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5 Great Substitutes for Green Onions in Cooking

Ever found yourself midway through prepping for your signature dish, only to realize you’re fresh out of green onions? It happens to the best of us.

Luckily, the culinary world is brimming with fantastic alternatives that can save the day. Green onions, known for their mild but distinct flavor, are a staple in many recipes.

However, when they’re missing from your kitchen, there’s no need to panic.

This article will guide you through five incredible substitutes for green onions that not only keep your dish on track but might also introduce you to some delightful new flavors. Whether you’re whipping up a savory breakfast or a hearty dinner, these alternatives are sure to impress.

5 Great Substitutes for Green Onions in Cooking

1. Chives

Chives might be slender, but they hold a mighty punch in the flavor department. When scouting for green onion alternatives, chives are bespoke for their mild onion taste with a hint of garlic.

Chives are not just flavorful; they’re also incredibly versatile. You’ll often find them garnishing everything from soups and salads to omelets and baked potatoes.

Their delicate texture means they’re best used fresh and added towards the end of your cooking process to preserve their vibrant color and subtle taste. What’s more, growing chives at home is a breeze. They require minimal space and care, making them the perfect kitchen windowsill herb.

Substitution Ratio: Replace one green onion with two tablespoons of chopped chives.

Chives seamlessly blend into salads, dips, and creamy dishes, bringing in not just flavor but vivid green specks that add a delightful touch to visual appeal.

2. Shallots

Shallots, with an aroma like no other, are the more refined relatives of green onions. Their subtle sweetness and hint of garlic make them an excellent choice for those seeking a substitute that won’t overpower other flavors.

Shallots are not only a feast for the taste buds but also a treat for the eyes. Their ability to melt into dishes while contributing a depth of flavor makes them particularly perfect for sauces, dressings, and finely sliced in salads.

Unlike green onions, shallots can undergo caramelization, unlocking a rich, sweet flavor that can elevate any dish to gourmet status. What’s especially great about using shallots is their adaptability in a wide range of cuisines, from French to Southeast Asian, giving your dishes an international flair.

Substitution Ratio: 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped shallots per 1 bunch of chopped green onions.

In recipes where green onions dance with sautéed or roasted dishes, shallots make for a graceful and flavorful substitution.

3. Leeks

Leeks may not be the immediate go-to when green onions are in demand, but their subtle flavor and soft texture work wonders in recipes that can handle a bolder onion taste. They’re the larger and more mature cousins of green onions, with a faintly sweet and earthy flavor profile.

With their thick white stalks and broad green leaves, leeks are an excellent choice for adding substance to soups, stews, and sauces.

Slice them thinly or chop them up for easy addition to dishes that require a touch of onion flavor. Their hearty texture also makes them a great choice for grilling or roasting, adding depth and complexity to your dish.

Substitution Ratio: 1/2 cup of sliced leeks for each cup of green onions in the recipe.

From soups to quiches, leeks raise the bar in hearty dishes demanding a slightly sweeter flavor and a more substantial bite than the more tender green onions.

4. Ramps

Ramps are the VIP of green onion substitutes, known for their short-lived availability. With a flavor profile that lies somewhere between green onions and garlic, ramps bring in a complex and earthy flavor to the substitute mix.

Ramps are a seasonal delicacy, making them an exciting addition to dishes when they’re in season. Their flavor and texture make them suitable for both raw and cooked dishes, depending on your preference.

You can grill or sauté them or add them to salads, dips, or spreads for a unique twist. While ramps may be harder to find than the other substitutes on this list, the taste is well worth the search.

Substitution Ratio: 1/2 cup of diced ramps for each cup of green onions in the recipe.

In dishes awaiting a touch of pungency mingled with sweetness, ramps are the answer when a recipe yearns for green onions.

5. Yellow Onions

Yellow onions may not seem like the most obvious substitute for green onions, but hear us out. While they don’t have the same mild flavor as green onions, they do bring a similar onion-y taste to dishes.

Yellow onions are best used in cooked or sautéed dishes where their sharpness can mellow out and blend with other flavors. You can use them chopped, sliced, or diced, depending on your recipe’s needs. While they won’t provide the same visual appeal as green onions, their taste will more than make up for it.

Substitution Ratio: Use 1/2 cup of yellow onions per 1 bunch of green onions.

When the boldness of green onions is integral, yellow onions step in with their savory and slightly sweet notes, adding an intense dose of onion flavor to soups, stews, and sautés.


In conclusion, while green onions hold a special place in the culinary world for their distinct flavor and versatility, there are several fantastic alternatives that can save the day when you find your kitchen without them.

Here’s a quick recap of the substitutes we’ve covered, each offering its unique taste note and ideal substitution ratio:

  • Chives: Mild onion taste with a hint of garlic (Ratio: 1 green onion = 2 tablespoons chopped chives)
  • Shallots: Subtle sweetness with a hint of garlic, melting beautifully into dishes (Ratio: 1 bunch green onions = 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped shallots)
  • Leeks: Faintly sweet and earthy, perfect for adding substance to soups and stews (Ratio: 1 cup green onions = 1/2 cup sliced leeks)
  • Ramps: A complex, earthy flavor blending green onion and garlic tones (Ratio: 1 cup green onions = 1/2 cup diced ramps)
  • Yellow Onions: A more intense onion-y taste that mellows out when cooked (Ratio: 1 bunch green onions = 1/2 cup yellow onions)

So next time you find yourself without green onions, don’t panic! Just reach for one of these fantastic substitutes and get cooking.