Green onions, also called scallions, are a delicious and incredibly versatile member of the allium family. They can be used cooked or raw, and are found in cuisines all around the world.
In this article, I’ll break down the different parts of the plant, their best uses, and of course how to cut them. So grab a sharp knife and let’s get prepping.
How To Prep And Use Green Onions
No matter what you’re using green onions for, your first step is to clean them.
To do this, rinse them thoroughly under cold water. Pay special attention to the area where it branches into the green tops as that’s a prime hiding spot for sand and dirt.
Next, remove any wilted, brown, or slimy tops and outer layers. If you’ll be using the entire green onion, trim off the bottom just above the roots. But, if you’ll be saving the whites for another use or you’ll be regrowing the scallion, keep the roots intact.
Pro Tip: Don’t trim the tops of the green onions while you’re cleaning them. Instead, use that as a handle so you have something to hold on to as your cutting. Then, stop cutting as you get close to the end and discard or compost any discolored or dry tips.
Greens vs. Whites
Green onions are often divided into two parts; greens (tops) and whites (bottoms).
In general, the whites have a sharper and more onion-like flavor. Because of this, it’s common for the whites to be cooked, while the more mild greens are used raw as a garnish.
But, that’s definitely not always the case, as raw green onion whites add an excellent bite to things like chili, salads, and salsas.
The Most Common Cuts For Green Onions
Place cleaned green onions horizontally on your cutting board.
You can do this with one or an entire bunch. If you haven’t done this before, I’d recommend starting with a single onion, and only adding more as you feel comfortable and in control with your abilities.
Hold the green onions in place with your non-dominant hand, and using your knuckles as a guard, slice the green onions into rounds.
You can use a circular rocking cut or a push cut on green onions.
Instead of pressing straight down on the product, aim to have your knife moving forward as it comes in contact. This will give you a cleaner cut and ensure your slicing through rather than crushing the green onions.
Green onion rounds are very versatile and can be made as thin or thick as you’d like, but consider what you’ll be using them for. If you’ll be eating them raw, try for a 1/16 to an ⅛ of an inch. And if they’ll be cooked you can go a bit larger since the flavor will mellow out as they’re heated.
If you don’t have one, an inexpensive bench scraper can be an incredibly helpful tool for measuring your cuts and then collecting all of the prepped onions quickly once the cutting is done.
A bias cut is very similar to cutting rounds, with the major difference being that the cut is done at an angle rather than straight across the scallions.
When cooked, you can quickly lose the distinct shape of a bias cut. So in most cases, this is used for raw applications or for very quick cooking like in a stir fry.
To make a bias cut, place your cleaned green onions on a cutting board so that they are angled down towards your cutting hand. At this point, the cutting process is the same as for rounds.
You can change how steep or long your bias is by increasing the angle of the green onions on your cutting board. If you’re doing a very shallow bias, you can cut several green onions at a time. But as you get steeper, it’s much easier if you are only cutting one at a time.
Julienned green onions are great as a garnish or stirred into soups at the last minute. You can also place them in a glass of ice water to make attractive green onion curls.
Start by cutting your cleaned green onions into manageable lengths. Around 2-inches is a pretty common length for julienne, but you can really make them as long or short as you’d like.
Then, split each piece in half lengthwise so you have long half-moons, instead of full rounds. Now, place them cut side down (round side up) and slice them lengthwise as thin as possible.
Not exactly a knife cut, but there are some great uses for whole green onions.
Try grilling them whole and adding them to tacos, burritos, or as a side for BBQ. You can also char whole green onions and then chop them up for use in salsas, dips, and dressings.
All you need to do is remove the roots and any discolored tips and you’re good to go.
How To Store Green Onions
If your green onions still have the roots intact, the best way to store them is root side down, in a glass with a couple of inches of water.
When using this storage method you can keep the green onions in the refrigerator or out at room temperature. When left out, the green onions will actually continue to grow and can last for months.
What’s more, you can trim off and use the tops of those green onions and they will sprout new ones that you can continue to harvest.
When stored this way in the fridge, they won’t continue to grow but will stay fresh and crisp for several weeks.
If the roots have been removed, store the green onions in the fridge in a plastic bag or another container with a lid to help retain moisture. I like deli containers because they’re inexpensive, easy to label, reusable and space efficient.
Whole green onions with roots removed can still last a week or two when stored this way. But, once they have been prepped and sliced, it’s best to use them within 3-5 days.
Tools For The Job
All you need for green onion prep is a good sharp knife, with sharp being the keyword.
A dull knife will end up crushing the cell walls of the green onion instead of cleanly slicing through them. And that can have a negative effect on taste, texture, and shelf life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Part Of The Green Onion Should I Use?
You can use the entire green onion except for the roots. The white portion towards the bottom will have a slightly stronger, onion flavor. While the green tops are flavorful but milder.
Can I Regrow Green Onions In My Kitchen?
You can regrow green onions as long as the roots are still intact. To do so, simply place the green onion root side down in a jar with a couple of inches of water. Then keep them on the counter or in a window and they should continue to sprout.
What’s The Difference Between Chives, Scallions, And Green Onions?
Scallions and green onions are two different names used interchangeably for the same plant. Chives, on the other hand, are an herb in the same family. They still have an onion-y flavor but it’s much more delicate.