How to Cut Green Onions (Scallions)

various ways to cut green onion

Green onions, otherwise known as scallions, have a nice sweet, crisp, and mild flavor compared to their bulbous cousins the onion, which have a stronger and spicier flavor when eaten raw, and they are also in the same family as chives, leeks, and shallots.

You can eat green onions raw, add them as a garnish, or cook with them in various recipes, like mỡ hành, phở gà, Vietnamese pork chops, and mì khô xá xíu. Since there are so many different ways of eating and incorporating green onions in food, there are also many different ways of cutting and preparing them.

How to identify and select green onions

green onions and a chefs knife

Green onions actually consist of two different sections. The white bulbous portion has a similar taste to onions as they are a bit stronger in flavor, and the darker green section has a sweet and milder flavor that make it great for garnishes.

When you are choosing green onions at the store, make sure to choose ones with firm stalks, bright green ends, and no wilted or damaged outer leaves.

Prepping and washing

trimming off green onion roots

  1. Look over green onions and remove any wilted or dead outer layers.
  2. Under running water, clean the green onions and remove dirt.
  3. Line them up horizontally on your cutting board and locate the end with the roots (this is the white end). Cut off about half an inch to remove the root. 
  4. Depending on what kind of cut you want to make follow the steps below. 

Rounds or circular cuts

slicing green onion into rounds

Circular cuts give you small or long ring-like shapes of green onions. This type of shape is typically used in many different recipes from soups to fried foods to sauteed foods: miến gà (small pieces), dậu sốt cà chua (small pieces), gà xào sả ớt (long pieces), bò lúc lắc (long pieces), and bún riêu (long pieces).

circular cut green onions

If your recipe calls for circular cuts, line your green onions horizontally again and cut thin or thick slices perpendicular to the green onions. The motion of your hand when you make these cuts should be small circular motions

45-degree bias cuts

green onion cut at a 45 degree angle

Some recipes call for diagonal cuts for green onions and this is mostly for preference since this is a more decorative cut. For example, you can add green onions at a bias cut when you make garlic noodles. You can typically interchange circular cuts with bias cuts for green onions, but make sure to check your recipe first.

I like to cut about two or three lines of green onions and line my knife perpendicularly with the green onions. Then, I move my knife to make a 45 degree angle. Cut the green onions in a diagonal and this should make angled cuts.

Shredding or curling

shredded or curled green onion

Shredded or curled cuts are long or short strips of green onions that are thin and slightly curled. You can typically find in recipes like Korean salads, toppings, stir fries, and more.

Growing up my mom used a shredder to cut long and thin strips of green onions. If you don’t have a shredder at home, you can also use your knife to cut long and thin strips of green onions. Position the green ends in a vertical line on your cutting board, and make a slight diagonal angle when you cut long, thin strips.  

Mincing

minced green onions

Some recipes require your to mince green onions for an additional topping, for example Mỡ Hành and Vietnamese pork chops. Follow the same steps as you would on circular thin cuts and afterwards, use your knife to further chop the green onions into finer pieces. 

Tips:

  • Get a sharp knife! Using a sharp knife helps you prevent accidents and is safer than using a dull knife. A dull knife is unpredictable and may slip on food or your cutting board if you need to add more pressure when cutting, and may cause many more issues. 
  • Safety: with your non-dominant hand, you need to protect your fingers from getting hurt by making a claw-like shape with your hands and tucking in your fingernails.
  • Don’t crush the green onions while you’re trying to hold them.

How to store green onions

In the refrigerator

putting green onion in a jar for refrigerator storage

If you have leftover uncut green onions, you can keep them in the fridge in the vegetable drawer. They should last about a week without molding. However, you can keep them for longer than a week, wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a ziplock bag; this should make them last an additional week. 

Storing in the freezer

You can also freeze green onions in your freezer, however, I would recommend cutting them down first and only using them in stews or roasted recipes because freezing changes their texture after they defrost. Green onions can last for a couple months.

Regrowing green onions

green onions in a jar, for regrowing

It’s worth mentioning that you shouldn’t throw away the rooted bulb when you use green onions. You can regrow them and make more! All you need to do is save the white roots that you cut off and leave them root side down in a cup of water near a window for a couple days and grow your own green onions. 

Are green onions and chives the same thing?

Green onions and chives are part of the same family, but they are different types of herbs. Chives are thinner and hollow, and they also typically are used as raw garnish.

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