Ever wonder what the difference between garlic chive vs onion chives is? While chives come many different types, the two most common varieties are garlic chives and onion chives. Delicious to eat and easy to grow, here is everything you need to know about these alliums to choose, grow, use and enjoy them both.
Chives are a delicious and versatile ingredient in any herb garden. I love seeing them pop up in early spring. Garlic chives and onion chives both add fresh flavor and dark green color, making them a great addition to almost every savory dish.
While very similar and sometimes used interchangeably, there are some key differences between garlic chives vs onion chives. Read on to find out all about these tasty and robust plants. (For more info on herbs check out 20 Ways To Use + Preserve Lavender, What to use as a parsley substitute, Best recipes to use mint, and the differences between Lavender + Rosemary.
Garlic chives, also known as Chinese garlic chives or Allium tuberosum, have been cultivated since ancient times in Asia. They are characterized by their flat, grass-like leaves and white, star shaped flowers. Their mild garlic flavor is far more subtle than a raw clove of real garlic.
The entire plant is edible, including the long green stems and edible white flowers. In fact, the chive flower buds are a popular ingredient in Chinese recipes and are often used to add a subtle hint of garlic to dishes. I particularly love garlic chive flowers snipped from the base and sprinkled over salads as a beautiful and aromatic garnish.
These hardy perennials thrive in fertile soil and can be grown in various climates. Garlic chives start growing in early spring and can continue on right through late summer and into early fall if kept watered and the flowers picked. They are low-maintenance plants and can be easily propagated through seeds or division.
Garlic chives are known to attract pollinators. Bees and butterflies love the flower heads making them an eco-friendly addition to your garden. These common chives do best in full sun but can be grown in partial shade too and will benefit from some shade during the hottest summer days.
Harvest them as needed by cutting them at their base. Use right away or store, wrapped in a moist paper towel in a plastic bag or airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
When it comes to incorporating garlic chives into your cooking, it's easy. Use them anywhere you want some mild onion flavor. They can be used fresh or cooked, depending on the dish and the desired intensity of the garlic flavor.
For a more intense flavor, try using raw chives in salads or omelets. Garlic chives are great as a garnish on top of soups and stews like spring vegetable soup, Japanese miso soup, borscht, beef or lentil stew. In Chinese cuisine, they are added to dumplings, stir-fries, and noodle dishes, where they contribute a delicate, garlicky taste.
Onion chives, or Allium schoenoprasum, are possibly the most popular variety of chives. They are characterized by their round, hollow, grass-green stems (different from the grass-like leaf of the garlic chive) and stiff flower stems with a pom pom-like purple flower.
Onion chives also produce edible flowers, which can range from pink to purple in color. Commonly grown throughout North America, they are believed to be native to Europe and Asia. a more subtle onion taste.
Onion chives are also hardy perennials that can be grown in a variety of climates from zone 3-9. While they like full sun and can tolerate high heat, they prefer a more temperate spot in your garden that will offer a little shade during the hottest months of summer. Rich soil will encourage more growth.
Their green leaves peek out of the ground in early spring and will continue until late fall if provided with water and dead-headed throughout the season. They are easy to cultivate, and just like garlic chives, they attract pollinators to your garden.
Harvest them as you would garlic chives and cut them at their base. Use right away or store, wrapped in a moist paper towel in a plastic bag or airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Onion chives have a milder flavor compared to garlic chives, making them a versatile ingredient in many dishes. These chives can be used just as you would use green onions from the grocery store. They can be used both raw and cooked, though it's essential to avoid overcooking them to preserve their delicate flavor.
Some popular ways to use onion chives include salads, egg dishes like omelets, quiche and scrambled, on a baked potato and as a garnish for salads, soups and stews.
While garlic chives and onion chives share some similarities, they also have distinct differences in their appearance, flavor, and culinary uses.
Botanical Names + Info Of Garlic Chives vs Onion Chives
All chives belong to the Allium genus in the lily family which includes a wide range of onions species and garlic. Though some think they are just immature onions. While they are in the same genus as onions, they are a distinct species. They will not grow a large bulb when full mature but may have small bulbous white roots.
Allium tuberosum are garlic chives. Other common names include Chinese chives, Asian chives, Oriental garlic and Chinese leeks.
Allium schoenoprasum are onion chives. Other common names include simply chives, wild chives, regular chives or common chives.
Another similar chive in the onion family is allium nutan, more commonly known as Siberian chives and sometimes blue chives. The leaves have a more blue green color and the flowers range from pink to purple and are larger and looser than the onion chive flowers. Siberian chives produce a more defined and larger bulb than garlic or common chives.
Garlic Chives: Grass-like, flat leaves with white, star-shaped flowers more loosely spaced than their onion chive cousin. I like to think of them as a star burst pattern.
Onion Chives: Round, hollow stems with purple flowers that grow tightly in a ball on top of chive stems. A fluffy purple pom pom!
Garlic Chives: Mild garlic flavor with a bit of onion flavor.
Onion Chives: Subtle onion taste, much milder that bulb onions and even a little milder than green onions or scallions.
Substitutes for Chives
Green onions or scallions are the closest substitute for chives. Garlic scapes are a decent substitute for garlic chives and in cooked recipes, the light and white parts of leeks can be substituted.
Popular Ways To Use Chives In Recipes
To highlight the unique flavors and versatility of various chives, try experimenting with some popular recipes that accentuate their taste. Chop up the green parts and use the white roots too, if they're attached.
Try a garlic chive stir-fry with tofu, and a savory sauce is simple and delicious.
Chives are a common and tasty ingredient in ramen recipes and noodle bowls. Add to the simmering broth and top with fresh snipped chives to garnish.
Chinese pancakes (crepes) filled with BBQ duck or pork and garlic chives are a traditional delicacy.
Spring onion chive pancakes served with sour cream or other sauce.
Chive and Cheese Scones are a savory twist on the classic scone, featuring onion chives and sharp cheddar cheese. Eat them plain or serve them up with some soup.
Chive pesto makes a fresh and flavorful variation on traditional pesto. Grind up garlic and onion chives, nuts, and Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt, pepper and olive oil.
Creamy chive dip is a party staple! A quick, crowd-pleasing dip made with a blend of sour cream, cream cheese, and fresh chives makes a great dip for summer veggies or potato chips.
For chefs and home cooks alike, chives are a fantastic ingredient to grow or buy at the farmer's market. I hope the info about garlic chives vs onion chives is helpful. With their diverse flavors and endless uses, garlic chives and onion chives add a touch of freshness and depth to savory recipes.
I urge you to grow your own chives in the garden or a patio pot or seek them out at the green grocer. Experiment with these versatile green herbs and add lots for bright green flavor and color to your recipes!
Recipes With Chives
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Cheers and happy cooking, Friends! Sabrina