Difference between Chives, Scallions, and Green Onions

By: | Updated: Feb-10, 2020
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Cooks often get confused when a recipe calls for chives, scallions, or green onions. This is because they all look so much alike. So how do we differentiate these plants from one another? Continue reading this article to determine how chives, scallions, and green onions are differentiated.

Summary Table

Chives Scallions Green Onions
Long, hollow, green stems; narrower than scallion stems

Tender green leaves with stiff white stalks and stringy white roots

Younger than green onions and have a slimmer white bulb.

Leaves are usually narrower than the bulb and are hollow and oval in shape

Harvested when they are older than scallions, with a slightly wider white bulb at the bottom

Have a slight onion taste but are milder than scallions Have the sharp aromatic flavor of regular onions

Have a strong, sweet, and robust flavor that is more pungent than traditional onions



Chives belong to the onion family; however, they are usually considered herbs. These herbs have long, hollow, green stems. They have a flavor that is reminiscent of onions, but they are much less pungent. Chives are often used for garnishing potatoes, eggs, soups, and salads.


Scallions are young onions and can be used in place of chopped onions in certain recipes. They have tender green leaves with stiff white stalks, stringy white roots, and slim white bulbs. Scallions also have the characteristic sharp, aromatic flavor of onions. These young onions are perfect for cooking and adding to salads, sauces, and salsas.

Green onions

Green Onions are young onions that are often used in ethnic cuisine. The leaves of green onions are narrower than its bulb. At the bottom, the white bulbs are slightly wide and are oval in shape. Green onions have a strong, sweet flavor, which is more pungent than traditional onions. This type of onion is delicious when grilled, and it is also great for stir-fried dishes.

Chives vs Scallions vs Green Onions

The main difference between chives, scallions, and green onions is in the appearance of the stems and in the taste. All three have long green stems but chives are the smallest and thinnest. Scallions have stiff white bulbs at the bottom and tender green leaves on the top. Green onions have oval bulbs at the bottom with narrow leaves above.

When it comes to taste, chives are flavorful and have a taste similar to onions but less pungent. The taste of scallions is closest to onions, having the characteristic sharp, aromatic flavor. That is why scallions can often be used in place of chopped onions in certain dishes. Green onions have a strong, sweet flavor that is even more pungent than a regular onion.

Chives are often placed atop certain dishes as a garnish, to add flavor and color. They are also usually mixed with cream cheese as a spread on top of bagels. Scallions are great in soups, salads, sauces, and even for salsas. Green onions go well in grilled and stir-fried recipes.

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