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Chives vs green onions: what’s the difference between these similar ingredients? Can you substitute one for the other? Here’s the breakdown.

Chives vs green onions
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Chives vs green onions: what’s the difference? They look similar, with a dark green color: and even have a similar oniony flavor. But there are marked differences between the two! Here’s a breakdown on what makes them distinct, and when you can use them as substitutes.

Chives vs green onions: the differences

What’s the exact difference between the two? Here’s the difference between these similar looking plants:

  • Chives is a flowering green plant that’s classified as an herb, with dark green stalks and light purple flowers. It’s part of the onion or allium family (scientific name Allium schoenoprasum). Chives are often used fresh chopped as a garnish for soups, salads, omelettes, seafood, and more, and the flowers are also edible. Dried chives are sold in stores, and used in dips and salad dressings. Chives are often used in French and Mediterranean cuisine, and are easy to grow in a pot or garden. 
  • Green onions aka scallions, are a member of the onion or allium family (scientific name Allium cepa). They have long hollow green shoots and small white bulbs. Their flavor is milder than a yellow onion or red onion, with a hint of garlic and chive. Green onions are used in many cuisines, from Mexican to Japanese to Southeast Asian.

Chives vs green onion: how to tell them apart

It’s easy to tell the difference between chives vs green onion by looking at them. Here’s what distinguishes them:

  • Chives are much smaller than green onions with no bulbs. Chives are small and delicate. In the grocery store, they’re sold next to the other herbs (basil, thyme, etc) in small boxes. They’re easy to grow at home: which we highly recommend!
  • Green onions have white bulbs at the ends, and are sold in bunches in the produce aisle. See those white bulbs with roots on the ends? Those are green onions. They’re sold in the produce aisle at the grocery, often near large bunches of cilantro and Italian parsley.

Can you substitute one for the other?

Yes! Here’s the rule of thumb when substituting one for the other:

  • The best substitute for chives? Green onions. The dark green part tastes a lot like the fresh flavor of chives. You can substitute it one-for-one. So 1 tablespoon finely chopped scallion greens = 1 tablespoon chopped chives.
  • The best green onion substitute? Chives. This green green herb has a remarkably similar flavor to the green onion and looks very similar. The flavor of chives is a bit more delicate, so you could use a few more if desired. 1 medium green onion / scallion = 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives. If green onion is used as a garnish in the recipe, chives work particularly well: you may not even need to measure.

What recipes can you make with chives?

Looking for chives recipes? Here are some ways to use them:

What recipes can you make with green onions?

Looking for green onion recipes? Here are some ways to use them:

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Chives vs green onions

Eggs with Chives

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 1 minute
  • Cook Time: 4 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1x
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These 5-ingredient eggs with chives make a simple breakfast, brunch, lunch, or light dinner.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 chive stems or 1 green onion
  • 2 eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 multigrain English muffin


  1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium low heat. Roughly tear the chives into 2 to 3-inch pieces and place them in the olive oil to heat for 30 seconds. Crack the eggs into the skillet, add a sprinkle of kosher salt, and continue cooking over medium low heat until the egg whites are cooked but the yolk is still runny, about 2 to 3 minutes (at 1 minute, shake the pan gently to distribute the eggs).
  2. Meanwhile, toast the English muffin. When the eggs are done, slide them onto the English muffin halves and eat with a knife and fork.
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Easy
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Claire Dewey says:

    Read this article. Very interesting. Took my girlfriend and I longer than 5 minutes to read but appreciate the knowledge. Prolly just gunna use green onions. Read another article recently about how green onions are half the price. 88 cents vs $1.98. Furthermore, chives are rarely seen fresh in supermarkets as they are often bought in a dry form. Why isn’t there a market for dry green onions I wonder. Would be a good topic to cover perhaps next time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Genius. I now know how to cook an egg.