Scallions vs Green Onions – What’s the Difference?

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Scallions vs Green Onions aren't they the same thing? Then why all the confusion?

No matter where you go, scallions and green onions are essentially the same thing and the names are quite often used interchangeably around the world.

Originally, these names could have been a geographical thing, where the word “scallions” was more New England and mid-Atlantic coastal, though even this doesn’t appear to be a significant distinction anymore.

Not to be confused with chives, for example, green onions or scallions are often used in similar ways whether within a recipe or topped as a garnish. While both green onions and scallions are essentially indistinguishable, it’s what makes them green onions/scallions that separates them from everything else.

Scallions vs Green Onions

Despite the fact the green onion is almost always used to describe the entire plant, green onions are essentially just the green leaves of the onion plant, which could indicate that green onions can come from the onion during any stage of growth. If there is any difference between green onions and scallions, this would be it.

Scallions, on the other hand, demand specific physical characteristics. For example, scallions have a tendency to grow in bunches and they do not form the bulbs you see when the onions begin to grow. If you notice a distinct bulb, you may not be able to accurately characterize them as scallions and they are more likely shallots or just premature onions.

Scallions, however, still have the long green leaves, or “green onions,” extending from the small white root. The green leaves are typically the most common part used in cooking, which is why you can typically use these terms interchangeably. You might even be able to say that all scallions are green onions but not all green onions are scallions.

Flavor Profile

People use green onions or shallots because the flavor isn’t as intense as a full-grown onion, especially considering that the leaves might be the only thing being used. You will still get that oniony flavor but it’s noticeably milder than an onion. Whether the label at the grocery store says scallions or green onions, the flavor is going to be the same.

Just make sure that you are not confusing scallions with shallots or spring onions, which will have a definite bulb at the end. The flavor becomes more and more pronounced the large the bulb becomes so if you are looking for the mildest onion flavor, make sure that you are picking the scallions.


Both green onions or scallions, if you choose to differentiate, are grown year-round and widely available in the produce department of almost all grocery stores.

You’re looking for green leaves that are preferably crisp and unbroken. At the end will be the white root without a bulb. Whether you are calling it a scallion or a green onion, most people will know what you are talking about. If that person doesn’t recognize one of the names, simply use the other and you will be sure to find what you are looking for.