Good to Know: Scallions vs Green Onions

Sometimes they’re called scallions, and other times they’re green onions. So, are scallions and green onions the same thing?

Scallions chopped at a diagonal for an easy homemade kimchi recipe.
Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee

Are scallions and green onions the same thing? Let’s answer this question and explore everything you need to know about these awesome, all-purpose alliums.

What Are Scallions?

Most notable for their long green, tubular leaves and lack of a fully developed bulb, scallions are members of the allium genus of the lily family. In the U.S., we use the term “scallions” for both immature onions (a. cepa) whose bulbs have not yet developed, as well as the Welsh onion (a. fistulosum) variety which doesn’t form bulbs. Their flavor is less intense than most onions, making them suitable for eating either raw or cooked. While they’re known as spring vegetables, scallions can be grown year-round. 

Scallions vs. Green Onions

Scallions and green onions are, in fact, the same thing. You might see either term used in recipes or at the grocery store. 

Scallions scattered over dough to make scallion pancakes.
Annika Panikker

Scallions vs. Spring Onions

Unlike scallions, which have straight-sided white bases, spring onions have a small bulb at the end. In terms of flavor, spring onions are sweeter, so they lend themselves to being pickled, braised, or grilled or roasted whole. 

In the UK, the term “spring onions” refers to what we know as scallions or green onions in the U.S. The terminology can get a bit confusing!

How to Chop Scallions

Start by chopping off and discarding the root ends. Next, peel off any wilted outer layers. If you’re chopping multiple scallions, line them up on your cutting board side by side in a single row. Keeping the tip of your knife on the cutting board as you go, slice the scallions from the white base to the ends of the green leaves.

chopped scallions
Elise Bauer

White Parts vs. Green Parts

Some recipes will call for separating the white and green parts of scallions for different uses. The white part tends to be more pungent (but less so than an onion), so it’s generally best for cooking. Meanwhile, the green leaves are milder and have a somewhat grassy flavor, making a lovely garnish.

It can sometimes be difficult to discern where the white part ends, and the green part begins. While the distinction isn’t usually worth losing sleep over, one easy way to differentiate the two is the white part is layered while the green part is hollow. 

Close up view of chopped scallions, chopped green peppers and shredded cheese to make an easy cheese ball.
Nick Evans

How Do You Use Scallions?

Wherever you might want a pop of oniony flavor, you can call on scallions. Raw, you can serve them chopped in salads, in salsas, or as a garnish over meats, fish, or other vegetables. They can be baked into biscuits or folded into mashed potatoes. In Chinese cuisine, scallions are often combined with ginger and garlic as an aromatic base for many dishes. 

How to Store Scallions

Raw scallions or green onions should stay fresh, stored in a plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper, for 1 to 2 weeks. You can also freeze them, chopped or whole, in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to a year.

Recipes That Use Scallions

Ready to enjoy some scallions? Try these recipes to explore a variety of ways to use them: