What Are Green Onions?

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Green onions are mild tasting, small onions that can be eaten raw, grilled or sauteed. They are often called scallions or spring onions, but there are differences between them that modify the flavor. There are a few distinguishable characteristics of green onions that simplifies locating the correct onion.


Green onions have long, rounded stalks. They have a white end featuring a bulb that varies in size, depending on when they were harvested. Both parts are edible. Scallions are younger than green onions, and don't have a bulb; this is the major distinction between the two. Another difference is that the ends on a scallion are straight, while the green onion's are rounded. The last difference is that the green onion has a slightly stronger taste than the scallion. Spring onions have matured more fully than green onions and have a slightly stronger taste. Negi or naganegi onions are other varieties of green onions.


Select bunches of green onions with uniform size and without blemishes. The green should feel crisp, and the while bulb should be firm.


Unlike a standard onion that has long shelf life, green onions are more perishable, lasting only three to five days in your crisper. The rubber bands should be removed from the base before storing, and keep them unwashed in a paper towel or plastic bag to ensure freshness. They should be kept away from food that can absorb odors, like mushrooms. The tops will begin to wilt when they are losing freshness.

Preparation and Use

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The onions should be washed in cold water, then the roots and very tops of the onion should be trimmed. They can be cooked like a whole vegetable or eaten raw. You can also chop them and use them in many recipes requiring a mild onion flavor. They are also tasty in pasta or potato salads. They can be used interchangeably with scallions and chives, if no green onions can be found.