Scallions are an important ingredient in many cuisines and especially seem to add a lot of flavor to Asian dishes. They don’t grow everywhere, so what can you use to substitute or replace scallions if you don’t have them? The answer is that there are a variety of ingredients that make really good substitutes for scallions. This article will go through our favorite substitutes, describing why they work well and how to use them.
Coming from the same allium family, shallots and scallions are often believed to be the same. Scallions are actually immature bulbs when they’re harvested while shallots are already grown bulbs. Shallots make one of the most natural alternatives for scallions for stews, soups, or other dishes to add some sweet flavor profile.
Shallots have a delicate, milder flavor than red onions with a subtle garlicky taste. It is not recommended to eat them raw or use them as a garnish. But thin slices of shallots can be added to salads for extra crisp and kick.
Leeks are similar in flavor to scallions. They have a delicate kind of oniony flavor that works well in soups, stews, and stir-fries. When you use leeks in place of scallions, you only need the light green and the white part of it.
You also need to take the outer layer out to get to the lighter green layers. After cutting the leeks, soak them in cold water to get rid of any sand or dirt that may be stuck between the layers. Additionally, you can keep leeks longer than scallions. But leeks aren’t to be eaten raw. They give excellent flavors when they’re cooked with the dishes or by sauteing them.
3. Spring Onion
Spring onions look very similar to scallions and they are often confused interchangeably with one another. You can substitute spring onions for scallions in almost any recipe but they tend to be more pungent and spicy, so you should use less. When sauteed and added to stews, soups, and stir-fries, they tone down and sweeten adding that scallion-like savory to the dishes.
Spring onions are the closest substitute for scallion greens with the same vibrant color that makes perfect garnishing for salads, dips, and nachos. When buying spring onions, get the ones that are younger, fresher, and softer stalks. The older they get, the stronger and more pungent in taste they become.
4. Yellow Onions
Yellow onions, also brown onions, are the easiest to find. Perhaps you already have these in your pantry. With their sweet taste, they can replace scallions in any dish that calls for it. Since they’re full bulb or full-grown onions, they are stronger and more pungent so be mindful of the proportions and use smaller amounts when using them raw as chili or nacho toppings and in vegetable salads.
Yellow or brown onions are sweet and mildly pungent making this onion type a favorable substitute for cooking soups, stews, and stir-fries. To mellow down its bite and pungency, cut the raw yellow onion in half and soak them in cold water – preferably with ice – for 15 minutes. Then dice them as finely as you can.
5. Red Onions
Red onions have red-purplish, thin, parchment-like skin. This onion type is milder than the yellow and white onions. Red onions are favored by trained chefs for their sweet flavor even when raw and are used in salad, burgers, and sandwiches.
Red onions are crunchy, sweet, slightly spicy, and pungent when raw but these flavors lessen and become delicately sweeter when cooked. These characteristics make this type of onion a very good scallion substitute. Like the yellow onion, you can slice the red onion in half and soak it in cold or iced water to mellow down its pungency.
6. Sweet Onions
Sweet onions are a good substitute for scallions and add a little extra sweetness to the dish. They are actually part of the same family of vegetables and are related to leeks and garlic. Sweet onions are sweeter than most scallions but have a similar flavor when sautéed.
Sweet onions have less opaque skin, are slightly flatter and larger than yellow onions. They are much less pungent and sweeter than yellow onions, making them more suitable to replace scallions for salads and roasted vegetable recipes.
7. White Onions
White onions have the same sharp, peppery, somewhat spicy, and sweet when cooked flavor as scallions. They are also clean and crisp which makes a nice characteristic to add raw to salads and pico de gallo. If you add them to cooked dishes in place of scallions, it is preferred to cook them quickly.
Like other onion bulb substitutes, the flavor mellows down when they are sliced and soaked in cold or iced water. Their sweet, crisp taste becomes more vivid that you can practically eat them.
8. Fresh Chives
Fresh Chives are very similar to scallions in taste, only the flavor is a little milder. You can use them in any recipe that calls for scallions to give it a bit of an oniony flavor. Chives are often used raw in salads or sandwiches. However, they also work well with cooked foods. They have a delicate onion flavor that goes well with potatoes, chicken, and fish.
When using chives as a substitute for scallions, you should still use about half as much as the recipe calls for because they don’t have quite as powerful of an onion flavor. Also, chop them finely and add just before serving.
9. Freeze-Dried Scallions
Freeze-dried scallions have virtually the same flavor as young, fresh scallions. Although they don’t look as vibrant as the fresh ones, they make a very good replacement for stews, soups, vegetable dishes, and even makes egg quiche more delectable.
Freeze-dried scallions are also very convenient if you live far away from marketplaces to get fresh scallions or even the other fresh substitutes. Most freeze-dried scallions have both the green and white parts of the scallion and are carefully processed and preserved.
10. Freeze-Dried Spring Onions
Most freeze-dried spring onions also have almost the same flavor and aroma as fresh spring onions. The sweet scallion-like subtlety is preserved in most freeze-dried spring onions making it a reliable and convenient replacement for fresh scallions. You can use them for cooking, salads, and garnishing.
The Winter season makes it very challenging to obtain fresh scallions or any other fresh substitutes. Additionally, you can’t buy a lot of the fresh ones and save them for later use because they will eventually go to waste. For all of these reasons, these freeze-dried spring onions make a very convenient and economic substitute.
Relevant FAQs on Substitutes for Scallions
What are scallions classified as?
Scallions are part of the allium vegetable family along with onions and garlic.
Is green onion a scallion?
Yes, they are basically the same thing. Scallion and green onion are used interchangeably. The only difference is their harvest age.
Why do they call green onions scallions?
Scallions are young green onions; they are harvested during the earlier stage of their growth. A scallion’s white bulb is smaller and slimmer than the white bulb of green onion.
Scallions or green onions complement so many dishes and they’re great for adding a little taste. They’re also cheap! However, they are not available year-round, and sometimes what you already have in your cupboard can actually be a good replacement. It’s handy to have a few top-of-the-mind substitutes for scallions rather than driving miles away to the grocery store or the market just to get a few, or worse, ending up with an unsatisfying dish just because you miss that one key ingredient.