31 July 2022

The 12 best green onion substitutes for your recipes

By Killian

Despite their small size and mild flavor, green onions have become an important ingredient in countless recipes around the world.

This is probably due to his versatility and its pleasant flavor for the tongue, making them a popular addition to raw and cooked dishes alike.

When you don’t have green onions, or they’re just not in season, you’ll need a good substitute for green onions. We have selected some of our favourites, keep reading!

The best green onion substitutes

Green onions go by different names, such as chives and chives.

There is some confusion surrounding these young bulbs because, in some parts of the United States, they are often called shallots, which are a completely different type of onion.

Shallots and chives have a small bulb in common, but while chives are the young version of any type of onion (since they are harvested before they are fully developed), shallots remain small even when ripe.

The name “chive”, on the other hand, comes from the time of year when you can find the best chives in supermarkets, which usually covers both the spring and summer months.

Cooking with green onions offers great versatility because you can use both the white and the green parts.

White bulbs are typically used as you would any other type of onion. You can chop or slice them thinly and use them in your stir-fries, marinades, and sauces, but you can also use them raw in salads just like you would celery.

Green shoots are mostly used as a garnish, but they can also be added to recipes to give them that delicious, mild onion flavor with a hint of grass.

They are a popular ingredient in the famous Gyeran Mari (egg rolls), a colorful and delicious Korean recipe that every child loves.

When you want to use green onions in recipes, but you’ve run out or you’d rather try something different, you have many options for a good substitution.

As a general rule, all types of onions are a good substitute, as long as you adjust the amount based on their specific flavor profile.

However, in this guide we will go over each type of onion in detail, and be sure to read our list to the end because there is also more than one scallion substitute that might surprise you.

1. White onions

We start with white onions because they are probably the most obvious substitute that comes to mind when you think of white bulbs for green onions.

If you’re wondering, green onions aren’t specifically young white onions, but if you need something that tastes and resembles the bulb of scallions, white onions are probably the best choice for your dish.

You can use white onions as a green onion substitute in all recipes that call for chopped chives, but also in salsa, sandwiches, and salads.

As spring onion bulbs are quite small, one medium-sized white onion can replace about 8-9 green onion bulbs.

2. Yellow onions

Yellow onions are the so-called basic onion. Normally, when a recipe calls for onion without specifying the type, it’s a subtext that you should use yellow onions. Yes, they are that famous.

These onions are the perfect ingredient to caramelize, and add a touch of sweetness to your dish.

Although they can substitute for both the white and green parts of chives, they are best used as a substitute for the white bulbs.

Use yellow onions in soups, fried, roasted, combined with sweet potatoes, with cheese in a sandwich, with short ribs, or simply as a topping for your pizza.

3. Red onions

Red onions are high in sugar and are considered the sweetest variety of onions. They also taste somewhat spicy, which makes their flavor profile even more intriguing.

You can use red onions as an alternative to green onions, but caution is advised. Start with a small amount of red onion and build your dish from there.

Red onions lose some of their intensity when cooked, while they are perfect for adding subtle flavor to salads and sandwiches.

4. Sweet onions

Sweet onions look a lot like yellow onions, but have a sweeter flavor. They are often used to make onion rings because they are perfect for frying and caramelizing.

You can toss them in a pan with a little olive oil over low heat until they release their sweet fragrance, and then add chopped zucchini or another fruit or vegetable of your choice to make a delicious side dish or filling.

You can also mix them with minced meat and some roasted vegetables for your stuffed peppers.

Sweet onions are incredibly versatile and make a good substitute for green onions, both for the stems and the bulbs. But be careful with the quantity, as the medium sweet onion is larger than other types of onion.

5. Chives

Chives are technically an herb and not a vegetable, but they are so similar to scallions that it’s sometimes hard not to confuse the two.

They taste quite sweet and are much milder than green onions. In fact, they are used to add a subtle touch to dishes, rather than being used as the main ingredient, as is the case with chives.

However, chives can be substituted for scallions in both cooked and raw recipes, as long as you are careful not to overcook them, as they cook much faster than onion.

6. Green garlic

Green garlic is the young version of garlic, just as green onion is the young version of onion.

This type of garlic is harvested when the plant is still immature, and it is made up of the green stems that grow above the ground, while the common garlic, or salty garlic, that we use in cooking is extracted from the bulbs.

Green garlic is a good substitute for green onion texture-wise, but not so flavor-wise. As you can imagine, it will taste much more like garlic than onion, so it may not be the best choice for all recipes that call for an onion flavor profile.

7. Garlic

As we’ve already mentioned, garlic and onion have different flavor profiles, but we wanted to include it on this list because both garlic and spring onion are used for the same reason: to add an extra layer of flavor to your dishes.

In fact, garlic and green onion can be used in the same recipe, as they work so well together. When you have to substitute green onion for garlic, be sure to choose the right recipe.

You can use garlic as a substitute for green onion in meat dishes, or to balance the bitterness of vegetables like spinach, kale, cabbage, arugula, broccoli, and the like.

Remember to adjust the amount of garlic, as its flavor can be quite overpowering. And whatever you do, never serve raw garlic in place of raw green onions.

8. Leeks

Leeks are probably the least known and most appreciated member of the onion family. Many people don’t even know that leeks are actually a variety of onion.

You can use the leeks as a direct substitute for green onions; however, in the case of leeks, you have to cut off the green stems.

The light green and white parts of this vegetable can be your special ingredient in many recipes, as they are perfect for sautéing, frying and grilling. You can use them in sauces, but also raw in tacos or salads.

When you use them raw, remember to cut them into thin slices, because they have quite a strong flavor. Another thing to remember about leeks is that you have to wash them well, because they are full of dirt.

9. Ramps

Ramps are like a jolly card because they’re hard to find in stores, but when you find them, you’ve got your hands on a nice green onion substitute, which can also work as a garlic substitute.

This vegetable is often called wild leeks, because it grows better in the wild than cultivated, which is also why they are hard to find in most stores.

The flavor profile of ramps is more like garlic than onion, however if you want to elevate your dish in the same way you would scallion, ramps are the perfect substitute for the job.

We recommend not using raw ramps, but only in recipes that require cooking.

10. Green peppers

The brother of the most hated or loved pepper: the green pepper. Unlike red or yellow bell pepper, green bell pepper has an almost completely different flavor profile, which is why people often love it or hate it.

However, it is precisely this peculiar mix of bitterness and grassy flavor, somewhat resembling green onion, that makes green bell pepper a great alternative to chives.

Most of the time, you will use the green bell pepper to substitute for the green onion because you need the same crunch and color as the scallions.

But you can also find that green bell peppers are quite versatile in the kitchen: you can cook them in a pan, roast them, grill them, or even eat them raw.

11. Oregano

It is true that oregano has nothing in common with green onion. It is not even a vegetable, but a herb, and it is used as a spice.

Although it cannot be said that chives and oregano share some similarities in terms of flavor, oregano tastes grassy and earthy, and is very spicy, so it is perfect to give a finishing touch to your dishes.

We recommend using oregano to replace the green part of the chives and, above all, as a seasoning, for example, on pizza, melted mozzarella cheese, bruschetta or in your frittata.

12. Dried Green Onions

When all else fails, you can turn your back on fresh produce and go dry.

Dried green onions can be purchased online or at any well-stocked grocery store. You may lose some flavor, but you’ll gain a lot in terms of shelf life.

Sprinkle dried green onions over your potato wedges, eggs, bruschetta, and anything that benefits from a mild-flavored dressing. You can also use them in soups, stews, meats or slow cooker recipes.

How to choose a green onion substitute

Green onions are not difficult to substitute, and most of the best substitutes are easily found at your local grocery stores.

When looking for an alternative to green onions, you should stay within the onion family: white, yellow, red, sweet and leeks can all be a direct substitute for scallions in most recipes.

Chives are also quite similar to green onions, although they have a milder flavor profile. Keep in mind that its cooking time is much shorter than that of green onions.

If you fancy a different flavor that continues to enhance your dish as desired, you can use garlic, green garlic, ramps, oregano, or green peppers, the latter perfect for a nice crunch.

When you don’t have time to experiment, you can’t go wrong with the dried version of green onions, easy to find and ready to be sprinkled on all your delicious dishes.