Scallions & Green Onions Aren’t the Same…Or Are They?

Plus, find out how spring onions fit in.

January 31, 2022
Photo by Julia Gartland

Even though they have different names, scallions and green onions are actually the same vegetable. Spring onions, on the other hand, are a classic third-wheel situation. They’re entirely different. Scallions and green onions are the same type of onion, just sold under different names. Both are part of the genus Allium family (which includes other greens like leeks, garlic, onions, and shallots) and you can use scallions in recipes that call for green onions, and vice versa.

So where do spring onions fit into this? They’re similar. In fact, so similar that after a few too many bartender-made cocktails, you might start to confuse them with scallions and green onions. But one thing that distinguishes them from other onions and scallions is the large white bulb that resembles almost a small cippolini onion. And like those petite onions, the white bulb on spring onions is edible, and has a milder onion flavor.

Its name doesn’t just indicate its seasonality; like a spring chicken, spring onions are literally young onions, plucked earlier, which means that they aren’t so bitter and, well, onion-y tasting.

Ahead, learn how to cook with scallions, green onions, and spring onions (and consider this permission to substitute one for the other at your own convenience).

Scallion Recipes

Skillet Scallions From Edna Lewis

Scallions can be, and deserve to be, so much more than a garnish. This incredible Southern side dish calls for just two ingredients—scallions and butter—so that the stringy green onions can shine.

Cheesy Potato Soup With Peppered Scallions

Okay, yes, you could technically say that the scallions here are just a garnish. But they’re a good garnish that’s so much more than thin slices of scallions in their raw form. Here, they’re cooked down with butter, the juice and zest of lemons, butter and olive oil, salt, and lots and lots of pepper.

Spicy Scallion Pasta With Ricotta

Pasta primavera usually includes a bevy of different seasonal vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and asparagus. But who needs all of that when you have crisp scallions by the bundle on hand? Here, they are sliced thin and sautéed with garlic and Calabrian chili paste before being tossed with the paste.

Scallion Star Bread

This intricately braided bread has scallions peeking through each crevice. Though the star shape is a nod to Christmas, there’s no reason you have to wait to make this.

Spaghetti Pasta with Charred Scallion Sauce

“An extremely untraditional riff on the Italian aglio e olio. Instead of garlic, we’re using scallions. And we’re using a lot of them—three bunches to be exact,” writes food editor Emma Laperruque.

Scallion Pancakes

Everyone will enjoy this homemade riff on a classic Chinese appetizer. Don’t believe us? Our readers call this recipe their all-time favorite pancake preparation.

Green Onion Recipes

Grilled Green Onion Dip (Charred Scallion Dip)

Told ya you can swap one for the other! Scallions (or green onions, for those in the know) is a garlickier, onionier, and all-around simpler version of French onion dip.

"Pizza" Focaccia with Tomato Sauce & Green Onion

Is your heart pulling you in two different directions (being raw or roasted)? This focaccia recipe is the ultimate lesson in compromise, as green onions appear both ways on ways on top of a saucy slice of dough.

What’s your favorite way to cook with these three different (or same) species of onions? Let us know in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Former Food52 Staff Editor