What’s the Difference Between Scallions, Green Onions, and Spring Onions?

Ever feel a bit confused as to the difference between scallions, green onions, and spring onions? You wouldn’t be the first – they look very similar to each other. Knowing the difference, though, is essential since each is used for different purposes when cooking. Here, we’ll give you a brief rundown of the differences between the three types.


  • The first type of scallion is simply a young green onion (Allium cepa, the scientific name for the common onion). They will have a small bulb.
  • The second type of scallion, or “true scallion” (Allium fistulosum), will not have a bulb as this species is not bulb-producing. This species is also known as the Japanese bunching onion.
  • Scallions have a very mild flavor but smell similar to developed onions when first harvested

Green Onions

  • Green onions also come in two types – allium cepa and Allium fistulosum
  • Unlike the “true scallion,” allium cepa green onions have a bulb and will have a larger bulb than the younger green onion (also referred to as a scallion).
  • Green onions have a more intense (but still mild) flavor when compared to scallions, regardless of species

Spring Onion

  • Spring onions have had more time to grow than either scallions or green onions before being harvested.
  • Since the young onions have had more to grow, the bulb will be round, appearing like a tiny round onion. This roundness is the clearest indicator of the vegetable being a spring onion rather than a scallion or green onion.
  • The bulb of a spring onion will measure around 1 inch in diameter

Wrapping Up

Overall, the main difference between scallions, green onions, and spring onions is their age, with scallions being the youngest and spring onions the oldest. The “true scallion” will not produce a bulb. Scallion, green onion, and spring onion are often used interchangeably in food markets, though there is a difference if you want to be specific. We hope this post has helped you a bit with sorting these vegetables in your mind!