Fresh out of scallions? No worries, there are plenty of easy scallion substitutes out there, including some you probably already have in your kitchen.
I love scallions. Probably because they have just the right amount of onion flavor without being too oniony -- and those lovely green tops almost double as fresh herbs.
So reaching into the crisper and finding no scallions can be a big bummer.
What are Scallions?
Scallions, aka green onions (yes, they’re the same thing), are a very versatile vegetable, making them a go-to for everything from stir fries, casseroles, and pasta dishes to sandwich fillings, potato salads, and crudite platters.
They're long and skinny with green tops and narrow white bottoms with a tangle of fine roots at the base. Scallions are a member of the allium family and are closely related to garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives.
What do Scallions Taste Like?
Because of their mild flavor, the entire green onion, including the white base and green tops, can be eaten raw or cooked, chopped or whole.
The white part of a green onions tastes the most "oniony" while the green part is a bit more mild with a bright, fresh flavor.
In cooked dishes, green onions cook quickly to add just the right mild onion flavor. As a finishing touch, they add a bright pop of freshness and color. I mean, look at how pretty they look on this Corn Casserole.
What Can I Substitute for Scallions?
You have plenty of options for what to use instead of scallions that will give your dish the right amount of onion flavor you’re looking for. In fact, you may already have a very good substitute for scallions right in your kitchen.
Some of the best scallion alternatives actually come from the same family tree: chives, shallots, and leeks. But there are a few other pinch-hitters you can also use in place of green onions.
Best substitute for scallions in salads, garnishes, baked potatoes, deviled eggs, and other raw preparations.
Fresh chives are the best substitute for scallions in raw preparations. Those pretty green tops are ready to be sliced into a garnish for baked potatoes or chili or sprinkled over pasta salads or deviled eggs.
Since chives have a milder taste than green onions, the flavor doesn’t come through as well in cooked preparations, however.
When using chives as a substitute for scallions, use a bit more than you would green onions to get the best flavor match possible.
Best substitute for scallions in stir fries, marinades, salads, and salad dressings
Even though shallots look more like a cross between garlic and a regular onion, they can stand in for either raw or cooked green onions because of their mild, delicate flavor.
Shallots are an excellent substitute for scallions in marinades, salad dressings, salads, and stir fries.
Raw shallots have a bit of a stronger flavor than a green onion, however, so use a lighter hand when substituting shallots for raw green onions.
Best substitute for scallions in garnishes
Leeks just seem like they would be the best scallion substitute because they look like a giant green onion. Which isn’t surprising because the two are related.
Both leeks and green onions have a mild taste, but if you’re substituting leeks for green onions, they should be treated a bit differently.
The darker green part of leeks is typically not used because it's tougher — use the white and light green parts. And because leeks are more fibrous, they require a longer cooking time.
Leeks are an excellent substitute for scallions when it comes to garnishes. Just thinly slice the white part and sprinkle it onto salads or soups.
Best substitute for scallions in recipes with garnishes (red onion) or cooked green onions (sweet onions)
Whatever type of onion you have -- red onions, yellow onions, white onions, sweet onions -- you can substitute them for either raw or cooked green onions. But know that some are better substitutes than others.
For garnishes and other raw applications, red onion will be a great substitute because it has a milder flavor than the other onion varieties. But red onions still have a stronger flavor than green onions, so chop them into very small pieces and use a small amount so you don’t overwhelm your dish.
For a cooked dish, sweet onions will stand in as a suitable replacement for cooked green onions.
When using onions as a substitute for scallions in cooked dishes, you will need to cook them longer than a green onion to soften the texture and mellow the flavor.
5. Spring Onions
Best substitute for scallions in any recipe, including cooked and raw dishes and garnishes
Spring onions are a premature version of a red or white onion and have small white bulbs at the base. That immature bulb is packed with an extra bite that’s stronger than a green onion, however, they will become milder when cooked.
As a substitute for scallions, spring onions are almost perfect because you can use the green part and the white part in cooked or raw preparations.
The flavor of the white bulb is a bit stronger than the white part of a scallion, so you may want to use a bit less.
Best substitute for scallions in any recipe, including cooked and raw dishes, garnishes
Ramps are a wild onion that grows only in the spring, and they have a distinctly pungent garlic flavor-slash-onion flavor.
They can be hard to find, so if you arrive early at the farmers market, see if anyone has ramps. They usually sell very quickly, so act fast. You may also spot ramps in specialty grocery stores when they’re in season.
Every part of the ramp is edible, from the bulb to the leaves; you just have to trim off the roots. You can use ramps as an equal substitute for scallions — either raw or cooked.
7. Onion Powder
Best substitute for: soups, stews, sauces, dips, dressings, marinades
When you're thinking about what to use instead of scallions, this particular substitute should come with a flow chart. If you’re out of scallions… and you have none of the above substitutions… and your dish really needs a hit of oniony flavor… and not as a garnish ... you may be able to use the onion powder.
Onion powder is best used as a substitute for green onions in cooked preparations like soups, stews, and sauces, or creamy dips and dressings, or marinades.
You just won’t be able to rely on onion powder to bring that bright, fresh herby flavor or bright color. But it’ll do in a pinch.
- Chives are the best substitute for chopped raw scallions -- especially as a garnish!
- Shallots and raw onions have a stronger flavor than scallions. Use a light hand when using onions or shallots instead of green onions in raw preparations.
- Even though leeks look like giant green onions, they're not quite an equal substitute. Just use the white and light green parts.
- Spring onions and ramps are both almost perfect substitutes for scallions in anything!
Here are 7 really great substitutes for scallions:
5. Spring onions
7. Onion powder
Nothing! Green onions and scallions are the exact same thing, so you can feel free to use those terms interchangeably.
Spring onions and green onions are very similar, but not quite the same. Spring onions are actually premature versions of onions.
The bulbs are more rounded and have a stronger flavor than green onions. You can use both the green and white parts of a spring onion, just the way you can with scallions.
You can eat both the white and green parts of scallions raw or cooked. Sliced scallions are a beautiful and delicious garnish for salads, soups, casseroles, deviled eggs, baked potatoes -- almost anything! Cooked green onions add mild onion flavor to soups, stews, and stir fries.