chives vs green onions vs scallions

Chives vs Green Onions vs Scallions: What Are They and How To Use

When it comes to choosing the best herbs for your dishes, you probably have come across similar vegetables such as scallions, green onions and chives that might have similar look and taste.

If you’re wondering what the differences between them are and how to use them in your cooking, this article is for you.

What Are Chives?

chives

Even though chives tend to be grouped with green onions and scallions, they are a completely different species. Despite belonging to the Allium genus, which is composed of garlic, ginger, and onions, chives are often used as a spice, even if it can be used fresh. 

This vegetable does taste somewhat like onion, but the flavor is less pungent and sweeter. Their stems are extremely narrow, so they are usually cut in very small round pieces that are used to garnish dips, sauces, soups, and stews. 

Nutrition Facts

Chives are very nutritious. They are low in calories but have a high number of micronutrients. A common serving is one tablespoon, which is about 3 grams.

One serving of chives will give you the following nutritional content (*):

  • 0.9 calories
  • 0.098 protein 
  • 0.022g carbohydrates 
  • 0.075 fiber
  • 6.38ug vitamin K 
  • 1.74mg vitamin C
  • 3.15ug  folate
  • 131IU vitamin A
  • 2.76mg calcium
  • 0.048mg iron 
  • 1.26mg magnesium 
  • 1.74mg phosphorus
  • 8.88mg potassium 

Are Chives Good for You?

Chives are very tasty and also very healthy. They contain a wide range of nutrients that can aid your body in different ways. For example, they have a good amount of choline, which helps with mood, memory, muscle control, and other brain functions. 

Since they also contain vitamin K, chives are a good way to help your body with blood clotting. Folate, on the other hand, is a vitamin that prevents not only neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, but also depression, stroke, and inflammation. 

Chives are considered to be anti-inflammatory as well, which helps your body reduce swelling and injury faster. Consuming chives regularly will also regulate your bowel movements so that you can digest food better (*).


What Are Green Onions?

Green Onions

Green onions are the same as scallions, except that these onions have been harvested longer and have a bulb at the bottom.

For most terms and purposes, people refer to green onions and scallions as the same thing, but while they are very similar, green onions do have a technical difference.

In this case, green onions are young onions that could have later grown into a white or red onion. The flavor is milder than a yellow onion, but the flavor of green onions is also more pungent than scallions.

You can use both the long green stems and the bulb, and you can eat them raw as a garnish, or cooked in soups, stews, and meat or fish dishes. 

Nutrition Facts

Because green onions are part of the same family as scallions and onions, they share similar properties, including several micronutrients that are good for you.  One medium green onion will give you the following nutritional content (*):

  • 4.8 calories
  • 2.4mg sodium
  • 0.39g fiber 
  • 0.274g protein 
  • 31µg vitamin K 
  • 10.8mg calcium 
  • 7.5µg vitamin A
  • 2.82mg vitamin C 
  • 0.222mg iron 
  • 41.4mg potassium 

Are Green Onions Good for You?

Like chives, green onions possess very high nutritional value and can be a great addition in making a meal healthier. For starters, because they have high amounts of vitamin K, they help support blood clotting and bone health. 

Since they are part of the Allium family, as are chives and scallions, they possess anti-inflammatory properties, as well as digestive properties that help your gut stay healthier. Finally, they are also good for fighting oxidative stress in your cells that can lead to disease and cancer (*).


What Are Scallions?

Scallions

As mentioned previously, scallions are very closely related to green onions. Some people even consider them the same, but they are technically different.

For starters, scallions are very thin and have no bulb, as they are members of the Allium fistulosum family of Japanese onions that will never form a bulb. 

Scallions have the strongest impact of the three, as the flavor is fresh, slightly onion-like, and a bit citrus. They are often used to accompany dairy dips, fresh fish, and potatoes, but they can also be cooked into soups and stir-fries. 

Nutrition Facts

Like the other two vegetables in this article, scallions consist mostly of water and fiber. However, they are packed with micronutrients that can aid your body in different ways. One medium scallion will give you the following nutritional content (*):

  • 4.8 calories
  • 2.4mg sodium
  • 0.39g fiber 
  • 0.274g protein 
  • 31µg vitamin K 
  • 10.8mg calcium 
  • 7.5µg vitamin A
  • 2.82mg vitamin C 
  • 0.222mg iron 
  • 41.4mg potassium 

Are Scallions Good for You?

Scallions are great for your health. They are high in fiber given their tiny size, and they have a good amount of vitamins and minerals. As with chives and green onions, scallions are high in vitamin K, which helps fight blood clots. 

Also, because they are high in vitamin C, scallions are highly antioxidant and can protect your cells from dangerous damage. Since they are also in the onion family, scallions can help regulate your gut microbiota and bowel movements (*). 


What Are The Key Differences Between Chives, Green Onions, and Scallions?

For starters, chives are a different species from the same genus. They are known solely for their long, skinny stalks, almost leaf-like.

Green onions and scallions, on the other hand, have a thicker stalk and you can use the whole plant. Green onions also differ from chives and scallions because they have a bulb. 

Another key difference between these three vegetables is how they are used. With chives, only the upper green part is used, and mostly as a garnish. With green onions, the whole plant can be used, either as a garnish, or as part of the broth of soups, or in the sauces of stews. With scallions, the whole plant is used as well, but they are mostly used in dairy dishes, and with fish. 

As for cooking, and along with the previous point, chives have to be used raw, as they completely lose their aroma and flavor once cooked. Green onions and scallions can be cooked or used raw, though if you’re using the bulb of the green onion, cooking it is recommended. 

Main DifferencesChivesGreen OnionsScallions
ShapeVery thin round leaves Flat, wide stalk, and wide, round bulbFlat stalk and very small coarser bottom
SizeAbout 12 inches long Between 8 to 24 inchesBetween 10 to 20 inches 
ColorBright green Darker, paler green with a cream white bulb The top is dark green, the middle is a lighter green, and the bottom is cream white.
OriginAsian and EuropeanWelsh, European Greek, European 
Taste and SmellOnion-like taste, with a subtle sulfur aroma Onion and garlic-like taste, with a pungent aroma Earthy, onion-like, citrus flavor, with a fresh aroma
How To CookBest used raw, good for garnish in dips, sauces, and soupsBest cooked or raw, used in sauces, dips, stews, and roastsBest cooked or raw, used in dairy sauces and dips, Asian dishes and sauces, and as a garnish in potatoes
Preparation Method Slice very thinly, best if done with scissors and add raw Thinly slice in circular or round pieces, including the bulb, cook or use rawThinly slice in circular or round pieces, cook or use raw
Calories per 100 gram serving30 calories 27 calories 32 calories 

Are Chives, Green Onions, or Scallions Healthier?

Because chives, green onions, and scallions all belong to the onion family, they share similar properties. However, based on how they are used, preparation methods, and availability though, green onions and scallions offer more fiber and can be cooked, unlike chives.

However, if you are suffering from a gastrointestinal condition, and some foods cause indigestion, then only use the green parts of green onions and scallions, because they are low in FODMAPs.

This means they have a lower content of complex carbohydrates and can be digested more easily. Chives are low in FODMAP as well, but having to eat them raw can make digestion harder (*).

Conclusion

While these three options look very similar, be careful when you choose them. Chives are meant to be used as a spice, and should never be cooked. Green onions are wider and have a bulb, which can be cooked and used too. Scallions are skinny and have a stronger flavor. 

If you are making a dip or a sauce, go with scallions. As for a meat dish or stew, go with green onions. However, if you’re not finding any of these, then use raw chives for garnish.

*Photo by Allchonok, Faithie and ottoblotto/depositphotos

chives green onions scallions differences
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