Chives Vs Green Onions Vs Scallions: What’s The Difference?

Chives Vs Green Onions Vs Scallions

Similar in appearances, the three plants in the onion family – chives, green onions, and scallions – have confused many people. Some even bought the wrong type of onion home and only realized their mistakes when the final dish did not come out as they expected. 

Check out our article to understand the critical differences between chives vs green onions vs scallions so that you will not make the same mistakes in the future! 

Quick Facts

Chives: 

  • Species: Allium schoenoprasum – the only herb in the onion family
  • Characteristics: Tiny needle-like green leaves, no white stalks
  • Usage: As a garnish 

Green Onions: 

  • Species: Allium cepa – the species that produce actual onions 
  • Characteristics: White stalks, thin lush green leaves, roots
  • Usage: As garnish and ingredients

Scallions: 

  • Species: Allium fustilosum – the species that never produce bulbs
  • Characteristics: White stalks, thin lush green leaves, roots
  • Usage: As garnish and ingredients

Understanding The Differences

In general, green onions and scallions are typically considered the same thing. Both have stiff white stalks, long thin green leaves, and a few roots on the end. Yet, if you try to differentiate them at a deeper level, you may acknowledge a slight difference in their origins. 

Scallions come from the allium fustilosum species, while its corresponding onion, the green onions, belong to the species of the allium cepa. In fact, the former cannot become actual onions in the end, while the latter does. Thus, these two species are not the same. 

This means when you leave a green onion on the field for an extended amount of time, it eventually produces the bulbs, which later become the real onions. Meanwhile, the allium fustilosum species never facilitate the bulbs. Therefore, no matter how much time you leave a scallion on the ground, it stays the same. 

Nevertheless, it is crucial to emphasize that green onions are usually harvested early before their bulbs appear. This explains why this type of onion shares the same appearance as scallions. Moreover, besides the appearance, their flavors remain the same. Thus, these two are frequently used interchangeably. 

On the other hand, though slightly similar in appearances, it is vital to emphasize that chives differ from green onions and scallions in several aspects, including species, characteristics, and usages. 

Species 

While the other two may share some similarities when it comes to species, chives are different. They belong to the allium schoenoprasum, the only herbs from the onion family. Thus, they commonly serve as one of the fine herbs in French cuisines, together with chervil, tarragon, or parsley.

Characteristics 

Like scallions, chives’ allium schoenoprasum species never produce the bulbs. However, while the white stalks of scallions can be used in the culinary world, chives’ stalks are not beneficial. Thus, chives that you often see in the supermarkets only have tiny needle-like green leaves, together with or without some little pale lilac flowers.   

Usage

As chives are herbs, they are more delicate than scallions or green onions in flavors, usually utilized as a garnish. On the contrary, chefs can use the other two cousins in the onion family both to garnish and cook them with other ingredients. 

Chives

Served as actual herbs in the culinary world, chives are many people’s favorite garnish to put on eggs, omelets, soups, or salads. However, if you want to take advantage of them differently, it is recommended that you add these aromatic grass to cheese or soft butter to substitute garlic butter. 

Significantly, chives’ lilac flowers are not only beautiful but also flavorful. You can remove petals from stems and add them to your dish. They taste milder than the greenish leaves.

They are pretty good for health as they provide you with many nutrients such as Vitamins K, C, A, calcium, and folate. 

Green Onions

Green onions have mild onion flavors. Thus, they are frequently adopted in various dishes such as salads, steam, stir-fries, or roast. What’s more, because they contain a high quantity of calcium and Vitamin C, you should benefit from higher nutritional value than their mature counterparts. 

Moreover, since they come from bulb-producing species that eventually form actual onions, it becomes possible to plant them at home. Yet, it is vital to emphasize that these prosper in cooler temperatures. Hence, if you want to enjoy them straight from your garden, plant onion bottoms, and harvest them during spring and fall. 

Scallions

Though scallions, also known as Japanese bunching onions, never produce the bulb, they present you with similar flavors and textures as the green onions do. For example, both of their leaves are milder, while their white stalks have a more onion-like taste. 

Furthermore, scallions also flourish in cool temperatures. Hence, the best time to harvest them is in the early spring and fall months. 

Besides, both scallions and green onions are suitable for quick recipes such as scallion pancakes or creamy green onion spread. They can be utilized as toppings or cooked to add some unique flavor to your meals.  

Are Fresh Chives Better?

Definitely. It is reported that time and heat may cause damage to those valuable vitamins in these plants and spoil their tastes. Thus, when served fresh, not only chives but also scallions and green onions can offer an abundance of nutrients to diners. Consequently, the fresher they are, the more nutritious and flavorful they will be.

Can Green Onions And Scallions Be Too Ripe?

Yes, they can, especially when you purchase them from grocery stores or supermarkets. Unlike the ones you grow in your garden, green onions and scallions from the store may be too ripe when they are harvested. Thus, it is vital to check their status before buying. 

You can detect the maturity of these plants by observing their texture or smell. If they are picked too late, they may be slimy and covered by a milky liquid. Besides, you may feel some pretty strong odor from these overripe vegetables. 

What Are The Best Ways To Store Green Onions, Scallions, And Chives?

If you have an excess of these plants that you cannot use all at once, the best way to store them is to utilize a refrigerator. 

First, regarding green onions and scallions, to protect their freshness over time, you should follow these 5 steps to store them adequately in the fridge. 

  • Step 1: Remove the package or rubber band around the onions. Then cut off the root. You can save these roots to try growing them at home later. 
  • Step 2: Cut the onions in half so that they fit the size of your plastic bags or containers. 
  • Step 3: Take a paper towel to remove any excess water and moist on the surface of these onions. 
  • Step 4: Wrap them in some paper towels. Remember not to wrap them too tight. Or else they may get crushed later on. 
  • Step 5: Place the wrapped ones in a bag or container. Write the date you bought them on the bag before refrigerating. Green onions or scallions can be used within seven days after your purchase. 

It is crucial to note that storing chives is pretty different from the two other onion species. To preserve them, you should wrap them properly in a moist (not wet) cloth or paper towel and put these wraps into a plastic bag before storing the bag in the fridge. This will help retaining chives’ freshness and quality for a more extended amount of time. 

Why Are Chives So Expensive?

Chives usually are more pricey than scallions and green onions, especially if you purchase the European types. This is because this type of herb from European countries is pretty thin and delicate. 

Besides, since prolonged heat may obliterate their flavor and remove some moisture from the leaves, chives present the best taste when they are consumed raw. 

Therefore, it takes some more effort to preserve them from the field until they arrive safe and sound on supermarket shelves. Besides, chives are not as easy to plant as green onions. Their seeds are pretty expensive in the market, or else you need to purchase a large clump of chives to grow them. These characteristics make them so expensive in comparison to others. 

Are Chives Easy To Digest?

Of course. Chives are pretty easy to digest. Thus, you can use them raw on salads or use them as a garnish without any concern. Just remember to wash them carefully before usage, then you are safe to enjoy these herbs.

Mariana Rouco

Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of Elpasony.com. She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.

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