Storage Tips

The Simple Trick That Will Keep Scallions Fresher, Longer

How to make the most of these green, oniony alliums.

February  7, 2023
Photo by MJ Kroeger

We’re putting aside the confusion about scallions vs. green onions for a second (they’re the same thing, for the record) to talk about how to store these alliums. When you pick up a bunch of scallions from the grocery store, you’ll find that they’re delicately packed into bundles and stacked into piles. But because of their thin skin, they don’t last long without proper care. Don’t just throw them in the back of your fridge and toss a package of deli meat, more produce, and a bottle of sparkling water on top. Treat them with some care, dang it!

Think of scallions like flowers. They need moisture to stay fresh and are best when they’re upright. So we’re going to make a bouquet of them: Grab a mason jar or tall glass and submerge the scallions' roots in an inch or two of water. Leave the green tops out of the water while keeping the white parts generously damp. From here, you can store them on a windowsill (because who doesn’t need a little bit of sunshine), or in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf.

If you’ve experienced one too many spills using this method with other types of produce (been there, done that) and want to forgo it altogether, there’s another trick that will keep scallions fresh for days. Wrap the scallions gently in a damp paper towel, tuck them into an airtight zip-top bag, and store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. And always, always, always label and date the bag or container that you’re storing scallions in so that you know exactly what they are and when to toss them out (if they start to wilt, that’s a good indication that they’ve seen better days).

To prepare scallions for stir-frys or sautés, cut off the root (compost it to avoid food waste!) before cooking. Or, keep the scallions raw and thinly slice them for a crunchy garnish. Not sure where to start? Here are five recipes that celebrate the scallion in all its forms.

Recipe Ideas for All Your Fresh Scallions

1. Spicy Scallion Pasta With Ricotta

Scallions take center stage in this spicy, creamy pasta dish. The sauce comes together in about the same amount of time it takes to boil rigatoni (or whatever your preferred short pasta shape is), meaning it’s an undeniably weeknight-friendly meal.

2. Brown Butter-Maple Romesco With Charred Scallions

For the first installment of Food Editor Emily Ziemski’s column Plus One, she turned to the humble scallion for inspiration. “With a quick char, the scallions are tenderized and their sharp bite is rendered mellow,” she writes. A garlicky romesco sauce, enriched with brown butter, completes the dish.

3. My Mother's Lebanese Tabbouleh

This tabbouleh finds the ideal balance between satisfying bulgur, cooling vegetables like cucumber and tomato, and zingy herbs and aromatics. Scallions play a key role in creating the latter, alongside curly parsley, mint, and lemon juice.

4. Win Son's Bacon, Egg & Cheese Scallion Pancake

A classic breakfast sandwich is made even better when, instead of two slices of bread, the bacon, egg, and cheese are wrapped in a flaky, crispy scallion pancake. The Taiwanese American dish, featured in the new cookbook from the founders of Win Son Bakery, is bound to become your new breakfast standard.

5. Crispy Yangnyeom Chickpeas With Caramelized Honey From Eric Kim

Scallions act as the garnish in this sweet-and-spicy chickpea dish from Eric Kim—but their role is an important one. His trick for soaking strands of scallions in icy water is brilliant for two reasons: The cold water softens the harsh bite of the alliums while also giving them an impressively curled appearance.

What’s your go-to method for storing scallions? Let us know in the comments below!
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Patsymc
  • Terry
  • kmkane123
  • Kmpollock
  • NCdana
Former Food52 Staff Editor


Patsymc July 22, 2022
I like to wash then , cut off the ends, air dry, cut them and put them in a mason jar They are so handy and keep really well
Terry March 27, 2022
I tried the water glass method once or twice and after a few days the water became cloudy and started to smell. However without enough circulation (e.g., sealed up in a plastic bag) they turn ooey, so I just try to maintain the right balance between moisture and air circulation and otherwise try to use them as soon as possible.

The article mentions composting the roots; firstly, my grandfather would have been offended at the idea of tossing them as in his estimation the whites were the ONLY edible part! Secondly as I understand it alliums should not be placed in a worm composter (although they're probably fine for heat composting). So to preserve the onions and the worms I chop them (the onions, not the worms) all the way down, just short of the root hairs, and put the tips in a veggie-scrap bag in the freezer to make vegetable stock.
kmkane123 March 27, 2022
I use Debbie Meyer Green Bags to keep all my produce fresh. These things are a lifesaver! The keep food fresh for days, some even weeks. They make containers too. Everyone should have them. The bags can be used over and over and over.
Cookbaker247 March 27, 2022
I have used still use the green bags but find prepping and freezing vegetables must easier and convenient. I enjoy cooking and baking, prepping is essential for time to getting meals on the table and desserts.
Kmpollock March 27, 2022
These Five Two bags work well! I dampen the mesh bag and place in the outer bag. Love the water/mason jar idea as well:)
NCdana March 27, 2022
Please change writing habits to suggest clean tea towels, cotton napkins-whole or older stained ones cut to a smaller size. I keep a few of those on hand for onions, parsley and cilantro. You can also moisten small cotton cloths sold as paper towel replacements. Couldn’t you say airtight plastic bag OR food storage container? We need to retrain our selves.
Cookbaker247 March 27, 2022
I agree fresh is good, and the towels are great, but when veggies and fruits are on sale I bulk buy. I have three freezers and to refrigerators, I save thousands when I buy in bulk. Yet I still use fresh 89% of the time. Love the towel suggestion will add to my line up. Thank you.
Leslie B. March 27, 2022
Cut the root ends and put them in a pot of soil. Snip to use as they grow. Same with onions. I am on a boat 6 months in islands with few grocery stores.
Cookbaker247 March 27, 2022
I freeze all my onions, green, white, yellow, sweet and scallions. Lay on tray lined with parchment paper. Freezer bag and/or container Great when onions are on sale. Sliced or diced, ready at a moments notice.
Constantreader23 March 27, 2022
In the winter, I throw the discarded roots in a glass of water , making sure I change the water everyday, and I have managed to have enough scallions through the winter as a garnish or accent in a pinch.
Ida S. March 27, 2022
Ida the same with parsley and cilantro.
Cookbaker247 March 27, 2022
Same here, love cilantro. I place in a cup last up to 2.6 weeks. Change water every 3 days. Tested. Tried. Ate.
denajburch March 21, 2022
I love green onions and we use them a lot, especially when the whole family gets together. I saw an idea on one of my garden pages and planted my last batch of root ends! Now I not only have unlimited green onions, I have let them grow to the point of flowering! They are especially attractive to butterflies!
Cookbaker247 March 27, 2022
Great idea. Thank you will try this.
Heather March 19, 2022
I will often buy up to a dozen bunches of scallions. I prep as follows: wash/dry, slice, freeze in a single layer on parchment covered baking sheet. Transfer to a ziploc for future use. I grab a generous handful to char in a frying pan with sesame oil, sprinkle in cold leftover rice until heated through and that prized crust develops. Crack an egg on top, cook to preference and serve with kimchi—current go to breakfast.
Kim S. March 27, 2022
I do the same with leeks and onions. Within a day or so of my market trip, I chop, portion and freeze what won't be used within the next few days (and the trimmings go in their own freezer container for future soup stock).
Ray W. March 19, 2022
As a widower, I follow my wife's directions still. Wrap uncut in aluminum foil and store in fridge. Can keep up to a week depending on store freshness.