Chives Vs. Green Onions: SPICEography Showdown

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Green onions and chives are both members of the large and diverse onion family. This family has other members like leeks, shallots and scallions; all these are alliums. Green onions are Allium fistulosum, chives are Allium schoenoprasum while leeks are Allium porrum and shallots are Allium stipitatum. Each of these herbs brings something different to the table. Chives and green onions are two of the most widely available and commonly used. Given that they are related, you may wonder how similar they are. Can you use green onions and chives as substitutes for each other? Do they have different flavors? Below, we will answer these questions by comparing these two herbs. Here is a look at how chives and green onions really compare to each other.

Do chives and green onions resemble each other?

Both consist mostly of long, slender green stalks; however, the stalks of green onions are much thicker. The bulbs are also defined clearly. Chive stalks are thin, resembling grass blades with bulbs that are all but nonexistent. As a result, the entire green onion plant is used when cooking. Only the upper parts of the chive stalks are used. Chives are usually snipped and left to re-grow.

Do chives and green onions differ in flavor?

One of the main differences between chives and green onions has to do with potency. Chives are smaller when compared to green onions, but are more potent. The stronger flavor means that they are best used in smaller amounts. Green onions are mature scallions and as such are more pungent than their younger counterparts, but still less potent than chives; that all changes when these two herbs are cooked. You may have noticed that most recipes containing chives call for them to be used raw. Typically, they get sprinkled onto the dish at the end. Green onion will stand up to cooking much better than chives.

Can you use chives in place of green onions or vice versa?

The answer to this question is yes, chives can be used as a substitute for green onions; however, you will have to keep the potency difference in mind. You will not get the same amount of flavor from an equal volume of chives. In fact, you may need to multiply the quantity by six when using chives in place of green onions. A recipe requiring a single bunch of green onions may require six bunches of chives. Similarly, you need a sixth as much green onion when using it as a chive replacement.

Are green onions and chives used in the same ways?

Because chives are best when raw, they are most often used for salads and as a garnish that can provide an onion flavor without large chunks of onion. For example, you can use chives to finish soups or for deviled eggs. You can use green onions for any dish where large pieces of onion are desirable, which includes both cooked preparations and raw ones. Add green onions to stir-fries and braised dishes as well as to salads and sandwiches.