Dive into all things chives, from what they are and how to use them to storage tips and recipes. Spoiler alert: They’re not garlic or onions!
A world of their own, chives are an herb that tends to get unfairly roped in with green onions. People often think they’re eating the similar-looking onion plant, not even realizing they’re actually enjoying good old chives!
But, it’s a fair mistake. Chives and green onions look eerily alike, and it’s very easy to mistake one for the other in the produce aisle. So today, we’re covering everything you need to know about chives. My goal is that once you’ve read this, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the stringy green herb!
Are chives garlic or onion?
If they’re not onions, what are they? Garlic? Nope, chives are technically neither onion nor garlic. Despite their appearance, they’re technically an herb, their own herb! However, they’re also classified as alliums. Which is the same family as garlic and onions. I know, I know.
Chives vs Green Onions
You can separate them from green onions if you look closely. Where green onion sprigs are wide and fade from green to white at the root, chives are green all the way through. The sprigs are much thinner and have a rounder shape with pointy ends (where green onion sprigs tend to be sort of hollow and flat).
When it comes to flavor, green onions have a stronger “onion” flavor, and chives taste much milder (but still slightly oniony).
Now, things get confusing when we consider garlic chives. These have wider, flatter sprigs and taste more like garlic. You can easily decipher one for the other if the plants have flowers – regular chives have purple flowers, and the garlic variation have white.
Note: If you’re wondering about scallions, a scallion is just another name for a green onion!
What are chives used for?
Chives work well as a garnish for nearly any type of savory dish: plant-based meats, vegetables, potatoes, omelettes, soups, etc. They can also be cooked into recipes to add extra flavor! However, they should always be added toward the end of the cooking process to preserve the flavor (heat can make them milder).
Where to buy them
You can find chives in your produce section. They typically hang out near the green onions or herbs! Look for a bunch that feels firm and is solid green in color. Avoid bunches that appear wilted, droopy, or brown.
They are in season in the spring and fall, so your tastiest bunches will be found during those months.
Can you replace chives with green onions?
You can absolutely replace them with green onions or vice versa. However, remember that green onions have a more potent flavor! You may not want to use a 1:1 ratio depending on the dish. If you need a milder garnish, start with less green onion and add more to taste if needed. They also have differing textures, so remember this before making the swap.
how to store them
Chives store like many other herbs. To keep them fresh for longer, wrap them in a damp paper towel and secure the bunch inside a plastic bag. This locks in moisture while preventing air flow from wilting the greens. If you notice wilting or browning, you likely need a fresh bunch.
how to cook with them
You can use chives wherever you’d like extra flavor. Use them as a garnish for a nice, bright layer of texture and flavor on top of a dish. Throw them into a sauce, soup, or dressing, or use them as a seasoning or marinade!
If there’s one thing to remember about the herb, it’s that they don’t mix well with heat. When they hit higher temperatures, their taste diminishes! Stick with using them as a garnish or adding them to hot recipes at the very last minute.
(Not sure how to cut chives? It’s similar to cutting green onions!)
Try the herb in these recipes
Now that you’re schooled in all things chives, try adding some to a recipe! Here are some ideas to choose from.