How to Use Green Onions and Get the Most Out of This Tasty Veggie

Make the most of your green onions with these tips on cutting and storing them to add more color, crunch, and flavor to an endless variety of dishes.

chopped green onions on a cutting board

BHG/Ana Cadena

Green onions or scallions (green onions and scallions are the same, so you can settle the scallions vs. green onions debate once and for all) add flavor and texture to all kinds of recipes. Learning how to slice green onions properly is a must-know cooking skill. Since green onions are shaped differently than traditional onions, it can be tricky to know where to make the first cut and how to use green onions (you can cook with both the white and green parts!).

We'll teach you how to cut green onions expertly, share our tips for adding them to recipes, and teach you how to store green onions so your bundle lasts as long as possible.

To Prep Green Onions

Avoid slimy green onions and keep food safe using these tips to prep your green onions before cutting and adding them to recipes.

  • Rinse onions under cool tap water and remove any wilted or damaged tops or slimy skins on the white parts.
  • Lay several green onions on a cutting surface. Using a chef's knife, trim off the stringy root ends by slicing about ¼ inch above the roots. Discard or compost the roots.
  • Trim about 2 inches from the green tops. Compost or discard the trimmed tops.
green onions with root end cut off on a cutting board

BHG/Ana Cadena

How to Cut Green Onions

Using a chef's knife, cut the trimmed green onions crosswise into slices. Slice the onions according to the length specified in your recipe or use these guidelines:

  • For garnishes, salads, salsas, and other recipes in which the onion will not be cooked, cut green onion into thin slices, about ⅛-inch thick. That way their flavor won't overpower.
  • For stir-fries, cut green onions into 1-inch pieces.
  • To bias-slice, cut the green onions at a 45-degree angle. This works especially well for ½- to 1-inch slices.
  • For julienne or bite-size strips, slice each trimmed medium green onion in half lengthwise. Slice each half crosswise into 1- to 2-inch pieces.

How to Chop Green Onions

With a chef's knife, use a rocking motion, cutting all the way up the trimmed stalk until the onion is cut into small pieces. To finely chop, continue to cut the onions using a rocking motion until the pieces are chopped into small bits.

cutting green onions on cutting board

BHG/Ana Cadena

Buying and Storing Green Onions

Green onions are available year-round in most markets (or you can grow green onions at home). They have long, straight green leaves and straight rather than bulbous-shape bases. Both the white base and the green leaves are edible. Choose green onions that have fresh-looking green tops and clean white ends.

Store green onions wrapped in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator up to 5 days. When you're buying green onions for a recipe, keep in mind that 1 medium green onion equals about 2 tablespoons sliced green onions. You can also grow your own green onions on your windowsill using the roots of other green onions.

Green onions are sometimes referred to as spring onions, but they're not the same. Often found at farmers markets, spring onions show the beginnings of a bulbous base but have been harvested before the base develops into a large, rounded mature onion. If you need a green onion substitute, you can use spring onions, but keep in mind that spring onions are usually stronger in flavor, so you'll probably want to add less than the recipe calls for.

How to Use Green Onions

There are plenty of green onion recipes that highlight this veggie, and there are many more where it plays a supporting role. Here are a few ways to incorporate your chopped or cut green onions into your favorite recipes:

  • Use thinly sliced raw green onions as a finishing touch to foods including soups, stews, grilled meats, dips, deviled eggs, potato salad, and omelets. They add extra color, freshness, and flavor.
  • Add 1-inch slices of green onions to stir-fried vegetable and meat dishes. The green onions will cook in 1 to 2 minutes (more quickly than meats and most other vegetables) so add them toward the end of cooking time.
  • Toss them raw into green salads to add mild onion appeal.
  • Add thinly sliced green onions to scrambled eggs just before cooking the eggs.
  • Tuck chopped green onions into fillings for egg salad and tuna salad sandwiches.
  • Serve longer green onion slices alongside carrots and celery on a raw vegetable tray. For each onion, trim the root ends, then slice off enough of the dark green stems to leave a 3- to 4-inch piece.
  • Use finely minced green onions as a substitute for snipped fresh chives.
bunch of green chives on white surface
Jason Donnelly

Chives vs. Green Onions

Because of their similar long green stalks, there's some confusion about the difference between chives and green onions. The easiest way to tell the difference is to look for a bulb. The white bulb and roots at the bottom of a green onion are noticeable, while chives have a much smaller, inconspicuous bulb. Chives are also usually a deeper green than scallions and have thinner, hollow stalks.

If you want to get technical, chives are classified as an herb, while scallions are part of the onion family. Chives are also more delicate than green onions, so you shouldn't cook them very long, if at all. Instead, use them as a garnish for salads, meat, fish, soups, and egg recipes, and add them to your plate right before serving, just like you would with any other herb.

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