Green Onions vs. Spring Onions vs. Chives

There is simply a plethora of dishes and recipes that are topped with greens. Depending on which greens are used, dishes can become more spicy, pungent, sweet, minty, or loaded with other flavors. Among the most popular greens that are topped on dishes include spring onions, green onions, and chives.

So, what are the differences between these leafy greens, and which one is the best for your needs? This article will give you quite a revelation about these culinary ingredients that not only take your dishes to the next level.

About Green Onions, Spring Onions, and Chives

chives vs spring onions vs green onions

The green onions, spring onions chives, regular onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots belong to the Allium genus plant species that are cultivated.

Just by looking at green onions, spring onions, and chives, it can be confusing and at times hard to tell one from the other. They almost have the same physical characteristics such as their color, texture, and even size. However, each green has its own distinct traits and its particular use.

Being able to know their differences, as well as their particular use, will provide you with confidence in how to use these ingredients more effectively to bring the best flavor in each dish or recipe.

Green Onions

green onions

The first leafy green that we’ll scrutinize is the green onion (Allium fistulosum) which is also referred to as scallions. There have been a lot of discussions and claims that the green onion is the same as the scallion. While there is truth to this, there is also a bit of a difference. Scallions are harvested at an earlier stage while green onions are harvested at a later stage.

One discerning factor between the two stages would be their bulb. The scallion would have smaller white bulbs while the green onion would be bigger and almost ready for harvesting. Usually, the scallion’s bulb would have a width that is the same as the stem of the plant.

What people love about scallions and green onions is their peppery taste, and that they can be eaten raw or topped on freshly cooked dishes. They are also well-loved leafy greens because they are available in any season and are usually inexpensive.

With green onions and scallions, as the bulbs get bigger, the leaves also get thicker and bitter. When buying green onions and scallions in the grocery store or market, look for bright green leaves along with small bulbs.

Spring Onions

spring onions

Spring onions (Allium fistulosum) can be hard to tell from scallions and green onions because they are the same plant that is harvested at a later stage than scallions or green onions. The only discerning factor is the size of its bulb. As spring onions are harvested at a later stage their bulbs are a lot bigger than other leafy greens mentioned on this list.

Another reason why they’re called spring onions is for the reason that the seeds are planted during the fall and immediately harvested during the spring. So, if you want to take hold of spring onions for your next dish, the best time to buy them would be during spring when it is fresh and very affordable.

Spring onions are the more mature form of green onions which makes their taste more intense and pungent. Since they are young onions, the bulbs can sometimes have different colors ranging from yellow to white and the usual violet. Spring onions are a great substitute for green onions or scallions especially if you want to intensify the flavor of your dish.



Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are somewhat like scallions and green onions however they belong to a different species of the Allium genus. While green onions, scallions, and spring onions belong to the family of vegetables, chives are considered an herb and are grouped among other herbs such as basil and parsley.

A unique feature seen in chives when compared to the other leafy greens mentioned in this list is that the entire chives plant is colored green, from leaves to stem, and fades down to the roots. Its leaves are also thinner and shorter as compared to the other leafy greens from this list.

Chives are usually harvested and sold without roots. They are cut from the stem just above the ground. Cutting above the ground would then allow for regrowth and harvest after a few weeks.

There are also different varieties of chives to choose from. The most common type of chives are onions that have hollow leaves with oniony flavor or wild chives. Then there is the garlic chive (Allium sativum) which is different with its flattened leaves with moderate garlic flavor. And lastly, the Siberian chive, which is a milder version of the common chive, but the leaves are a bit longer and have a hint of blue color.

The Wrap Up

Green onions, spring onions, and chives are different kinds of leafy greens used for dishes. While it can be hard to tell one from the other by just looking, knowing the characteristics of each plant as mentioned in this article helps you better identify them.

It is quite interesting that the age of the plant when it is harvested affects what it is called. Younger onions are classified as green onions or scallions while older onions are then spring onions. Chives are classified as an herb, and they can also come from garlic.

As we have seen, when it comes to flavor, the older the greens, the more intense its flavor. So, if you want to balance your dish with an intense flavor then chives or spring onions would be a good choice. Whereas if you want a moderately spicy and pungent flavor added to your dish then the green onion or scallion would be a good avenue to take.

To conclude, green onions vs spring onions vs chives have all their own differences that set them apart from each other. Although they are different, they can be used for the same purpose of intensifying the flavor of a dish. While it greatly improves taste, it also improves the aesthetics of a dish.


1. Are green onions, scallions, and spring onions the same thing?

These are the same plant but depending on when they are harvested, they are named differently. Scallions are the youngest stage of the plant; green onions would be the next stage with slightly larger bulbs and spring onions is when the plant is harvested at a much more mature stage with the bulbs like mini onions.

2. Are green onions and shallots, scallions, and spring onions the same thing?

Green onions and shallots are the same thing. Green onions are called shallots in some countries like Australia, scallions in America and spring onions in the UK.

3. How are green onions, spring onions, scallions, and shallots different from regular onions?

Green onions, spring onions, scallions and shallots are all from the Allium fistulosum species and don’t develop the round bulb as regular onions do.

4. What part of the green onions can be used in cooking?

The whole plant can be used for cooking except the roots. Usually, the bulb is used as a regular onion and the green leaves as garnish.

5. What are the health benefits of green onions?

Onions, green onions, leeks all have quercetin which is an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. This reduces toxic and inflammatory chemicals in the body.

6. Are green onions better eaten raw?

Raw onions contain sulfur that reduces cholesterol, breaks down blood clots, lowers risks of heart disease and stroke.

7. Why do green onions make you cry?

Sulfur content in green onions or onions in general is what makes them have a strong smell and sharp taste. It is also what makes you cry.

8. What are the health benefits of chives?

Chives are dense with nutrients and low in calories. They have choline and folate which are linked to improving memory functions and reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It also improves the quality of sleep. It is helpful for weight loss, increases hair growth and lowers blood pressure.

9. What part of the chive plant can you eat?

The whole plant is edible.

10. Can you eat raw chives?

Chives are good when eaten raw or cooked. They can be added into soups, stews and stir fries and also be used fresh as garnish.