Chives Versus Green Onions: What’s the Difference?

And can you substitute one for the other?

November 11, 2022
Bunch of green onions on a wood cutting board

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Bunch of green onions on a wood cutting board

Photo by: Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography/Getty Images

Stefania Pelfini, La Waziya Photography/Getty Images

By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

Chives and green onions look similar, but their flavor and cooking applications make them quite different. Here we explore the difference between chives and green onions and how to use both in our favorite recipes.

Spring Onion

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Spring Onion

Photo by: Voraorn Ratanakorn / EyeEm/Getty Images

Voraorn Ratanakorn / EyeEm/Getty Images

What Is a Green Onion?

Scallions are a member of the allium family, which also includes onions, leeks, shallots and garlic. Scallions, also known as green onions, are harvested early before the onion bulb fully forms. Scallions have a small, white base with straight sides and long, slender green stalks that progress from light green to dark green. Both the white and green parts are used in cooking and can be consumed raw or lightly cooked, like grilled, sauteed in stir fries or folded into savory pancakes. Scallions are sometimes mistakenly called spring onions, but they are not the same thing—spring onions have a larger, more bulbous white base. For a more in-depth look, check out our guide What Are Scallions?

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Photo by: Isabelle Rozenbaum & Frederic Cirou/Getty Images

Isabelle Rozenbaum & Frederic Cirou/Getty Images

What Is a Chive?

Chives belong to the allium family of vegetables and herbs (more specifically the delicate herb category). Chives are long, slender, hollow green tubes that resemble thin straws or blades of grass. Chives have a pronounced grassy, onion flavor. Because they’re so delicate, chives are typically used raw as a garnish or added toward the end of cooking time to add a pop of green and an oniony bite. Chives pair well with dishes incorporating eggs, potatoes, chicken, fish and seafood.

What Are Garlic Chives?

Garlic chives, also known as Chinese chives, belong to a different plant family. They have flat, solid stems and a mild garlic flavor. They can be subbed in for regular chives if you’re looking to add more of a garlic flavor profile to a dish.

Chives Vs. Green Onions

Although they both have a mild onion flavor, chives and green onions (aka scallions) are not the same thing. Chives are smaller, thinner, and more delicate than green onions, and they don’t have an edible bulb at the bottom. Compared to green onions, chives have a much milder onion flavor. Both can be used raw, although green onions are sturdy enough to be lightly cooked, such as sauteed in stir fries or grilled. Chives are more delicate and are best added toward the very end of the cooking process or utilized raw as a garnish.

Can You Substitute Chives for Green Onions?

Yes, you can substitute chives for green onions. But bear in mind that chives have a milder flavor profile, so you may need to add more to the dish to achieve a comparable potency of onion flavor. Because chives are more delicate than green onions, limit their exposure to high heat and add toward the end of cooking.

Scallion Recipes


Food stylist: Jamie Kimm
Prop stylist: Marina Malchin

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Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop stylist: Marina Malchin

Bunches of scallions need little more than olive oil, salt and a pinch of cayenne before getting the char treatment. A flourish of fresh lime juice adds a bright zesty note to complement the fresh onion flavor.

Food Stylist - Alison Attenborough

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Food Stylist - Alison Attenborough

These foil grill packets make an easy yet flavorful side dish by pairing the grassy freshness of scallions with earthy sweet potatoes. The balanced bite gets rounded out with aromatic garlic and thyme.

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Minced green scallion tops, parsley and dill are folded with ricotta, cream and eggs to add an herbaceous burst to this centerpiece-worthy tart. Meanwhile, the rest of the scallions are sliced and sautéed in butter till tender, then added to the ricotta mixture along with ham.

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Scallions can stand a little heat, so they retain their fresh crispness even when they’re folded into dough and pan-fried. Scallions are also mild enough to eat raw; here, finely chopped scallions add a fresh oniony bite to the pancake’s accompanying soy dipping sauce.

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Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

Quartered scallion whites are soaked in cold water to tame their bite, then tossed with thinly sliced green parts, cilantro, thin strips of cucumber and serrano chili. The lot is dressed with a chili oil-spiked rice vinegar and sesame oil dressing, making for a fresh, spicy and refreshing bite.

Chive Recipes

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Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

These easy turnovers prove that chive’s delicate onion flavor makes a fine match for cheese. Shredded cheddar and chopped chives are sprinkled on top of rounds of refrigerated biscuit dough, then folded into half-moons, crimped and baked till golden.

Photo by: Justin Walker

Justin Walker

Fresh chives lend an herbaceous onion flair to a butter sauce that gives boiled potatoes an instant upgrade. They also team up with ground coriander to add a grassy, earthy depth to season pan-seared salmon.

Scrambled eggs love soft herbs, and minced chives are no exception. Even better? Ricotta makes the eggs super fluffy and creamy, and its mild tang pairs perfectly with chives’ grassy, tangy onion flavor.

Chives and dill give tender dumplings a delicate onion and herb flavor, while aromatics help bolster store bought broth bobbing with succulent shredded rotisserie chicken. A flurry of fresh herbs finishes it off.

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Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

A combination of butter, sour cream and chives elevate mashed potatoes from humble side kick to scene-stealing side. The chive mashed potatoes make a fine accompaniment to flavorful bone-in, skin on chicken thighs dressed in a lemon-mustard sauce.

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