially in raw dishes. Chives are long green, thin onions that are similar to the green portion of the green onion. They make flavorful toppings and beautiful garnishes. Refrain from cooking them too long as their flavor and color will disappear in heat. Note: Dried chives found in the spice aisle of the market, have a totally different flavor than fresh.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best green onion substitute for salads?

When green onions are not available for fresh salads, substitute with finely chopped scallions, shallots, or chives, or a combination of the three to provide a fresh, bright flavor and color to salads.

How many tablespoons is one green onion chopped?

The answer to this question depends on the size of the green onion, but generally, one medium green onion is equal to between two and three tablespoons when it is finely chopped.

Can You Grow Your Own Green Onions?

Yes, you can grow or regrow your own green onions or scallions throughout the entire year. Don’t toss them in the garbage or compost, plant them and have a forever supply. Green onions are sold with the root attached on the end which should be cut off before using. Follow these easy steps:

  • First cut off the ends of the bulbs, with roots attached.
  • Stand the bulbs root-end down in a Mason or other glass jar. Cover the roots with water, but don’t cover the leaves.
  • Set the jar in a lighted area and in a few days, green shoots will appear on top of the bulbs.
  • Keep the roots submerged and add fresh water weekly
  • When the shoots grow to about 4 inches, plant them in a small pot with quality potting soil. You can also plant them in the ground. Continue to water and fertilize
  • They will continue to grow and you can begin snipping and using them in your recipes. 

Are Onions A Healthy Food?

Yes, onions are vegetables and are nutrient-dense making them a low-calorie food with a high vitamin and mineral content. They have a very high content of vitamin C which strengthens the immune system, vitamin B which is important for a healthy metabolism and nervous system, and a good source of potassium. Onions are also great for heart health, reduce disease-causing inflammation, and are full of antioxidants. 

Can You Eat The Skin of An Onion?

Most people discard the skin of the onion and don’t use it in recipes. The onion skin or peels are actually very flavorful and full of healthy components. They can be added to flavor rice, soups, teas, stock, casseroles, and many cooked recipes that already call for onions.

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