Indeed, it can be very confusing to differentiate between leeks and scallions. Scallions and leeks are both members of the allium family, which means that they’re closely related cousins — but not identical twins.
While there are some similarities between scallions vs leeks, there are also some important differences. So I’ve decided to clear the air in this article.
Scallions have straight, hollow green leaves and a small white base (tender enough to eat), while leeks have sturdy dark green leaves with light green stripes that flare out from a thick white base (not typically eaten).
However, that is not the biggest difference between scallions and leeks, let’s explore the key differences below!
What Are Scallions?
Scallions are an onion family member – young onions harvested before the bulb develops. They’re milder in flavor than mature onions, with a crisp and juicy texture that makes them great for raw preparations.
Scallions have a more subtle and sweet taste than onions. The white bulb has a milder onion flavor, while the green parts have a more intense aroma.
Scallions are often compared to chives because they can be used interchangeably, though scallions tend to be larger and are not typically used as a garnish.
They are often used raw in salads or garnish, although they can be sautéed briefly in hot oil or butter to soften their flavor.
They can also be cooked for use in soups and stews but should be added near the end, so their flavor does not become too intense.
What Are Leeks?
Leeks are vegetables that belong to the onion family. Though they have a very similar appearance to green onions, leeks are typically larger and have much larger stalks than their cousins.
Leeks look like long, white tubes with dark green leaves at the end. Their flavor is very similar to scallions, though some people find them milder and sweeter.
Leeks can be eaten raw or cooked. Raw leeks are crisp and have a mild flavor, often described as sweet. They are commonly added to salads or sandwiches and can also substitute for onions in recipes.
Cooked leeks become tender and develop a rich flavor when sautéed or roasted with other ingredients such as garlic, olive oil, and butter.
They are often used in soups, pasta, stir-fries, and sauces because their subtle sweetness complements other flavors well without overpowering them as onions might do.
Scallions Vs Leeks: Key Differences
There are some similarities and some clear differences when it comes to scallions vs leeks. Both are members of the onion family, Allium.
They’re both parts of the Amaryllidaceae group and have a similar taste. They’re also used similarly: as additions to soups, salads, and other cooked dishes.
However, they look very different from one another. Scallions look like long green onions and have a thinner stalk than a leek does.
Leek has a thinner leafy green structure and a thicker white or green stem, usually eaten only partially.
The most important difference between scallions vs leeks is that scallions have no bulb at the base, while leeks do not
|Flavor||scallions have a sharper taste that is somewhat peppery||Leeks are mild with an Oniony taste with traces of garlicky when cooked|
|Size||Scallions are smaller and are sold in branches||Leeks are bigger than scallions and are sold in single stalks|
|Thickness||Scallions are slim with their nice little bub||Leeks are thicker with bigger leaves|
|Cook time||Scallions come to doneness less than leeks||Due to the thickness, leek demands a longer cooking time|
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Use Leeks Like Scallions?
Whether you’re looking for a way to add a little pizzazz to your plate or need an excuse to use up the leeks you bought on a whim, the answer is YES!
You can use Leeks in place of scallions. But you should have it at the back of your mind that Leeks have a milder flavor than scallions.
Aside from that, Leeks make an excellent addition to soups and stews, where their more delicate flavor adds extra oomph to your stock without being overpowering.
Are Leek Good For Weight Loss?
Leeks are known to promote weight loss. This is because it contains many vitamins, minerals, and fiber essential in the fat-burning process. And while they do contain carbohydrates, they’re low on the glycemic index.
This means that they won’t cause blood sugar levels to spike like refined sugars or certain other vegetables (such as potatoes) can. So leeks are a great choice for anyone looking to lose weight! They taste great and can be added to almost any dish, from soups and stews to salads and casseroles.
Between Scallions And Leeks, Which Is Healthier?
If you’re looking for a low-calorie, high-fiber, and nutrient-dense vegetable to add to your diet, look no further than the scallion.
Both scallions and leeks are in the onion genus and allium family, which means that they share many of the same benefits: they’re excellent sources of vitamins A, B6, and C, as well as iron and folate.
They can both help support bone health. They have similar levels of calcium. Both are fat-, sodium-, gluten-, cholesterol-, and sugar-free.
However, scallions are typically lower in calories than leeks, with about 25 calories per serving (leeks tend to run around 34 calories).
Scallions are also higher in vitamin K and iron than leeks (which contain about 7% of the recommended daily value for iron; scallions contain about 12%). They both provide about 2 grams of fiber per serving.
So if you want to get more nutrients and fewer calories from your alliums, go with the scallion!
What Is A Substitute For Scallions?
While scallions are delicious, they’re not always readily available, so there are substitutes.
Below is a list of some of the best scallion substitutes:
- White onions
- Spring onions
Can I Use Onions Instead Of Leeks In Soup?
Onions are less sweet than leeks, but they still give off a savory aroma that can enhance the other flavors in your soup. They have a more intense flavor, so you won’t need to use as much onion as you would for leek.
It would help if you sautéed both onions and leeks before adding them to soup, so they are cooked through before serving. Leeks have less water content than onions and can burn easily when cooked, so they need more time on the stove.
Onions tend to brown faster than leeks (unless you use red onions), so keep an eye on them while cooking.
As for which is better for you, I can’t say. I know that leeks are typically more popular and have more uses in the culinary arts, so they’re probably a better investment.
But then again, scallions are cheaper, and they can be used exactly like leeks in most dishes. Even professional chefs at five-star restaurants often use scallions instead of leeks
However, you can use this Leek Vs. Scallion comparison guide to help decide which one is best for your needs.