Garlic chives are a great ingredient, especially if you are cooking Asian dishes. They provide exactly the flavor that you might assume from their name. You can use them in Western dishes as well since they may be an interesting alternative to both garlic and chives; however, they are not always easy to find. If you cannot locate this herb, try one of the garlic chives substitutes below to get a similar flavor profile.
Your best bet: The combination of garlic and chives
Garlic chives offer two main flavor notes: garlic combined with chives. The garlic note is much more to the forefront of the flavor profile. All three — garlic, chives, and garlic chives — belong to the Allium genus. For cooks in the west, the garlic and chive combination offers a significant advantage when compared to garlic chives. The advantage is that you are much more likely to see these two herbs in a Western grocery store than you are to spot garlic chives, though you may be able to find it in a store that caters to an Asian clientele.
A decent second choice: Wild garlic
Wild garlic is European in origin but shares many characteristics with the decidedly Asian garlic chives. For starters, the flavor of wild garlic can be likened to a cross between leeks and garlic. In addition to offering a similar taste, wild garlic also provides many of the same health benefits. Unlike garlic chives, wild garlic is usually foraged rather than cultivated.
Wild garlic has a longer history of being used in European cuisine when compared to garlic chives, which means that you may be able to find more traditional European recipes that include it as an ingredient when compared to ones that require garlic chives. For example, there are recipes for pestos as well as soups and sauces that include wild garlic.
In a pinch: Garlic scapes
If you have had garlic bulbs hanging around in your kitchen for a little too long, you may have noticed some of the cloves sprouting. If you fail to use them right away, they can grow into long green tendrils that look similar to the tops of green onions. These are garlic scapes. The ones most often used in Asian cooking have been cut from young garlic plants to ensure that the bulbs grow large. Removing the scape ensures that the garlic plant will put more of its resources into the bulbs rather than into the flowers.
You can use garlic scapes to provide a very similar flavor to both garlic and garlic chives. Note that the most significant difference between garlic scapes and garlic chives will be their texture since garlic scapes are firmer and denser than garlic chives.
Shallots are known for providing a flavor similar to that of garlic chives. Shallots lie more on the onion end of the spectrum rather than the garlic end but are still known for providing a mix of Allium notes.
The most easily identifiable flavor note of garlic chives is garlic. As a result, regular garlic — meaning garlic bulbs — could easily be considered one of the best substitutes for garlic chives from a flavor standpoint. Garlic does not work as a good substitute from an appearance standpoint since it lacks the green stalks that make up the most distinctive visual characteristic of garlic chives. Garlic also has the benefit of being easy to find in both the East and the West and is relatively affordable as well.