Selecting Scallions

Scallions are immature Welsh onions (Allium fistulosum), although the term can apply to any immature versions of several species of the genus Allium, all of which have hollow green leaves and an under-developed root bulb. They’re harvested early, before the bulb has a chance to swell to its full size. What results is a tiny bulb with long, green, edible tops. Scallions, which are also called green onions, spring onions, salad onions, table onions, green shallots, onion sticks, long onions, baby onions, precious onions, yard onions, gibbons, or syboes, share the Allium genus with chivesleeks, garliconions, shallots, and elephant garlic.  All of these species, belong, in turn, to the Amaryllidaceae family, which includes many ornamentals, such as the belladonna lily, tuberose, snowdrop, snowflake, daffodil, Cape tulip, Peruvian lily, and amaryllis.

People have consumed onions since prehistoric times. Wild onions grow in Central Asia where the whole family of onions may have originated, although it may have been in the area of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  Onions were cultivated in the gardens of the ancient kings from 2100 BC–716 BC from Ur to Babylon. The Code of Hammurabi, known as the ancient law of Mesopotamia, mandates providing the needy with a monthly ration of bread and onions, which became the mainstay of the peasant diet.

When the ancient pyramids were built, onions were fed to the workers. Archaeologists found onions in ancient Egyptian tombs and painted on the walls of the pyramids.

By 500 BC, onions were a common peasant food in Greece, along with garlic, peas, cabbage, and beans. Because onions grew easily and extensively, peasants could afford onions as a staple. The word scallion, along with the word shallot, can be traced back to the Greek askolonion as described by the Greek writer Theophrastus (c. 371–c. 287 BC). This name, in turn, seems to originate from the Philistine town of Ascalon (modern-day Ashkelon in Israel) where many Europeans once mistakenly thought scallions originated.

In 1629, Allium fistulosum was introduced to Wales and became known as the Welsh onion.

California and Mexico are major producers of scallions, along with Arizona, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Colorado, Illinois, and Washington.

Scallions contain just 32 calories and 2.6 grams of  fiber per 1-cup serving. Scallions, like other Allium species, contain thio-sulfinate antioxidants, such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide, and allyl propyl disulfide. When scallions are crushed, chopped, or chewed, breaking the cells, these compounds mix with the enzyme, alliinase to form allicin, a sulphur-containing indole compound, that can fight infections, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Scallions can:

  1. Fight cancer. Eating allium vegetables, such as scallions, may reduce your risk of several types of cancer. Organosulfur phytochemicals in scallions stop the growth of cancerous tumors, trigger the death of cancer cells, and prevent new cancer cells from developing. Scallions are a good source of an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound called quercetin, which helps to lower your risk of stomach and colon cancer. Scallions contain vitamin A (997 IU or 20% of Daily Value per 100 grams) and other flavonoid phenolic antioxidants such as carotenes, zeaxanthin, and lutein. Together, they help protect your body from lung and oral cavity cancers. The allicin in scallions can inhibit Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that increases your risk for stomach cancer.
  2. Promote cardiovascular health. A diet rich in quercetin-containing scallions may also lower the risk of heart disease. The allicin in scallions reduces cholesterol production by inhibiting the HMG-CoA reductase enzyme in your liver cells. It also reduces blood pressure by decreasing blood vessel stiffness by releasing a vasodilator compound, nitric oxide (NO). In addition, it blocks platelet clot formation and provides fibrinolytic (clot-removal) action in your blood vessels, which helps decrease your overall risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), peripheral vascular diseases (PVD), and stroke.
  3. Fight colds, flu, and allergies. Allicin also has anti-viral properties that helps to fight off cold and flu viruses. It’s the compound responsible for many of the health benefits of garlic. A diet rich in quercetin-containing scallions may also ease the symptoms of allergy due to their antihistamine-like effect. The allicin in scallions can inhibit bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in your digestive tract, including Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria responsible for gastric ulcers that increases your risk for stomach cancer.
  4. Promote normal blood clotting, digestive health, bone health, and brain health. Scallions are an excellent source of vitamin K — 1 cup contains 259 percent of the daily recommended intake of this vitamin. The vitamin K in this vegetable plays an important role in normal blood clotting. Vitamin K may also have a bearing on inflammatory bowel disease, as patients with this condition tested with a vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain; thus, has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Scallions are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and folate– and are a decent source of potassiumironcalciummanganesemagnesiumphosphoruscopper, and zinc. They add lots of flavor to food at only nine calories per ounce, and they have only trace amounts of fat.

Nutrients in 1 Cup (100 Grams) Chopped Scallions



Daily Value

vitamin K

207 µg


vitamin C

18.8 mg


vitamin A

997 IU



64 µg



2.6 g



276 mg



1.48 mg



0.16 mg



72 mg



20 mg



0.08 mg



37 mg



1.83 g



0.083 mg



0.055 mg


vitamin B6

0.61 mg


vitamin E

0.55 mg



0.525 mg



0.39 mg






7.34 g



16 mg



0.6 µg


pantothenic acid

0.075 mg



0.2 g



0 mg



1137 µg


598 µg

If you are growing scallions in your garden, harvest them when the bulb reaches about ¼ inches in diameter by gently pulling the entire plant.

Fresh scallions are readily available in grocery stores year-round. They usually sold in bunches. Select clean, uniform, firm, crispy, pencil-thin stalks featuring well-formed, green tubules. Avoid over-mature, withered, yellow, discolored, or dry leaves.

At home, wash the scallions in cold water, gently pat them dry using a moisture-absorbent cloth, and store them inside the refrigerator placed in a paper or cloth bag set at high relative humidity, where they will keep for a week to 10 days.

To prepare, trim off roots and peel off  the first layer of leaves. Wash the whole scallion in a bowl of cold water. Pat dry. Chop the leaves closely using a paring knife into rings, sticks, diagonals, or whatever shape you prefer.

Use scallions in recipes whenever you want a subtle flavor of onions but not their strong pungent flavor. Scallions add bright green color to your recipes.

Use scallions in:

  • Raw salads
  • Stews, especially those with potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and green peas
  • Savory pancakes, soufflés, pasta, fritters, noodles, and soup
  • Stir-fries, noodles, and fried rice

This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this blog to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

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