There’s a lot of confusion around onions. For instance, do you know the difference between scallions, leeks, green onions, or spring onions? (*)
- What’s the difference between green onions and scallions?
- Are spring onions the same as green onions?
- 1. Chives – Your Most Common Green Onion Replacement
- 2. Freeze-dried Spring Onions
- 3. Spring Onions
- 4. Shallots
- 5. Onion Powder
- 6. Leeks
- 7. Red Onions
- 8. Yellow/ White onions – Handy Green Onion Substitute for Cooking
- 9. Celery – For Those Allergic to Onions
- 10. Parsley & Garlic or Celery
- +1 Asafoetida
Scallions or green onions are just immature onions. They can be traced back to 2000 years ago, and they are native to Asia and modern-day Israel.
Belonging to the lily family, they are aromatic and mild, used more like a seasoning than an ingredient.
We’ll clear up all your other onion-related questions, and how to substitute green onions in a variety of dishes.
About Green Onions
Surprising fact: Chopping them finer will make their aroma and flavor more intense.
Green onions, also called Welsh onions or Japanese bunching onions, give a fresh, grassy flavor to dishes, although they are milder than other onions. You can immerse them in ice-cold water to reduce their bitey flavor.
They are members of the allium family, along with garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives. You can find them in most grocery stores and are used in a variety of cuisines ranging from Mexican to Japanese to Southeast Asian. ( * )
Their white bottom is strong and best when cooked, and the green tips are fresh-tasting and ideal for garnish.
What’s the difference between green onions and scallions?
- Scallions are picked earlier in the growing cycle, and green onions have a slightly stronger flavor. ( * )
- Green onions have a more rounded bulb than scallions, which are almost straight like spring onions.
- Scallions are the young version of any onion (harvested before they reach full maturity).
Are spring onions the same as green onions?
The term “spring onion” refers to the season when the best green onions are available in stores: spring and summer. However, Google may tell you that green onions are another name for spring onions. ( * )
Why is there confusion?
Green onions are known as “spring onions” in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, which adds to the confusion. In the United States, however, they refer to different varieties.
10+1 Good Substitutes For Green Onion (From Mild To Bold, Raw To Cook!)
1. Chives – Your Most Common Green Onion Replacement
Chives are herbaceous and mild, perfect for sprinkling and substituting green onions—especially raw. They have remarkably similar flavors and looks.
However, chives have a more delicate taste, so use more, even double the amount to get the same pop. It’s usually used to add a subtle flavor rather than as a main ingredient as opposed to green onions. ( * )
However, they will soften much faster so keep a close eye on them while cooking. To maintain their flavor, it’s best to use chives raw in cold dishes or as a garnish or add them towards the end of the cooking time.
2. Freeze-dried Spring Onions
Freeze-dried spring onions are perfect for when you need a sprinkle of green onions. The dried version works best in soups, stews, or sauces with some liquid to rehydrate it.
Don’t use dried spring onions in place of fresh ones as a topping or garnish—they won’t taste as good. They do, however, have a much longer shelf life and are usually available at the grocery store, even when they are out of season.
Unlike dried herbs, dried green onions lose some flavor. So you may need to increase the ratio for the same effect when substituting green onions.
3. Spring Onions
Spring onions’ tender green stalks are very similar in flavor to the bright green parts of green onions.
You can use them interchangeably in any recipe that calls for green onions. They have a more intense flavor, but still, make a great green onion substitute in salads and other raw dishes. ( * )
In lesser amounts, they can also work well as a garnish, in soups, for example.
Shallots have a more delicate, subtle, and sweeter flavor, but you can use them as a sub for green onions both raw or cooked. ( * )
- They are best used thinly sliced in cooked dishes.
- Their taste works particularly well where the green onion is cooked or in dressings, or in potato and egg salads.
- They take about the same time as yellow or white onions to soften and caramelize when cooked
If you are serving them raw, they will add an extra bite, so it’s a good idea to use much less.
Our tips: Shallots, minced, should be added at the beginning of the cooking. To tone down their flavor, finely slice them and sprinkle them with salt and lemon juice. Use one small shallot for every large green onion called for in the recipe.
5. Onion Powder
If you can’t find anything fresh, onion powder will work just fine to substitute green onions in soups, stews, sauces, or dips.
Still, you won’t get that same fresh, herby flavor, but in cooked dishes, like stews or soups where onion is a complementary ingredient, it works well.
They can add the onion flavor, but not the texture, and they are concentrated, so use less, and follow our ratio.
Substitute ratio: 1 green onion = ½ teaspoon onion powder
Leeks are like oversized green onions, but otherwise similar in taste. You need to discard the thick, dark green leaves and cook and eat the pale green and white parts of the stalk.
They are usually not really eaten raw but are amazing fried or roasted. All in all, it’s best to at least sauté them quickly, as many people don’t like their raw taste.
Though less bold and slightly sourer, they make an excellent green onion substitute for most recipes, using them in a 1:1 ratio.
Keep in mind: Leeks are dirty vegetables. Thoroughly rinse them before cooking, separating the layers and washing between them.
How they taste the best: Use the bulb of the leek, focusing on the lower end of the stalk and the bulb. Add at the beginning of cooking, just like onions. ( * )
7. Red Onions
Red onions taste much bolder than green onions, but they can be mellowed by cooking, so they are a fun substitute for green onions in many recipes.
However, they can also be enjoyed raw, sliced, and added to tacos or potatoes or to top soups.
Pro tip: To take away the edge of a red onion without cooking it, you can slice and submerge them in cold water for about 10 minutes.
You can go for a 1:1 replacement for green onions and enjoy them both raw or cooked. Just make sure to increase the cooking time as they will take longer to soften and grow fragrant.
8. Yellow/ White onions – Handy Green Onion Substitute for Cooking
Yellow onion is the most versatile of all onions, and also the most common to have at home – making it one of the best green onion substitutes.
White onions can be used to replace both the white and green parts of green onions, but they are best used to substitute the white bulbs.
Use them in soups, fried, roasted, paired with potatoes or cheese, with short ribs, or simply as a topping for your pizza to substitute green onions. You likely already have them in your kitchen anyway.
However, keep in mind that white onions are much more potent than green onions. So if you’re using them raw as a topping, use half the amount and chop them finely.
You can also soak them in ice-cold water to lessen their bite. If your recipe calls for cooked green onions, you can use an equal amount of white onions.
9. Celery – For Those Allergic to Onions
Although it won’t replicate the subtle flavor, celery is a good substitute for green onions, especially for those who are allergic to the Allium family (green onions, leeks, garlic, and other types of onions). ( * )
Celery has a similar earthy sweetness, especially when cooked, without the onion taste. By adding spices and herbs, you can further enhance the similarity.
- The stalk and leaves are both edible, so celery works as garnish and also adds depth to soups and stews.
- Slice the stalk finely and fry as you would onions or chop the leaves and sprinkle over pasta or soup.
We love celery for salads, sandwiches, soups, stews, and stir-fries to substitute green onions.
Substitute ratio: 1 green onion = 1 large celery stick
10. Parsley & Garlic or Celery
Parsley is mild, fresh, and versatile but without any trace of onion. Use fresh parsley to garnish, or in cooked dishes near the end, as it disintegrates quickly.
Parsley paired with celery and garlic adds a piquancy and texture similar to green onions. A little extra fennel adds the same sweetness that green onion would.
We use it in salads, dressings, soups, and cooked dishes to replace green onions.
Asafoetida, like vegetables, is used as a flavoring agent and is ideal for people who are allergic to onions. In India and Iran, it is used to flavor curries, meatballs, dal, and pickles. (*)
Because of its organic sulfur compounds, it emits a strong onion-like odor and can be found in stores as hing spice.
Substitute 1 tablespoon of onion powder with one medium chopped onion.
For cooking, it’s best to use the whole green onion, however, when the recipe calls for raw onions, use the green parts.
Parsley has a herby aroma, making it ideal for garnishing. Its green color can resemble green onion and add a subtle flavor to the original recipe.
It can be used as a dressing on pasta, soups, and stir-fries, or mixed with salad for a flavor boost to substitute green onions.
Before you pick up all the green onion substitutes from the store, consider the following:
- Is it for a cooked dish, or served raw?
- How much do you like onions? Do you love them bold or mild? Do you mind if the taste lingers long after eating?
- How much time do you have to make the dish?
Pick your green onion substitutes accordingly. If you have to cook a dish for long, don’t go for the parsley version, choose white onions instead.
However, don’t be scared of bold flavors, you can tame any onion with some soaking, and a bit of lemon zest and salt.
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