Scallions, also known as green onions, are the unsung heroes of modern cuisine. More restaurants than you might think use them to spruce up not only the flavor of their dishes, but also the presentation. Nothing quite matches their subtlety of flavor, nor their vibrant hue.
However, sometimes you just do not have them on hand. For times like these it is best to find a substitute. But what can substitute one of the most nuanced flavors in produce? What could possibly replace it?
So what can you use for scallion substitutes? There are actually a great many replacements, from chives to ramps, to onion powder. The trick is finding something that can bring the oniony flavor of the scallions without affecting the texture of the food too much. Texture is a layer of cooking that is often overlooked but can make or break a dish.
With that in mind, take a look at these five scallion substitutes to use the next time you cook.
Chives are probably the best scallion substitute. They match scallions almost exactly for flavor, texture, and appearance. In fact, there are some people who will swear to you that chives and scallions are the same thing.
They have differences, but they are very slight differences. Chives and scallions burn at different temperatures, for instance. This does not matter much when they both burn at a high temperature than any of the food they go into though, as this means you never need to burn them as part of a recipe. That is the biggest difference.
While not so similar as chives in terms of their appearance, shallots are an interesting vegetable. They look like onions, but they are actually part of the allium family. This means they look like onions, and taste somewhat similar, but are much smaller and have a different texture.
Let none of this be misconstrued as a deal breaker, however. Shallots work in place of scallions perfectly well. Just know that if your dish (or the people you are serving it to) is sensitive to texture changes, then shallots might be noticeable. Their taste is so similar though that they more than make up for it.
3. Onion Powder
Onion powder is an absolute cheat code when it comes to cooking. Are you worried that the texture or onions will negatively affect your dish? Are you cooking something super well-done, and do not want to risk burning any produce in the process? Or maybe you just want a bunch more flavor than you want mass?
Onion powder addresses all of these concerns. This is because onion powder is ground up, concentrated onions. Like many things made of matter, onions are mostly empty space. They are not very dense, and as such they can be concentrated into a far more potent powder once compressed.
Just be careful not to use too much onion powder. It is easy to overdo it due to the powder being so flavorful.
Ramps are a strange scallion replacement, as few people are totally aware of their existence. They look like most other kinds of onions, except for an absolutely gigantic green stalk. They also have an interesting flavor, though it is interesting in a different way than, say, the onion powder from before. Ramps’ flavor is complex.
Ramps are unique for many reasons, but chief among them is the fact that they taste like garlic almost as much as they taste like onions. This can be a downside as much as an upside, as not everyone likes the mixture of garlic and onions. Garlic is an easier flavor to hide, however, if you wish to circumvent it.
5. Spring Onions
Spring onions have a deceptive name. They aren’t actually a different species of onion, but instead any onion that is harvested early in the spring rather than late in the summer. This can have a dramatic effect on the onion though, affecting everything from its flavor to its texture.
Remember how onions are not very dense, and mostly empty space? Spring onions are much younger, smaller, and therefore more concentrated. This means they can have the upside of onion powder’s flavor without the downside of how easy it is to overdo. And, if you like the texture of onions, they provide that too.
What Is The Best Scallion Substitute?
This is a hard question to give a definitive answer for, as every option has its own drawbacks and advantages. But if you are looking for a single answer that has the fewest drawbacks and the most advantages, ramps are probably your best bet. It might not seem like it due to their garlic flavor, but that flavor can be easily hidden.
Hiding flavors is an advanced skill in cooking, but it is an important one, especially when substituting ingredients. Garlic is easy to cover up with any savory flavor though, eliminating ramps’ one big difference between them and scallions, as well as circumventing their drawback entirely.
What Is The Most Healthy Scallion Substitute?
Of the options listed here the healthiest is easy to determine: Spring onions.
The health value of a vegetable has two layers to it that are easy to understand. The first is the vitamins the vegetable naturally carries. These will usually be vitamins like vitamin A, B, and E, which help with all sorts of chemical reactions in the human body. The second health benefit of vegetables is often overlooked, however.
Vegetables can only carry nutrients, especially calcium and iron, while their enzymes still live. Enzymes, to be brief, are the hormones that keep the vegetable alive. The vegetable starts to die after it has been picked, so there is only so long a vegetable can last before they lose all health value.
Spring onions are the most healthy due to being so young that their enzymes last the longest. This means that calcium and iron, as well as all the vitamins spring onions come with, will be more plentiful by the time you eat the spring onions. This makes them far and away the most healthy on this list.