Scallions vs. Green Onions: What's the Difference?

By: Marie Look  | 
When a recipe calls for scallions, you can safely substitute the ingredient for green onions ... because they're the same thing. Juanmonino / Getty Images

You've probably seen people and recipes use the terms "scallions" and "green onions" interchangeably — and for once, the conflation is correct. When it comes to distinguishing scallions vs. green onions, these terms describe the same vegetable.

The only difference between the two is regional terminology.


Scallions and green onions are simply different names for the species Allium fistulosum, a member of the onion family. Known for their long green stalks and a mild, subtle onion flavor, these green stalks are a staple in various dishes worldwide, from stir-fry to soups.

The Allium Family

Scallions and green onions belong to the same family of plants. Specifically, they belong to the Allium genus. Other alliums include spring onions, the Welsh onion (Allium fistulosum), the common onion (Allium cepa), shallots, leeks and garlic.

These members of the onion family do not form bulbs like their regular bulb onion cousins do. Instead, they develop straight, edible green leaves and a white part that offers a milder flavor than regular onions.


Green Onions vs. Spring Onions

Spring onions are slightly different. People often confuse them with green onions, but they're actually a less mature version of the same plant.

You can easily tell a spring onion apart from an immature onion because a spring onion has a bulb and a stronger flavor than a scallion, although chefs and home cooks use them similarly in cooking.


Taste Profile

Green onions, aka scallions, have a grassy flavor with a subtle bite to it.

When a recipe calls for a touch of onion flavor, a scallion or green onion is the perfect ingredient. This savory yet mild flavor makes them an especially good addition to dishes if you want something less potent than the strong flavors of regular bulb onions or garlic.


The flavor of green onions and scallions can be nuanced, depending on what part of the plant you taste.

The green part of the plant has a fresh, mild taste, making it perfect for finishing your salads, garnishing roasted dishes and enhancing sandwiches. The white part, with its slightly stronger taste, is better for creating a distinct flavor base when you're cooking soups, stews or sauces.


Culinary Uses

A sprinkling of chopped scallions or green onions can improve not only the taste of your dish but also the appearance, making any recipe look even more appetizing.

You can use green onions and scallions raw or cooked, making them versatile ingredients in the kitchen. The strength of the flavor comes down mainly to the part of the plant you use and when you add the ingredient in the cooking process.


Whether you mix them into a cheese and green onion sandwich, sprinkle them as a garnish on soups, or stir them into a pot of aromatic stew, they'll add a subtle onion flavor to your food without overwhelming the dish.

The delicate flavor of scallions and green onions pairs particularly well with eggs, cheese and sour cream. These vegetables are common in Asian recipes, such as stir-fry dishes, and if you enjoy herbs, you can use the green tops of the scallions similarly to how you would fresh chives (which, coincidentally, is also an allium — Allium schoenoprasum).

We created this article in conjunction with AI technology, then made sure it was fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.