Have you had the scallions vs. green onions debate with your family or friends? If you believe they are the same species—you are correct! Scallions and green onions go by many names including Welsh onions and bunching onions. The difference might just rest on where you live. People in the mid-Atlantic coastal states and New England tend to be partial to scallions, while the rest of America tends to call them green onions.
Don’t overlook these brightly flavored gems in the grocery store, particularly for dishes that call for a slightly less onion-y flavor than a regular onion provides. Whether you call them scallions or green onions, they're packed with nutrients from the tips of the green stalks to the base of the white roots. Research shows that they also offer quite extraordinary health and medicinal benefits as a result. In fact, clinical studies reveal they may fight cancer, support weight loss, and so much more.
The Scoop on Scallions
Scallions are a member of the genus allium, which also includes garlic, leek, chive, shallots, and Chinese onion. With long green stems and a thin white bulb about the size of a fingernail, these young onions are picked before the bulb expands and swells, which differentiates them from other types of onions.
The green tops have a mild onion flavor, sweeter than mature onions but not as strong as chives, while the white base takes the intensity up a notch.
We're going to go out on a limb and say scallions are a superfood. They contain powerful sulfur-containing compounds that stimulate the liver’s most potent antioxidant—glutathione. They are also loaded with essential vitamins and minerals, most notably vitamin K, which helps protect against heart disease, support blood clotting, and improve bone health.
Green onions, or scallions, are available year round and can be enjoyed raw, pickled, or cooked. When choosing green onions from the grocery store, look for brightly colored green leaves and fresh, pliable roots coming from the white bulb.
Scallions vs. Green Onions
We’ve already answered the question are scallions green onions and know that they are merely different names for the same type of onion of the Allium fistulosum species.
But these tasty bulb onions go by many other names, including:
- Welsh onions
- Bunching onions
- Salad onions
- Spring onions
- Table onions
To get even further into the nitty gritty, spring onions aren't exactly the same as scallions/green onions. While they are both members of the Allium fistulosum species, spring onions aren't harvested as early as true scallions and are thinner with larger bulbs and a stronger flavor and aroma.
Now, if you are debating scallions vs. chives, there is a distinct difference. Yes, they both belong to the same botanical family, but they are completely different species. Chives are of the Allium shoenoprasum species, with green leaves the size of a string rather than a pencil.
Both chives and scallions have hollow green leaves and a gentle oniony flavor, but chives are much more delicate and are very rarely cooked. They are most often used as a garnish on baked potatoes, deviled eggs, or snipped and scattered over Eggs Benedict.
Scallions and green onions are very low in calories, and a valued part of any weight-loss diet. One cup of chopped raw scallions provides over 250% of the DV for bone-strengthening vitamin K. These green dreams are also a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. Here's a macronutrient breakdown and snapshot of key nutrients:
- Calories: 32
- Protein: 1.8 grams
- Carbohydrates: 7.3 grams
- Vitamin K: 259% DV
- Vitamin C: 31%
- Vitamin A: 20%
- Folate: 16% DV
- Iron: 8% DV
- Manganese: 8% DV
- Potassium: 8% DV
Scallion Health Benefits
Scallions and their extracts are the subject of many clinical trials and have demonstrated proven health benefits worth highlighting.
1. Lowers Risk of Prostate Cancer
A case-control study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute evaluated allium vegetable intake and the risk of prostate cancer. Results suggest that men with the highest intake of allium vegetables have significantly lower risk of prostate cancer. The study included the range of allium vegetables, including scallions, garlic, leeks, chives, and onions, and confirms that these vegetables should be at the top of the cancer-fighting foods list.
2. Supports Weight Loss
A clinical study published in the journal Molecular Medicine Reports identifies scallion’s (Allium fistulosum L.) ability to reduce body weight, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol in obese mice. Researchers used a 70% ethanol extract from green onions and gave the mice one 400 milligram per kilogram dose each day for six and a half weeks.
3. Strengthens the Immune System
Research from the National Institute of Vegetable and Tea Science indicates that the mucus inside the green leaves of scallions strengthens the immune system, at least in animal trials. The study, published in the Journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, notes that the dark green leaves and the bulbs of the scallion did not cause the same biological response.
4. Fights the Flu
Researchers from the University of Toyama in Japan have identified that the fructan in scallions demonstrates antiviral activity against influenza viruses. Published in the journal Food Chemistry, the study notes that the antiviral activity comes specifically from the leafy green part of the scallion.
5. Supports Vascular Health
A study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology indicates that both raw and cooked scallions spur vascular relaxation associated with cardiovascular health. The researchers do note that the effects were most pronounced using the extract from raw green leaves of the scallion vs. the white parts.
6. Controls Hyperglycemia in Diabetics
Researchers at the Institute for Food Sciences at the Inje University in Korea have identified that the fibrous root extract of scallions effectively controls hyperglycemia in mice with diabetes mellitus. The study, published in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice, shows that the oral administration of this extract significantly decreased glucose levels within 30 minutes to 120 minutes after ingestion.
7. Prevents and Treats Osteoporosis
A study published in the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy suggests that vitamin K prevents and treats osteoporosis and supports bone health. Scallions are an excellent source of vitamin K, with just 1 cup providing over 250% of the recommended daily value.
Recipes that Highlight the Scallion
Have we convinced you to eat more scallions? Here are a few great recipes that highlight their delicate flavor and give you a vehicle to enjoy the health benefits of scallions.
If you love pickles and you love scallions, this recipe from Bon Appetit is a dream come true. The spices lend a touch of earthiness and this “quickle” is ready in just one day. They also go perfectly in a meat- or veggie-based Asian stir-fry.
This Chinese restaurant favorite uses beautiful fresh scallions, flour, water, salt, and oil for frying. Consider this recipe a splurge on your diet—at least when you make them at home you know all the ingredients going into them.
From Epicurious comes this delicious, scallion-rich pasta sauce. Olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, parmesan cheese, and 4 cups of chopped scallions give this quick and easy recipe a slightly pungent and bright flavor.
Yes, bacon-wrapped scallions are a thing, and they are amazing. This traditional Sicilian dish takes fresh scallions, wraps them in bacon or pancetta, and then sears them in a skillet. If you're entertaining for meat lovers, this side dish is sure to be a hit!
Scallion and Garlic Compound Butter
What is compound butter? It is butter that has been softened and then combined with fresh herbs and other flavors. Compound butter is great on toast or sliced and placed on a piece of fresh grilled fish or a steak. Let's whip it up!
- 1 stick grass-fed butter, room temperature
- 3 scallions, white and green parts chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 lemon zested
- Pinch of salt
- Mix the softened butter, scallions, garlic, lemon zest, and salt together until well combined.
- Heap onto a large square of plastic wrap, forming a 1-inch diameter log.
- Roll tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Serve as you would normal butter or slice and place on a hot piece of grilled fish or steak.
How to Store Scallions
We've got some great tips for how to store scallions from the Spruce Eats.
- Store your scallions in a jar filled with 1-2 inches of water to cover the roots. Let them soak up the sun from a windowsill. Be sure to switch out the water every few days.
- Instead of perching then on a windowsill, cover your jar of green onions with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge.
- You can also keep the roots of your scallions happy by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and sealing them in a plastic bag. Keep the paper towel slightly moist until you're ready to eat your scallions and reap the health benefits!