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Looking for a substitute for green onion? We got you covered!

Scallions sometimes called green onions, or ‘spring onions’ to our British friends, are a common ingredient in many cuisines. They are an allium, which means they are of the same plant family as onions, garlics, and other smelly ingredients.

Green Onions

Scallions add an ‘oniony’ flavor to dishes that are a little more subtle and less pronounced than your common Spanish Onion.

Scallions are regularly used in cuisines all over the world, but you may recognize them from Asian cooking as well as others.

If you are making a recipe or dish that usually requires scallions, then there are many subs out there that are easy and won’t cost much more.

Read on to learn about some substitutes for scallions that are practical and easy.

Yellow Onions

Yellow Onions

This might seem darn obvious, but an onion would be a perfect substitute for green onion or scallion. Be aware that onions generally have a lot more onion flavor in them than the classic green onion, so be careful about quantity.

In this case, we would suggest maybe using half an onion for one full scallion, where necessary.

The Yellow onion probably has a little more bite and crunch to it than the scallion. Onions are super easy to buy almost anywhere and likely cost the same amount of money as a scallion, or even less.



A Leek is probably your best shot at a like-for-like substitute. A leek is essentially a larger version of a scallion. They both give a dish that hum of onion flavor that it needs without being too powerful.

Both leeks and scallions have a similar texture too which isn’t as thick as your regular onion. Leeks also look pretty similar to scallions if you cut them into quarters. If you don’t want someone to realize you forgot the scallions, a leek would pull the wool over their eyes.



The shallot is essentially a smaller, sweeter version of the common onion. Shallots are to Onions, what scallions are to leeks: the smaller version. So, you should logically get a similar allium taste from the shallot as you would a scallion.

Shallots are definitely a lighter take on the common onion, so this should be a little more subtle, resembling a shallot, but is always going to be a little bit more oniony than a scallion.



Many people actually believe that chives are a herb when they are in fact an allium in their own right, just as onion and shallots are. Chives can impair that onion flavor without getting too heavy.

They perhaps lack a little sharpness and acidity that you may find in a shallot, but they are certainly real good and taste quite similar.

For, what they lose in sharpness, they replace with an evergreeness and earthiness which many won’t be able to identify as chives. This works quite well in Asian cuisine.

Chives makes a perfect substitute for green onion!

Garlic scapes

Garlic Scapes - substitute for green onion

Scapes are the shoots that come from a hardneck garlic plant, they often come out of ‘wild garlic’ which interestingly has its own unique allium flavor. Yet, scapes that come from Garlic are pretty similar to scallions.

They are much like chives in the way they look but less harsh onion flavor more of a smooth garlic finish, which is much more like a scallion that you would expect, moreover most people won’t actually know what scapes are.

Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic - substitute for green onion

In comparison to your grocery store garlic, wild garlic, meaning garlic that is grown in the wild, not cultivated, often has a much more subtle garlic flavor than your common garlic does.

This makes it a pretty great substitute for scallions which have their own garlic flavors.

Garlic also can have a lot more health benefits than your common scallion which could boost the dishes nutritional profile without anyone really knowing. What’s more, if you can find some wild garlic – it’s free.



Scallions are very often used as a garnish for a dish, while also being used inside them. If you have a dish that only requires scallions for garnish, it could be a good idea to consider the radish.

While not necessarily overly similar to the spring onion they are often interchangeably used for dressing in lots of cuisines such as Mexican and Sain.

Don’t have any scallions for your taco? Throw some radish on there, they can taste similar if a little more peppery and spicy. They’re also much more visually pleasing than a scallion.

Red Onion

Red Onion

Ready for the last substitute for green onion? Red Onion may be your last resort, but only those with a nuanced palette would really be able to tell.

Red onions have a little too much sweetness and acidity to be compared to a scallion, but they do still fit the framework to get that all-important ‘onion flavor’ in your dishes.

Red Onions can also add a lot of color where scallions won’t.

Our Final Verdict: Substitute For Green Onion

Swapping out your scallions for any of these vegetables shouldn’t send the balance of your dish out the window too much.

All these substitutes are alliums, as the scallion is, and can recreate that ‘oniony’ flavor really well. Often this flavor is completely disliked by some, and if this is why you are substituting it, then we would recommend something like radish for a more peppery kick.

Moreover, something like radish is perfect to replace the scallion as a dressing. Radish provides the same fresh crunch that could feel like it is missing if raw scallions are used to garnish your dish.

Get experimenting and find an allium that’s perfect for you.

In most dishes, people won’t really be able to tell when scallions are missing unless they are someone with a nuanced palette like a chef.

All in all, if you want to try to replicate the flavor and nuance of a scallion in a dish, we would suggest the leek is your best route. Leeks are basically just like a big scallion, so they are the perfect substitute, although maybe lack a little freshness.

Your turn! Will you try a Substitute For Green Onion?

For more frequently asked questions, visit our index of food-related questions and answers. Here are a few suggestions for you:

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