Two onions that look like twins, but are they even from the same family? Chives vs green onions – let’s break it all down!
Chives and Green Onions: What’s The Difference?
Are chives green onions? Nope. Chives are a completely different plant species than green onions, also known as scallions. While green onions are vegetables classified as alliums, chives are grouped with types of herbs – like parsley and basil. Compared to heartier green onions, chives are thinner and more fragile.
We should clarify a common question before we go further. Are scallions and green onions the same thing? Yes! They are two names for the same plant. If you want to read about why there are two names, check out the FAQs at the bottom of the article. Now let’s move on with chives vs. scallion.
One of the most noticeable differences between chives and green onions is in their appearance. Chives are thinner and smaller than green onions, with thin, grass-like leaves. Chives also have a lighter green color than green onions, and their stems are hollow.
Green onions, on the other hand, have thicker larger leaves. The stems of green onions are also thicker than found with chives, and are typically white at the base and green at the top. Chives are completely green.
Another key difference between chives and green onions is their flavor. Chives have a mild, delicate onion flavor that is often described as slightly sweet or grassy. Chives are much milder than green onions, but still have an “oniony” taste.
Green onions, on the other hand, have a stronger, more pungent onion flavor that is often described as slightly spicy or sharp. Green onions are milder than traditional white or yellow bulbing onions, though their white bulb is noticeably more pungent than the green stems.
Now, things get confusing when we consider garlic chives. These have wider, flatter sprigs and taste more like garlic. You can easily tell one for the other if the plants have flowers as regular chives have purple flowers, and the garlic variation have white.
While you may think chives are chives, there are actually different types of chives.
- Common chives are the variety you are probably most familiar with and are clearly the most widespread variety. They have a mild onion flavor, and their green leaves are round and hollow.
- Garlic chives have a subtle garlic flavor. You can also distinguish them by their green, flattened leaves.
- Siberian chives also have a mild onion flavor, although the leaves are a bit longer and bluer than common chives.
Similarly, there are a few different types of green onions. Common types include:
- Scallions: An immature onion that is harvested before the white bulb begins to swell.
- Green onions: Harvested later in the life cycle, green onions have a slightly swollen and oblong bulb.
- Spring onions: Harvested close to the same time as green onions, but generally planted in fall and harvested after winter. Since there’s more time to mature, spring onions usually have a round, more pronounced white bulb.
Both chives and green onions are low in calories and high in nutrients. Chives are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron. They are also high in antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation and protect against chronic diseases. Green onions are similarly a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as folate, calcium, and potassium. Green Onions further contain a compound called allicin, which has antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Chive Nutrition Info: According to the USDA, 100 grams of chives contains the following. (Oh, and we know you aren’t apt to eat 100g (3.5 ounces) of chives at once, but we use this amount to make nutritional comparisons easy).
- 30 Calories
- 4.4g of Carbohydrates
- 2.5g of Fiber
- 1.9g of Sugar
- 96% of the RDA of Vitamin C
- 8% of the RDA of Iron
- 5% of the RDA of Folate
- 9% of the RDA of Calcium
If you want yet more nutrition information as well as tips on how to select, store, cut, and use chives check out our guide.
Are Chives Keto Friendly? Yes. According to the USDA, even a large 100 gram serving only contains 1.9 grams of net carbs (total carbs minus dietary fiber). Chives can easily be used as a keto seasoning without fear of breaking your carb allowance.
Green Onion (Scallion) Nutrition Info: Green Onions are very similar as USDA data shows 100 grams provides:
- 32 Calories
- 7.3g of Carbohydrates
- 2.6g of Fiber
- 2.3g of Sugar
- 32% of the RDA of Vitamin C
- 8% of the RDA of Iron
- 16% of the RDA of Folate
- 6% of the RDA of Calcium
Are Green Onions Keto Friendly? Yes. Green onions are the lowest carb onion. Remember, chives are an herb, or they would be the lowest. According to the USDA 100 grams of green onions only contains 4.7 grams of net carbs, and you aren’t apt to use 100 grams as a serving size.
Chives and green onions are used in different ways in the kitchen. Chives are used as a garnish or seasoning, and are commonly used to add flavor to dishes like omelets, baked potatoes, and salads. They are also used in dips, dressings, and sauces. Chives should always be added toward the end of the cooking process to preserve the flavor (heat can make them milder).
Green onions, on the other hand, are often used as a main ingredient in dishes like stir-fries, soups, and stews. They can also be grilled, roasted, or sautéed, and are a popular topping for tacos, nachos, and other Mexican-inspired dishes.
We are often asked “can I use chives as a substitute for green onions?”. You can absolutely replace them with green onions or vice versa. Remember, however, that green onions have a more potent flavor! You likely do not want to replace chives with green onions 1:1. Our best advice is to add less green onion initially and then add more to taste if needed. They also have differing textures, so consider this before making the swap. While chives are a great scallion substitute, shallots will also work.
You should store both chives and green onions in the same manner. Both easily dry out and wilt if not stored properly. Put them in a ziploc style bag and remove as much air from the bag before sealing then pop them in the refrigerator (grab our storage guide to chives here).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Mexican green onions? Mexican green onions are a variety of green onions allowed to mature longer than is typical for green onions. The result is a larger white bulb.
Is freezing chives advisable? Absolutely. To freeze chives, chop them finely, seal in a baggie – removing as much air as possible – and toss them in the freezer.
Can I pickle green onions? Yes. Pickled green onions are quick and simple to prepare. Check out our guide on Quick Pickled Vegetables.
Can green onions be dehydrated? Yes, and dehydrated green onions or chives are a great option for camping meal prep or just having for immediate use. If you don’t have a dehydrator, check your grocery store or just order them on Amazon.
How much does a bunch of green onions weigh? A bunch of green onions is typically 6 to 8 onions, weighing on average 105 grams (a little less than 4 ounces).
Are scallions and green onions the same thing? Yes, they are two names for the same plant. The term scallion comes from the Ancient Greek word askolonion which was a reference to the port of Ashqelon considered by the Greeks to be the home of the onion.