Chives vs Green Onions

Comparisons, FAQs

Chives vs Green Onions: What’s the Difference?


Acacia Crossley

Have you ever been wandering around the vegetable aisle at your local supermarket and started to notice how the greens section seems to blur into one?

Two ingredients that often have people confused are chives and green onions. Are these two green ingredients as similar as they seem? 

Chives have one consistent flavour throughout the whole plant, but green onions have a more complex flavour, with the white part of the vegetable having a sharper taste and the green tops milder. 

What are Chives?

If you are one of those people who often come across chives in a recipe but choose to skip out on them, you are missing out!

Chives are one of the easiest herbs to grow in your garden or even on your kitchen windowsill, and they are packed full of flavour that too many people often discard. 

They are a herb related to both onions and garlic (the allium family) and have been part of cuisines worldwide for hundreds of years.

Due to their relation, chives have a distinct onion taste but on a much milder scale. Their onion taste is as delicate as the chive’s texture, which is why they are mainly used as a garnish or added to vegetable and meat dishes that could use a little something extra without being overpowering. 

Are Chives Onions?

Chives are closely related to onions and have a similar flavour but are not the same. Chives have a milder and more delicate onion flavour than onions and are often used as a garnish or in dishes where a subtle onion flavour is desired.

What are Green Onions?

Better known as scallions in some parts of the world, green onions have acquired their name because of their long green stems. The onion part of the name comes from the fact that green onions are related to regular onions as part of the allium genus.

However, green onions are a little more complex than regular onions as they are really made up of two parts: the white bottom half and the green top.

Spring Onions 1

The white part has the most onion-like taste with a more notable sweetness, while the green tops have a grassier onion taste. 

There are no limits to what you can use green onions for. They are just as good served fresh as a garnishing or finishing touch for a dish as when fried to make a Korean scallion pancake. 

Similarities Between Chives and Green Onions

Considering that green onions and chives are closely related, there are a significant amount of similarities between them, making it easy to confuse the two. For example: 

Family Relation

The most significant similarity between chives and green onions is that they are not only related to onions and garlic, but they are also closely related to each other as part of the allium family.

This relation is why some people find it difficult to distinguish the two. 

Onion Taste

Because of their onion relation, chives and green onions have a distinct taste reminiscent of onion. Though neither chives nor green onions have as sharp or intense a taste as regular onions, their flavour is more of a hint than a hit. 


Chives and green onions are versatile in that they can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, whether roasted, fried, or otherwise.

This is because their flavour is mild enough not to overpower a dish when used as a finishing touch but strong enough to add something extra to your dish. 

Worldwide Use

You will find chives and green onions in countless corners of world cuisine. Some cuisines utilise one more than the other, though most will include chives and green onions at some point. 

Easy to Grow 

One of the main reasons that chives and green onions are enjoyed worldwide is because of how easy they are to grow.

You don’t need green fingers at all to successfully grow either plant, just somewhere for them to grow with a little natural light. 

Differences Between Chives and Green Onions

Chives and green onions seem practically identical at their surface level, from flavour to usage. But if we are to get pickier, it is clear there are some differences worth noting:

Physical Complexion 

Chives have one consistent flavour that does not change no matter which part of the chives shoot you use, which is why it works so well as an herb as it will produce consistent results.

Green onions do not have the same consistency. Instead, it is better to consider green onions in their two parts, the more intense white bottoms and fresher green tops. 

Food Classification

On a technical level, green onions and chives are not classified under the same food groups despite coming from the same family. Chives will always be listed as a herb, while green onions fall under the vegetable umbrella. 

Growing Season

It is true that chives are one of the easiest plants to grow at home, but they can only be harvested between spring and early autumn before the weather gets too cold and kills the plants.

Green onions are much more resistant to colder weather and able to grow in a much wider set of conditions. 

Growing Chives

Store Price

Due to their more limited harvesting season, chives tend to cost more than green onions when you buy them fresh in-store. 

As an overall cost, they might be similar but when you compare the cost per weight, you’ll soon realise just how much less you get when buying chives.

Chives vs Green Onions: Which Wins?

Which would you vote for if you could only use one of these two ingredients in your cooking? We want to know which wins when it’s chives vs green onions:

Do You Prefer Chives or Green Onions?

Chives and Green Onions FAQs

If you have further questions when comparing chives vs green onions, check these FAQs out. If you have more questions then drop a comment below:

Can You Substitute Chives for Green Onions?

Chives and green onions are similar in appearance and flavour but not precisely the same. Green onions have a more robust onion flavour and a slightly different texture than chives. However, in most recipes, chives can be used as a substitute for green onions.


We have verified the information on this page using the following resources:

The Kitchn

The Spruce Eats

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