Green onions and chives need not confuse you anymore.
Chives vs. Green Onions
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If you've ever gone from one recipe that calls for chives to another one that calls for green onions and wondered "What's the difference?"—you're not the first. They're distinctly different, but with a little bit of explanation, chives versus green onions will no longer be a recipe roadblock.


Chives are green herbs with long, green stems that are used for flavoring a dish at the end of cooking or as a garnish. Chives are in the lily family, but they're related to onions. Like onions, they are bulbous perennials, but you'll likely never see the bulbs unless you're a gardener. The bulbs are typically removed before they're packaged for the grocery store.

Green Onions

Green onions are immature onions with long, hollow stems with a small narrow bulb at the bottom, white roots and dark green leaves that are almost entirely edible. "Green onions" is a generic term. Generally speaking, green onions (aka scallions) can come from different types of onions, but what defines them is that they are onions pulled up from the ground while they're still young and haven't yet developed much of a bulb. Spring onions are left to grow a little longer and thus have a slightly larger bulb at the bottom. Green onions are closely related to chives, leeks, shallots and garlic and have a mild, oniony flavor.

Chives vs. Green Onions

Chives and green onions are different visually. Chive stems are long, very skinny, solid green and tender, whereas green onions have a thicker, more substantial stem that is green toward the top and white at the bottom. Chives are delicate and tender and are best eaten raw or cooked very briefly. Overcooking wilts and weakens their texture and flavor. They can be chopped or blended into small bits, which releases their oniony flavor. They work well as a garnish, (think: a topping for a baked potato and sour cream or deviled eggs). But they also make great additions to salad dressings and dips. Green onions, on the other hand, can be enjoyed raw or cooked. The green ends of the green onion are similar in flavor to chives, and they can be used the same way. The white part of green onions has a stronger onion flavor and can stand up to cooking much like a yellow or white onion. The whites make a good base for soups, stir-fries and sauces.

Storing Chives and Green Onions

Chives don't last long in the refrigerator after you bring them home from the grocery store. It's best to use them within a day or two after you buy them.

Green onions last longer than chives. When you bring them home from the store, they can last a week or more in the refrigerator. You can extend the life of both chives and green onions by wrapping them in a moist paper towel and place them in an airtight container.