What are Scallions?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2020
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Known by many different names around the world, scallions are one of several varieties of the onion. With a slightly pungent but pleasing taste, a scallion can be used in cold dishes such as salads, as a topping for different types of casseroles, or an ingredient in many recipes. Essentially, any situation where a white or yellow onion can be used, scallions can be substituted.

Scallions are known by a variety of names around the globe. In Greece, Canada, and Cyprus, the scallion is often referred to as a green onion. Citizens of Peru know the scallion as a Chinese onion. Other countries refer to them as spring onions, gibbons, and cibies. Around the United States, scallions are usually referred to as green onions in the southern area while being known as scallions in other parts of the country.

In appearance, scallions have a small tender white bulb at one end. From the bulb, dark green tubular sections extend vertically. Both the bulb and the tubular sections are usually tender and have a milder taste than other varieties of onions. They often make excellent choices when there is a desire for some hint of onion, but other options available are considered too overpowering.


There are a number of ways to use scallions in various recipes. By chopping the green sections, it is possible to add a hint of onion to a green salad. In like manner, finely chopped green onions can also be used to enhance the flavor of cold and hot soups. As a topping or garnish for roasts or meatloaf, this type of onion adds visual interest to the presentation as well as enhancing the flavor of the dish.

Scallions are used in may different types of cuisine. Chinese and Thai stir-fry dishes often make use of these onions. In the American South, green onions are often a favorite accompaniment to a serving of pinto beans or black-eyed peas. A number of dishes prepared with couscous will make use of the green sections of the scallion as a way of adding color as well as taste to the recipe.

Owing to the more delicate nature of spring onions, it is usually advisable to use them soon after purchase or harvest. They do not tend to keep as well as larger onions such as Vidalia onions or Texas Sweets. Many supermarkets carry these green onions in the produce section year round, making it possible to cook with them any time. The subtler taste often makes them preferable to onions with a more pronounced flavor.


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