How Are Chives And Green Onions Different?

Whether sprinkled on as a garnish or chopped, blended or grilled as the backbone of a dish, chives and green onions can add flavor to any meal. But the two aren't the same, each has a unique taste to bring to the table

Even by eye alone, the two are distinguishable. Eating Well explains the visual differences: If you're looking at a long, skinny, and all-green stem, those are chives. In comparison, green onions are larger and even more tube-like. The most telling sign you're holding a green onion is the white bulb at the end of each stalk. Chives are also a bulbous plant when in the ground, but the bulbs are removed before the herb goes off to market.

When it comes to flavor, chives are the milder option. Allrecipes notes that chives, which are the stems of the Allium schoenoprasum plant, have a flavor closer to that of a leek than the more intense flavor of an onion. Technically speaking, says Eating Well, chives are a part of the lily family, but it's their close relation to the onion lineage that accounts for the herb's taste.

What are green onions?

Green onions are actually immature onions, explains Eating Well. Part of the Allium cepa species (via Taste of Home), green onions pack a bigger punch than chives. Unlike chives, different parts of a green onion hold different flavors. The deep green tops have a softer taste — similar but not quite the same as chives — but the closer you get to the white-bulb bottom, the more intense the sweet onion flavor becomes, according to Allrecipes.

Taste of Home notes that while green onions and chives are different, green onions and scallions are the same. The two terms are often used interchangeably, as both are from the same species and can be used the same ways when cooking. But due to chives' more mild nature, Taste of Home recommends using more of the herb than called for if you find yourself needing to substitute it for green onions in a recipe.

So next time you're chopping a chive or grilling a green onion, remember that the distinct flavor of each of these onion relatives will impact your final dish.