Best Substitutes for Spring Onion

Spring onions are a wonderful thing to have on hand in your kitchen. They have a wonderfully fresh and fragrant flavor, as well as having that earthy richness that cooked onion of any type has.

If you haven’t got any spring onions in your kitchen, you may think that you’re at a loss. Don’t worry, though, we’re sure that you’ll be able to make a great meal with one of these substitutes!

7 Best Substitutes for Spring Onion

Red spring onions

Red spring onions are the first on our list because, quite honestly, they’re probably the best substitutes. They’re virtually identical to regular spring onions aside from their color. This means that the flavor is exceptionally similar, and they can be replaced in a one-to-one ratio.

The main drawback of these onions is that they can be a little tricky to track down, especially when they’re not in season. Try asking your greengrocer when they normally have these onions in stock, and they should be happy to help you out however they can.

The preparation itself is simple, the same as how a spring onion is – simply wash them and slice off the end. Their flavor is virtually the same as spring onions, so we can’t recommend them enough as a substitute.

Red onions

Red onions aren’t the best option for you to go for straight away since they can be stronger than spring onions themselves. However, they’re certainly worth considering! As they cook, their flavor typically becomes sweeter and a little more complex, meaning that they’re exceptionally versatile in a huge number of ways.

These are a great option for a replacement when you might be having any kind of onion raw. They’re typically less harsh than other onions, and their bright color brings some vibrancy to stews, noodle dishes, and finger food.

While red onions may well be your final substitution option in most cases, they’re certainly something that should be considered, depending upon what you’re using the spring onions for in the main dish itself. Red onions may be well suited to that job!

Green onions

Spring onions and green onions are actually two different plants. This was a shock to us since they look so similar! Looking back through our years of buying produce from different people in different locales, we must have mistaken one for the other at one time or another.

The primary difference can be seen in the store, which makes it easy to buy the correct one when you’ve got your eye out for them. Green onions have round bulbs at their base, while spring onions have straight tips. This doesn’t really mean that much in terms of overall flavor, but if a recipe is specific as to which one it calls for, you’ll be able to pick up the correct one.

Green onions are a good middle ground between the harsh, slightly bitter flavor of white onion and the light, delicate flavor of green onions. This means that they can be used quite universally as a replacement, which is handy for most dishes that you might be making.


While leeks are exceptionally unlikely to be your first choice for a spring onion replacement, they’re definitely worth considering! A good leek will have a well-rounded and buttery flavor, enhanced by a slight onion note. Leeks a generally considered to taste quite like onion, but to have a slightly more ‘green’ flavor.

Leeks make a great substitute for spring onion in dishes where they’re sued as a primary ingredient that will be finely chopped and fried at first, before being stewed for a long time. A great example of this is soups and stews, or even something like a marinara sauce. While it might sound odd, it can be tasty indeed.

To get the ideal replacement ratio of onions to leeks, you may need to do a little experimentation. Thankfully, that experimentation is sure to be tasty!


Standard white onions can be quite bitter in some situations, but providing you cook them right, people likely won’t notice the difference. Both spring onions and white onions, when cooked in some dishes that make use of spicy ingredients like chili peppers, white onions will be a great substitute. This is because onions can have quite hot notes, which will be overwhelmed by the chili – the remaining notes of the onion will be indistinguishable from those of green onions.

The thing to bear in mind when using white onions in this case is to downsize the amount of onion that you’re using in your recipe. For example, one large onion is equivalent to, perhaps, twelve spring onions. Bear that recipe in mind, and change the amount of onion you’re using accordingly.


Chives are a great substitute for spring onions in a whole heap of different situations. Their flavor can, effectively, be described as a sweeter, milder version of white onion. As this is something that can also be used to describe spring onions, chives can work well as a spring onion substitute.

Consider using chives in any situation where you might find yourself using spring onions raw. This is a great option as chives being raw is the state in which they have the best flavor notes – bright, light, and wonderfully herby.


Shallots are a wonderful option when looking out for a spring onion substitute. Their flavor is perfectly mild, especially when compared to a regular white onion. They grow in clusters, like how garlic typically does. Their flavor is perhaps best described as a balance between garlic and onion – something with an overall mild, sweet flavor.

Shallots themselves make a wonderful alternative for almost any dish. The only thing that we would suggest not serving them in is particularly spicy dishes – their flavor is typically lost when competing with chili peppers or similar ingredients and pastes.

We hope that this article has been able to help you make sure to use different ingredients in the place of spring onions in your kitchen – there are plenty of alternatives out there, and we wish you happy cooking with all of them!

Kunal Sharma
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