Scallions Vs Green Onions

Scallions vs Green Onions - The Debate Goes On

The phrase scallions vs green onions implies a rather sharp or defined difference between the two, both members of the Allium family. In some instances the two terms are used interchangeably. In other instances a distinction is made between the two, sometimes clear, but more often rather vague or subtle. You can come across articles not only discussing scallions vs green onions, but scallions vs chives, green onions vs leeks, and so on. All four are definitely closely related, but at least in the case of leeks and chives, they are definitely not one and the same.


To make matters all the more complicated, shallot onions are referred to as scallions in several countries, although the shallot onions we're used to seeing in the grocery stores look nothing like the scallions we would see there.

One could probably get by with using the term shallots for green onions, if for no other reason than it makes you sound like you know your vegetables. After all, everyone knows what a green onion is, but ask some people what a scallion is and they either will tell you they don't know, or they think it's a type of ship, or a young juvenile delinquent.

There Are Differences - Here in the United States we tend to use the terms scallions and green onions interchangeably. But, at the risk of splitting a few hairs, there is a discernible difference in the two, or at least to some. Most green onions you would buy have a white root and green leaves, and the white root is beginning to form the familiar bulb shape, but is not quite there yet. Green onions tend to have a bit of a bulb or are at least somewhat rounded. The scallion on the other hand has a very straight root, with at most only the slightest hint of a bulb forming. The scallion is rather like an immature green onion, if there is such a thing.

The major difference when looking into scallions vs green onions is probably the fact that the leaves of the scallion are quite edible and are often used in salads, or in other dishes as a substitute for chives. The leaves of green onions are not edible, or at least not very good should you try to eat them. Scallions are a bit milder than green onions and a bit stronger than are chives.

Mild Tasting Cousins - To confuse the matter still further, immature leeks look for all the world like scallions, but are a somewhat distant cousin to the scallion. While both the bulb and the leaves of the leek are edible (as is the case with the scallion), leeks are almost always used in cooked dishes. If leeks vs chives vs scallions vs green onions have one thing in common, it’s their taste is relatively mild compared to the standard onion. One could even add shallots to the list of milder tasting members of the Allium family.

Those who should know, like Territorial Seeds, say that scallions and green onions are almost identical, hedging things a bit with the word "almost". Scallions do have a taste that is not quite as strong as that of the green onion, which may be validate the statement that the two are not the same species. On the other hand, if scallions are simply immature green onions in the sense they have not yet started to form a bulb, it could be perfectly understandable if the flavor of the scallion is not as strong as that of the green onion.

The bottom line would appear to be - if you want to be able to eat the leaves, ask for scallions.