Scallions are a versatile vegetable that can add flavor and texture to many savory dishes. Their mild onion-garlic taste makes scallions a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, eggs, soups, salads, and more. But what do you do when a recipe calls for scallions and you don’t have any on hand? Thankfully, there are several excellent scallion substitutes you can use instead.
Why You Might Need a Scallion Substitute
There are a few reasons why you may need to swap scallions for another ingredient:
- You don’t have scallions in your pantry or fridge when cooking.
- You need a vegetarian or vegan alternative to scallions.
- You want to change up the flavor profile of a dish.
- You or someone you are cooking for has an allergy to scallions.
Luckily, scallions are very easy to replace in recipes with some thoughtful substitutions. The key is finding an ingredient that has a similar sharpness, texture, and onion-garlic essence as scallions.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Substitute
When selecting an alternative for scallions, keep these factors in mind:
- Flavor – You want something that has mild onion and light garlic notes without being too overpowering.
- Aroma – The substitute should smell fresh and add a subtle onion-garlic scent.
- Texture – Scallions have a crisp, crunchy texture so aim for something similar.
- Color – Scallions are bright green so choose a vivid green substitute for aesthetics.
- Availability – Opt for widely accessible ingredients you can easily find year-round.
The Best Scallion Substitutes
When you need a stand-in for scallions, these are the top alternatives to use:
Spring onions are one of the best direct scallion substitutes. They look nearly identical with long green stalks, white bulbs, and purple-ish roots. Flavor-wise, spring onions taste very similar too but are just slightly stronger.
To use spring onions in place of scallions:
- Use about half the amount of spring onions as you would scallions. Their robust flavor means you need less.
- Chop up the green stalks. The bulb can be used too for a more onion-y flavor.
- Add raw spring onion to salads, salsa, guacamole, etc. for a fresh onion bite.
- Sauté spring onions to mellow their sharpness and add to stir-fries, frittatas, pasta, and more.
The white portion of leeks resembles large scallions in look and taste. When cooked, leeks have a subtly sweet, fresh flavor.
To use leeks instead of scallions:
- Use just the white part, the green leaves are too tough when cooked.
- Slice leeks into rounds and sauté to soften their texture and mellow bitterness.
- Add sautéed leeks to soups, stews, risottos, frittatas, and more.
- You can also boil, steam, or slow cook chopped leeks.
Ramps are wild leeks with broad, lily-of-the-valley-shaped leaves. Their flavor is stronger than scallions but makes a good swap when in season.
To use ramps instead of scallions:
- Ramps can be eaten raw for a spicy onion kick.
- Cook ramps briefly to mellow their sharpness.
- Ramps pair well in certain recipes but can be hard to find.
- You may need to forage or grow your own ramps.
Scapes are the curling flower shoots that grow from garlic plants. They have a mild garlic-onion flavor when raw or cooked.
To use scapes instead of scallions:
- Finely chop scapes and use in place of scallions.
- Sauté scapes then add to stir-fries, curries, omelets, etc.
- Mix sliced scapes into compound butter or herb oil.
- Scape pesto is delicious with the green garlic flavor.
- Scapes can be hard to source outside farmer’s markets.
With their bright green stems and delicate onion flavor, chives make an excellent scallion swap. They are more mild than scallions but mimic a similar grassy, oniony taste.
To use chives instead of scallions:
- Use a 1:1 ratio of chopped chives for scallions.
- Add snipped chives raw to salads, dips, dressings, herb butter, and potatoes.
- Stir chopped chives into soups, scrambled eggs, rice, pasta, etc. at the end.
- Chives bruise easily so use sharp scissors to cut them.
- Store fresh chives wrapped in a moist towel in the fridge.
Shallots have a milder onion flavor than regular onions with subtle garlicky undertones. Their taste is more complex than scallions but with similar vibes.
To use shallots instead of scallions:
- Use a 1:1 ratio of minced shallots instead of chopped scallions.
- Sauté shallots then add to stir-fries, curries, pasta sauce, dressings, etc.
- Roast chopped shallots to caramelize their flavor and sweetness.
- Raw shallots are too strong, always cook them before eating.
- Mix minced shallots into compound butter, dips, dressings, etc.
Green onions are another name for scallions, so not technically a substitute. But regular yellow, white, or brown onions can work in a pinch:
- Use the green stalks if available for milder flavor.
- Cook the onions first to temper their sharp bite.
- Fried onions are a tasty swap with mellow sweetness.
- Raw strong onions will overwhelm a dish, always cook them first.
Tips for Cooking and Storing Substitutes
Follow these tips to get the best results when using a scallion stand-in:
- Reduce amount used – Start with half as much as scallions called for.
- Add at end – Stir in raw or cooked substitute at the end to maintain flavor.
- Cook first – Sautéing mellows harshness and brings out sweetness.
- Cut small – Finely mince or slice substitutes to distribute flavor evenly.
- Store properly – Keep fresh herbs and onion family veggies in the fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use onion powder as a substitute?
Onion powder does not provide the same texture and flavor nuances as fresh scallions. It’s better to use fresh onion alternatives.
What about dried chives instead of fresh?
Dried chives lose potency over time. For best flavor and color, opt for fresh chives as a scallion swap.
Can I use green onions and scallions interchangeably?
Green onions and scallions refer to the same vegetable. So while they can be used interchangeably, green onions are not a substitute when you don’t have scallions.
Is there a difference between shallots and onions?
Shallots are a type of onion with a milder, more complex flavor than regular yellow or white onions.
The Takeaway on Scallion Substitutes
With their onion-garlic essence and green color, scallions are a tasty addition to many savory dishes. When you don’t have scallions on hand, there are several suitable stand-ins you can use instead. Opt for mild spring onions, chives, shallots, leeks, or ramps for the best flavor match. Consider aroma, color, texture, and availability when choosing an alt. With a thoughtful scallion swap, you can still create delicious meals.
The 7 Best Scallion Substitutes
- Choose your preferred alternative from the aforementioned options.
- Adhere to the cooking instructions for your chosen substitute, ensuring the correct proportion of ingredients.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.