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

How to tell chives from green onions, and what you need to know about substituting one for the other.

Sure, green onions and chives look alike and taste somewhat similar — but are they the same thing? Plus, can you substitute one for the other? Here's what you need to know:


chopped and whole fresh chives on cutting board with knife
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Chives are the edible leaves and stems of the Allium schoenoprasum plant. They belong to the allium family, so they are closely related to onions, leeks, and scallions (more on that later).

Fresh chives are long, thin, and hollow. The tubular stem looks kind of like a green straw.

What Do Chives Taste Like?

Chives have an onion-y taste, but they're much milder than regular red or yellow onions. They taste very similar to leeks. Worried about bad breath? Don't be. Even if strong onions tend to hang around the back of your mouth longer than they're welcome, chives won't leave you with any noticeable "onion breath."


The sharp, yet delicate and palatable, flavor of chives makes them perfect for using fresh as a garnish, and they are most often considered an herb. Use chives to top your baked potatoes, soups, omelets, and more. Really, you can use them anywhere you want a crisp pop of flavor and fresh green color. The only thing you don't want to do with chives is cook them for a long time — their delicate flavor and texture can't withstand high heat.


Just wrap the chives in plastic wrap and store them in the fridge for up to a week. Make sure not to wrap them too tightly, though, as you don't want to trap any moisture that could cause your chives to mold faster.


Chop up some fresh chives and whip up one of these flavorful recipes:

Find more chive recipes here.

Green Onions (Scallions)

chopped and whole green onions on a wooden cutting board
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Like chives, green onions are members of the allium family. And like chives this vegetable has tender green leaves, although green onions are sold with their white bulbs and stringy white roots attached. Don't let the labels in the produce section confuse you: Green onions and scallions are the exact same thing. Like chives, green onions are long, thin, and and their leaves are mostly hollow.

What Do Green Onions Taste Like?

Green onions have two parts — the white bottoms and the green tops — that taste different from one another. The white bulb has a sweet, onion-y flavor and the soft green tops are fresh-tasting and slightly pungent.

Though they are milder than regular onions, green onions are not as mild as chives. You can use them as an onion substitute in a pinch, but be aware that they won't pack quite the same punch.


Green onions are mild enough to eat raw, so they're often served fresh as a garnish or in salads. They do withstand heat a bit better than chives, so you'll sometimes find them in stir-frys or other cooked dishes. Still, they're often added toward the end of the cooking process so they stay nice and crisp.


Loosely wrap your green onions in plastic wrap and stick them in the crisper drawer. They should stay fresh there for about four to five days. You can keep them fresh for a bit longer if you store them like you would flowers — upright and in a jar with shallow water. Loosely cover your green onion bouquet and leave it in the fridge for about a week.

side by side photo of fresh whole green onions and fresh whole chives
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Did all this green onion talk make you hungry? We've got you covered:

Find more green onion recipes here.

Can You Substitute One for the Other?

a top-down view of a baked potato, split open and topped with sour cream and chopped chives

Yes, you can absolutely substitute fresh green onions for fresh chives and vice versa. Keep in mind that green onions are more pungent than chives, so you may want to adjust your measurements or skip the swap altogether if you're sensitive to strong flavors.

You can also use chives in a stir-fry in place of green onions, just make sure to add them at the very end of the cooking process so they stay crisp and flavorful.

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