Green Onions Vs. Spring Onions: What's The Difference?

You probably wouldn't think to display green or spring onions in a fancy vase, but both are actually members of the lily family (via FoodPrint). And while these zesty veggies might not possess the same decorative aspects as their flowery cousins, they can definitely make for a fresh and colorful addition to almost any meal. The question is, when you buy a bunch of the pungent, flavorful stalks, are you getting green onions or spring?

The easiest means of differentiation seems to be through simple observation. MasterClass says both have narrow, bright green leaves, but spring onions feature a prominent rounded bulb near their root system while green onions have slender, straight bases.

The outlet states that spring onions are young "common onions" (the kind you might slice into rings and throw on a juicy hamburger) that have been harvested before fully mature. Depending on the varietal, they can have white, yellow, or purple bulbs.

Green onions are young spring onions... sometimes

Now, here's where things get a little tricky. FoodPrint says green onions can be a variety of onion called "bunching onions." These alliums never form a distinctly round bulb and can be cultivated year-round. This is the vegetable many shoppers find at their supermarket labeled green onions — or, as they are often called, scallions. Alternately, green onions can be immature spring onions that have been harvested before their bulbs begin to expand.

Healthline explains that the reason for this green onion confusion is that all immature onions have similar physical characteristics, which makes it nearly impossible to discern one species from another. The Kitchn concurs, noting that regardless of classification, the primary difference in size and shape can be attributed to the age at which the young plants are harvested.

If your recipe calls for one or the other, remember that green onions have a fresh, slightly milder taste than their rotund counterparts, whose flavor and texture are made more robust by the extra growing time. If spring onions were teenagers, picture green onions as their cute younger siblings — a bit more tender and with a little less bite.