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I've seen some recipes call for green onions but always use spring onions? Is there a difference between them? Is there a better substitute?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

It's a regional preference on what they're called.

When you're buying seeds, they're also called "bunching onions", and I grew up calling them "scallions", although I think that scallion specifically don't have a bulb yet formed, while green/spring onions might.

update : A little research suggests that "spring onion" is the preferred term in the UK, AU and Canada, "green onion" in the US south, and "scallion" in the US northeast, however I'm not sure what the exact boundries are as in the US mid-atlantic, I'll see both "green onions" and "scallions" for sale, with "green onions" being larger (scallions with no bulb, maybe 12"/30cm long, while green onions might have a 2"/5cm bulb, and have over 24"/60cm of green top). It's possible that "green onion" might be a polysemous term that varies by region.

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Actually, on the West Coast of the USA, "spring onions" refers specifically to the immature stalks of large-bulb onions (usually red onions) harvested in the early spring, as opposed to the almost-mature stalks of small-bulb onions (scallions or green onions). So if you're reading a recipe from a California chef, "spring onions" are not the same as green onions, although you can probably substitute without real changes. – FuzzyChef Jan 29 '12 at 20:30

Southeast US: Scallions and green onions are basically the same thing, no bulb; spring onions have a bulb.

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