4 Amazing Chives Substitutes

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Chives substitutes are easy to find, thanks to the mild flavor of these plants, as well as the wide variety of closely related vegetables and herbs on the market. Chives are a dark green plant that resembles long thin grass and produce vibrant purple flowers. They are also a delicate, seasonal plant used to flavor savory meals. Chives are soft, and very thin, but have a much milder flavor than their close cousins. They are best used as a flavoring component or garnish, as they are too mild to hold up on their own.

Best Chives Substitutes

Chives are in the vast ‘Alliumfamily, which includes onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, and shallots. You may need chive substitutes if you run out of these flavorful stalks halfway through your meal prep, or if you simply want to alter the flavor profile of a dish. Because they are somewhat fragile, they can also be hard to find in certain seasons, but there are plenty of excellent substitutes that you may already have at home.


Also sold as green onions, scallions are the closest thing to chives that you’ll find. They are longer, thicker, and more fibrous than chives and their onion flavor is more pronounced. Chop scallions very fine and start with ¾ of the number of chives that are called for in the recipe.


Leeks are like the hardy big sibling of chives and scallions. Their thick green tops are inedible- but save them for simmering in homemade stock. The white base can be sliced thin and used in salad dressing or given a quick sauté as a fish topping or with a vegetable side.


Large onions may be too overpowering to use in place of chives, but shallots are a great substitute. Shallots are small and purplish with a milder onion flavor than their larger counterparts. Slice shallots very thin and they’ll practically disappear when cooking, leaving a wonderful flavor behind. Shallots are great in dressings, or you can try them raw and sliced paper-thin on a salad.

Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow from garlic bulbs. They resemble long curly green beans and have a similar crunch, but also an amazing garlicky flavor. Garlic scapes are tough enough to hold up in a stir-fry, but mild enough to replace chives when diced finely. Try them in a pesto or green goddess dressing. Garlic scapes are definitely not available everywhere, nor in all seasons, but your local farmers market or specialty produce stand are good places to find them.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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