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Behind the Seasoning: Chives vs. Green Onion vs. Scallion

Spoons with Freeze Dried Scallions and Freeze Dried Chives

Mild, delicate, and green are all good ways to describe chives, green onions, and scallions. If you’ve ever stopped in the grocery store looking at chives, green onions, and scallions and wondering what exactly the difference is, you are not alone. Read on to find out all the ins and outs of chives, green onions, and scallions. 

Chives vs. Green Onion vs. Scallion

When it comes to chives, green onions, and scallions, they have a lot of overlapping qualities. They are all part of the onion family and share overlapping flavor profiles. 

What are Chives?

Chives are a great herb to pull out in the kitchen. Chives are the edible leaves of the Allium schoenoprasum plant and grow as a long, hollow thin tube. This green herb is typically long in stature and used as a garnish. The herb is the smallest member of the onion family and has a delicate and mild flavor. Bonus: if you have fresh chives growing in your garden or yard, you might be surprised to learn that the purple blossoms are actually edible as well. Try Chive Blossom Vinegar or Chive Flower Salt to add subtle onion flavor to a variety of dishes.

What are dried chives?

Dried chives are an excellent substitute for fresh chives and still have the same flavor profile, just a slightly milder flavor. Since they are dried, they are better when added into the cooking process earlier rather than as a garnish at the end. This allows for the chive flavor to really shine through. Our Freeze Dried Chives are almost equal in flavor to fresh chives due to the flash freezing process. 

What is a Green Onion?

Green onions are probably the most similar to onions out of the bunch. The vegetable has tender green leaves that grow from an immature onion. The onion is attached to a long hollow stem that starts with white roots and turns green along the stem. Everything on a green onion is edible, however, the white bulb is sharper in flavor than the green stem. 

What is a Scallion?

Scallions and green onions are actually the same vegetable and can be used interchangeably. You may notice that the green sprout is more likely to be called a green onion, while the word scallion often refers to the white bulb. They can come from different varieties of onions and are the immature bulb of an onion plant that hasn’t developed fully. The onions get pulled from the ground when they are still small bulbs, allowing them to have a more mild flavor. 

Buy Onions on purple background with close up of a spoon of scallions on the right

What Do Chives, Green Onions, and Scallions Taste Like?

If you are a fan of onions, chances are you’ll be happy eating chives, green onions, and scallions. Since they are all related in the food world, they share taste profiles. They all tend to be less sharp than the pungent flavor of raw onions but with a similar flavor. 

What do Chives taste like?

Chives may have a similar taste to both fresh onion and garlic, since they are all part of the allium family. Chives are milder than onion but, since they are often used as a garnish, their raw flavor is bolder because of the freshness. Chives also have a similar herbaceous oniony flavor as leeks, which are also part of the onion family. 

What do Green Onions and Scallions taste like?

There is a range of flavors going on in a green onion or scallion. The white bulbs have a shaper taste than the rest of the vegetable. They have a slight oniony taste that is rather mild and can sometimes be a little sweet. The flavor is most comparable to a mild, sweet raw onion. The green tops of the scallions have a more vegetal, peppery flavor and are often used as a garnish on a dish.

Close up of spoon with Freeze Dried Scallions

Are There Health Benefits of Chives, Green Onions, and Scallions?

While scallions and green onions are mostly made out of water, they still provide some health benefits when eaten. Like all fresh vegetables, they are filled with vitamins, like vitamins C and K. Chives are also strong when it comes to health benefits. The green herb may assist in preventing osteoporosis, improve memory, and is filled with vitamins such as A, K, and C. 

Where & How to Buy Chives, Green Onion, and Scallion Seasonings

Chives, green onions, and scallions are staples in most local markets. Look for green onions or scallions in the produce section, and remember the names can be used interchangeably. Pick scallions that are bright green in color and have firm green stems. Often, the small roots will still be attached. To prolong the life of fresh scallions, store them similar to fresh flowers, with the root end submerged in a small amount of water in a glass or small vase.

Chives can typically be found by the herb section in the market. The roots are not typically attached so you’ll need to plan to use fresh chives more quickly. Many onions also grow wild or can be easily cultivated in home gardens. Chives are notorious for thriving and spreading rapidly.

If you’d prefer to keep them dried and in the spice cabinet to avoid spoilage concerns, our store has all of your needs covered. We sell both Freeze Dried Chives and Scallions that are great to add to all of your recipes when cooking. Our store locator will also help you find the herbs in person if you’d prefer to check them out in stores.

Overhead view of a bowl of onion dip with chives on top and a chip dipped into it

What Can Be Substituted for Chives, Green Onions, or Scallions?

Since chives, green onions, and scallions are all so similar, they are excellent as substitutions for one another. Chives have a more mild flavor than green onions, so you will need to adjust the ratio since the taste won’t be 1:1. They also work well to swap as a garnish since they have a similar look.

Other members of the onion family, like leeks, shallots, and garlic, are also great to swap in for green onions. While they all have a similar taste, they have different notes and sharpness, and may be best in different cooking applications, so be aware of how much you are replacing in each swap. 

What Other Spice, Seasoning, and Flavors Pair Well with Chives, Green Onion, and Scallions?

Since chives are typically used as a garnish and have a delicate flavor, they pair well with other herbs and vegetables. Herbs, spices, and vegetables like basil, tarragon, cilantro, and fennel are common pairings. A classic blend in French cuisine is Fines Herbs, which is a simple mix of chives, parsley, tarragon, and French chervil.

Since scallions and green onions are used for many bases in sauces, stews, and marinades, they make excellent pairings with the majority of herbs and spices. Scallions or green onions taste great alongside ginger, garlic, and other members of the onion family

Bowl of ramen with (clockwise from left) green onion, garlic, ginger, onion, and chopsticks

What are Chives, Green Onions, and Scallions Used For?

Chives, green onions, and scallions are not normally the star of the show, but that doesn’t mean you should underestimate their flavor. They are often supporting ingredients that build up other spices in the dish to make an excellent finished product. 

Chive uses in cooking

Chives are a show stopping garnish and excellent to put on top of eggs, potatoes, seafood or steak. The dried herbs also work well in stews, sauces, remoulades, and vichyssoise. For a brighter chive flavor, try adding them to cream cheese, dip, butter, or sour cream. 

Uses for Green Onion and Scallions 

What uses don’t green onions and scallions have in the kitchen should be the better question. You’ll often see scallions used two ways in the same dish. The whites can be added during cooking, with the green part reserved and used as a garnish to finish the dish. Scallions can be finely chopped and used as a base when making soups and stews. The vegetable is also great to add to salads, eggs, sandwiches, or stir-fry. Dried scallions can be used both in cooking or as a garnish for a less intense scallion flavor. 

Bowl of Cambridge Celery Seasoning Blend

Recipes Using Onion Seasonings

If you’re still not sure where to start using these in your kitchen, we’re here to help. These recipes will show off chives, green onions, and scallions in all their glory. 

Chive Recipes

Freeze Dried Chives: Don’t underestimate the tiniest member of the onion family. What the herb lacks in size, it makes up for in flavor and color. 

  • Cambridge Celery Seasoning Spice Blend: A DIY replica of one of our discontinued spice mixes, this amped-up version of celery salt includes shallots, chives, onion, and garlic for maximum flavor.
  • Grand Dill Dip: The blend of ingredients in this dip all complement each other. Buttery, herby dill highlights the vegetal flavor of chives while garlic brings out the oniony notes.
  • Whiskey Barrel Smoked Cheese Ball: A big ball of cheese is always a good idea. It’s packed with spices and flavor to make this crowd-pleasing appetizer a little more unique. 
  • Crispy Rice Jambalaya with Chive Corn Muffins: While the jambalaya may be the main course, the real star is the chive corn muffins that get served alongside this dish.

Scallion and Green Onion Recipes

Freeze Dried Scallions: Balance out the flavors in any dish with a dash of freeze dried scallions. Their bright flavor is an excellent addition to any sauce, dip, soup, or stew. 

Shop all Onion & Garlic. Explore the world of onion by going Behind the Seasoning to learn more about Garlic, Shallots, and Onion.

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