What Are Scallions?

These green onions can be eaten fresh or cooked

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Scallions - Green Onions - Spring Onions. © 2014 Paul Williams/Getty Images, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Scallions are a variety of young onion also referred to as green onions and spring onions. A scallion is made up of a white base that has not fully developed into a bulb and long green stalks that resemble chives. Both the white and the green parts are used in recipes and eaten both raw and cooked. 

Scallions are a member of the Allium family, which includes garlic, onions, leeks, and shallots. Scallions grow in clumps and develop dark green, hollow tube-like leaves.

Although the term scallion is used for several different types of onions, the white base of true scallions has straight sides versus rounded (which distinguishes the beginnings of a bulb developing). There are usually short off-white root threads that protrude from the bottom of the white end. ​

Flavor of Scallions

Scallions have a sweeter, milder flavor than mature onions and are a bit stronger than chives. The white part has more flavor than the green leaves. The tops of these green onions may be used as a  substitute for chives in many recipes.

Choosing Scallions

Scallions are sold in bunches in the supermarket produce section. Although available year-round, scallions are at their peak during the spring and summer months. They range in size from small to large, the medium-sized being the best tasting. Look for onions whose white base is firm and where the green ends are brightly colored and stiff.

Avoid any bunches where the leaves are wilted and yellowing. 

Cooking Scallions

Although scallions may be cooked, either whole or chopped, they are perhaps most enjoyed fresh in salads, as crudites or as a last minute topper for sauces. Scallions are a popular ingredient in Chinese and Mexican cooking and are often used as a garnish in a variety of recipes.

Storing Scallions

Before storing scallions, remove the rubber band and rinse the bunch under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel and then wrap in a damp paper towel and place in a plastic bag. The scallions will stay fresh in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator up to three days.