If you are looking for a good substitute for spring onion that mimics the flavor and texture, you are in the right place. This article goes over seven different substitutes that can work well.
What are spring onions?
Spring onions, also known as green onions or scallions, are a type of onion and a member of the allium family. You can identify them easily by their long green stalks and white base.
Spring onions are actually the immature shoots of regular onions. They have a similar flavor to onions, but are more mild and gentler.
They are a versatile vegetable used in a variety of international cuisines, but most notably Asian cuisine. While they are typically consumed raw, they are used in cooked dishes.
The spring onion was first described about 2000 years ago in Chinese herbal texts and was used in Asian folk medicine. The plant is native to Asia, but has since spread throughout the globe.
Spring onions are used in a variety of recipes ranging from salad dressings to pasta dishes. Most commonly, spring onions are used in Asian cuisine in dishes like pajeon (Korean savory pancakes), negimaki (Japanese beef and scallions) and hua juan mian (Chinese ginger scallion noodles).
How to store
You can store spring onions in a variety of ways. To extend the life of your green onions, I would recommend putting them into a glass jar and adding cold water to cover the roots. Cover the green stalks with a plastic bag.
Once you use the green stalks of your spring onions, you can put the white roots in water in a jar and leave them on the windowsill. Your spring onions will regrow with enough sunlight.
From there, you can choose to add your spring onions to a pot of soil to continue growing them indefinitely. Overall, they are fairly easy to grow and maintain.
Where to buy
You can find spring onions at most grocery stores. They may be labeled as green onions or scallions, so be sure to know that ahead of time.
If you can’t find them at your local grocery store, try an International foods store or an Asian grocery store.
7 Best Spring Onion Substitutes
Now let’s discuss the best options when you are looking for a substitute for spring onion. All of these options work great and are listed starting from the best substitutes to the least fitting substitutes (though everything on this list should work great).
Chives are the best substitute for spring onions. They have a mild flavor and similar taste, but are more delicate. Both vegetables have long green stalks with an oniony taste.
The main difference is that the stalks are thinner and don’t have as much of a crunch compared to green onions. Other than that, the two vegetables are very interchangeable and can even be easily mistaken for one another.
Leeks are another great substitute for spring onions, though they have a slightly milder flavor. They are long with green stalks and a white root end, similar to green onions.
The biggest difference is that the green stalks of leeks are thicker than spring onions. They are also typically consumed cooked as opposed to raw as this is where the best flavor comes from.
Ramps are a good substitute for spring onions. They have long and thin green leaves that sprout from a white root. Some ramps have a purple colored stalk in between the root and leaves.
The main difference between green onions and ramps is the shape and texture. Instead of having a long stalk, ramps sprout long and thin leaves. While ramps have a more delicate flavor, they are pretty similar to green onions. They also belong to the same family.
The green tops of wild garlic can be a great alternative to spring onions. Unfortunately these are difficult to find in store, but they are definitely worth a mention.
A big difference between green onions and wild garlic is the taste. While they both have an oniony flavor, wild garlic tastes a lot more, well, garlicky. Despite this, the green part can be a good replacement for spring onions.
Shallot are an excellent substitute to use in place of spring onions. They come in small bulbs with a purple outer peel and white inside. They have a milder taste than regular onions.
A huge difference between green onions and shallots are of course the shape. Shallots look like small, oval red onions while spring onions are long and green. The flavor is similar though.
Yellow onion is another great option to use as a substitute for spring onion. This also goes from similar varieties like white onions or sweet onions.
That being said, yellow onions look quite different from green onions. But, as mentioned earlier, green onions are just the immature version of regular onions, so the flavor is similar though yellow onions do have a stronger flavor.
Red onion is another good substitute for spring onion. They taste similar to yellow onions or white onions, though the outer peel is red instead or white or yellow.
Of course red onions look nothing like green onions, but they both have an oniony flavor. Plus, they both taste better raw (well, maybe just in my opinion).
Recipes using spring onion
Spring onion or green onion is used in a variety of different recipes and is commonly used as a topping to add flavor to a variety of dishes. Below are two recipes using green onions.
Pajeon (Korean Vegetable Pancakes)
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups water
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 4-5 spring onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup vegetables of choice, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp your choice of cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp gochugaru
- In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, water, egg, soy sauce, salt, and sugar. Stir thoroughly. Let it rest for about 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and gochugaru. Mix and set aside.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add your cooking oil. Once hot, ladle a portion of the batter into the pan to make a pancake.
- Quickly add the spring onions and vegetables to the top of the pancake. Cook for a few minutes until the edges start to brown and the pancake becomes firm.
- Flip the pancake with a spatula and press it down a bit to ensure even cooking and cook until both sides are golden and crispy. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Similar Recipe: Hobak Buchim (Korean Zucchini Pancakes)
Negimaki (Japanese Rolled Beef and Scallions)
- 8 slices of thinly sliced beef
- 8 spring onions, cut into 6-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, sake, and minced garlic until the sugar dissolves.
- Place the beef in a shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the meat and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
- Take one slice of marinated beef and lay it flat on a clean surface. Place a spring onion segment on top of the meat. Roll up the meat with the spring onion inside, securing the roll with toothpicks. Repeat this process for all the rolls.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Place the rolls in the skillet and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Once the rolls are cooked, remove the toothpicks or skewers. Serve hot!
Hua Juan Mian (Chinese Ginger Scallion Noodles)
- 8 ounces fresh Chinese egg noodles
- 3 stalks of spring onions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons of your choice of cooking oil
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- 4 stalks of spring onion, chopped
- 2 inches of fresh ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of your choice of cooking oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a heatproof bowl, combine the chopped spring onions, minced ginger, minced garlic, vegetable oil, and salt. Mix well.
- In a small saucepan, heat the cooking oil until it’s almost smoking. Carefully pour the hot oil over the ginger and scallion mixture. Let the sauce cool to room temperature.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the Chinese egg noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the cooked noodles with the ginger scallion sauce and some of the thinly sliced green onions. Mix until well combined. Season with salt and white pepper as needed. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
What do spring onions taste like?
Spring onions have a slightly bitter, oniony flavor. They are slightly crunchy when raw and add a nice texture to whatever dish you have them in.
Can you cook spring onions?
Yes. While spring onions are great raw, spring onions can absolutely be cooked. They wilt very fast, so make sure you don’t overcook them. Popular cooked dishes using spring onion include pajeon, negimaki and hua juan mian.
Are spring onions good for you?
Yes. Spring onions are a very nutrient dense vegetable. One cup of spring onions (tops only) is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. In fact, one cup of spring onions contains over 100% of your daily value of vitamin K.
What’s the difference between green onions and spring onions?
Green onions and spring onions are actually the same vegetable! They are also commonly known as scallions. The name used largely depends on the region you live in.