Scallion Substitutes – 7 Veggies With Onion Flavor

Scallions, aka green onions, are a common ingredient in many recipes across the world. It’s somewhat similar to chives which is often used as a substitute for green onions.

Onion scallion chicken or a simple green onions stir-fry tastes amazingly delicious. Just tossing a spoon of sliced scallions into your soup or over the salad adds a sweet onion flavor to them.

So to say, they’re a must-have vegetable in every kitchen for their uses in numerous recipes.

Now the question arises, what to do when you don’t have a scallion? What to use in place of green onions?

This article examines the best scallion substitute to use in a pinch, and also brief notes on their taste profile and uses in cooking.

What Are Scallions?

Scallions belong to the species of plants in the genus of Allium. Other vegetables from the onion family like garlic, chives, leeks, shallot, and common onions are cousins of scallions.

Green onions grow in clumps and they develop into hollow tube-like leaves with a dark green color towards the top. A scallion is made up of a white base and long green stalks that resemble chives. Fresh young green onions are identified by their slender shape and mild flavor.

Both the green and white parts of the stem are eaten either cooked or raw.

In most places, scallions are available at grocery stores year-round. If they aren’t available in your region, using a scallion substitute is the simplest solution.

Scallion vs Green Onions

Are scallions the same as green onions? Yes. They are one and the same thing. The terms “green onion” and “scallion” are used interchangeably in most places. Since they grow in bunches, in some regions they are also known as “bunching onions”.

Some call them “spring onions’ but that is a mistake. Spring onions are bulb onions but scallions don’t develop a bulb at the base.

What Does Scallion Taste Like?

The white bottom of the scallion tastes like white onion but sweeter and less pungent. The white portion also has a sharp sulfur-like taste common to all alliums. On the other hand, the green part is distinctively oniony with an additional fresh grassy flavor.

Comparatively, green onions are milder than most other varieties of onion. Just harvested fresh scallions have a strong smell like the onions that are bright and earthy.

If you aren’t fond of their mild onion flavor try out a strong-flavored green onion substitute in your recipe.

How Is Scallion Used In Cooking?

Green onions are entirely edible, from their white fleshy base to the top green stalks. They can be eaten raw, boiled, sautéed, or roasted. There are several Asian, Latin American, and Mediterranean dishes that compulsorily include green onions.

Scallions with mild flavor are a wonderful addition to salads, soups, and potato dishes. Raw green onions taste great when they are pickled or fermented in kimchi. Scallions work well in many stir-fry dishes, some of them using only the white base and others whole stalks.

What To Look For In A Green Onion Substitute?

While choosing a substitute for green onions aka scallions, look for alternatives that have a similar flavor profile. The tube-like leafy green texture of scallions is important in some recipes. To be specific, their substitutes could have the following features:

  • vegetables belonging to the allium family of plants
  • hollow tube-like stalks with white bases and green tops
  • oniony or garlicky flavor with mild sweetness or a pungent kick
  • versatile veggies usable in raw, sautéed, roasted, stir-fried, or boiled dishes.

What Is A Good Scallion Substitute?

Green onions/scallions being a part of the genus Allium, several other onion varieties have the same flavor. Since green onions are mild and sweet, direct substitution can be complicated. However, the guiding principle is to substitute bulbs for bulbs and leaves for leaves.

We have hand-picked a couple of excellent substitutes for scallions to use in your recipes. Here are the seven alternatives for green onions:


Chives are an excellent replacement for green onions, especially as a garnish. They are feeble and milder than scallion, thus they won’t give you the same crunch and flavor. Use chives in more quantities to elevate the flavor to the level of scallions. It’s always wise to do a taste test before you add more chives to your dish. Chives work great in salads, soups, dips, and egg dishes.  If you wish to enjoy a stronger garlicky flavor, then use the garlic chives to sub scallions instead of the common chives.

Spring onions

Many people think that spinning onions and scallion are one and the same but they are not. Undoubtedly, spring onions are the closest substitute for scallions because of their perfect similarity. The only noticeable difference between them is that spring onions are bulbous at the base, unlike scallions.

The greens of both these Alliums can be used interchangeably in most recipes that call for them. The stronger flavor of spring onions calls for using them in less quantity as a substitution for green onions.


Like green onions, leeks also belong to the same onion species but they differ in size and taste. Leeks, bigger than scallions in size, have a mild-onion-like taste with a bit of sweetness. It’s the taste that relates to these two varieties of onions.

The white base of the leeks stalks is more suitable to be used in place of scallions. The white potion has a pleasant taste akin to green onions. Leeks taste best when they are sautéed, fried, boiled, or roasted. Use them in the same way you use scallions in your recipes.


While shallots have a stronger and more garlicky flavor, scallions have a milder flavor. Shallots taste great when they are cooked or caramelized and have a gentle sweetness, something very similar to an onion.

Shallots are a wonderful alternative to green onions, especially in soups and stews. In place of scallions, you may use shallots for garnishing your dish as well.


Scapes, the green shoots of a garlic plant, have a close similarity to scallions in taste and appearance. Of course, by virtue of being a garlic plant, they are more garlicky in taste than scallions.

Like green onions, the entire parts of scapes are edible and they are most used in pestos and other purees. Use scapes to substitute scallion for garnishing or to make a stir-fry. While substituting, use scapes in a little more amount than scallions as they have a mild flavor.

Scapes are a manageable scallion substitute but they are not easily available in most places.

Brown onions

The brown onion or yellow onion has a stronger flavor than green onions. Also, most people wouldn’t enjoy the taste of raw brown onions with a pungent oniony flavor. Thus, you may use brown onions as a substitute for scallions when you’re left with no other better alternatives like chives, spring onions, or leeks. As a substitute, brown onions work best in stir-fried or roasted dishes.


Ramps, also known as wild leeks, have a stronger pungent garlicky taste than scallions. Cooking diminishes their flavor to a significant level.

Just like green onions, they can be eaten raw or cooked, thus usable in most dishes that call for green onions. The downside of using ramps as a scallion substitute is their unavailability in most places.

Final Thoughts

Scallions, part of the Allium genus like garlic, chives, leeks, shallots, and onions, can be substituted with several alternatives. Chives work well as a garnish, offering a milder flavor. Spring onions, closely resembling scallions but with a bulbous base, can be used in lesser quantities due to their stronger flavor.

Leeks, with a mild onion-like taste, are suitable for cooking, while shallots add a garlicky flavor to dishes. Scapes, from garlic plants, provide a garlicky taste and are useful in pestos. Brown onions, stronger in flavor, are ideal for cooked dishes, and ramps, with a pungent taste, can be used both raw and cooked.

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