How long can I keep fresh green onions in the refrigerator?

Green onions, also known as scallions or spring onions, are a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world. Their mild onion flavor adds depth to dishes without overpowering other ingredients. When stored properly, green onions can last for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Quick Summary

  • Unwashed green onions will last 5-7 days at room temperature.
  • Washed and dried green onions will last 7-10 days in the fridge.
  • Green onions stored in water can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
  • Wrapped green onion bundles or chopped green onions can last up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

The key factors that determine green onion shelf life are storage method, temperature, and preparation. Proper refrigeration and preparation help slow down spoilage and extend freshness. Read on for more details and tips on maximizing green onion storage life.

How to Tell if Green Onions Have Gone Bad

Watch for these signs that indicate green onions are past their prime and should be discarded:

  • Wilting or mushy texture
  • Yellow or brown discoloration
  • Slimy texture or appearance
  • Strong onion odor
  • Visible mold growth

If kept too long, green onions will deteriorate in quality and flavor. Wilting and discoloration occur first as the vegetable dries out. A foul, strong onion smell and slimy texture are signs that dangerous bacteria may be present.

Storing Green Onions at Room Temperature

Freshly harvested green onions will keep for 5-7 days at room temperature if left unwashed. The dirt coating the onions helps protect them from drying out. Store them loose or bundled in a jar or cup of water, cutting off what you need as you use them. Change the water every 2 days to prevent bacterial growth.

Washed green onions will deteriorate faster since their protective layer is removed. Keep them in the refrigerator for best quality.

Refrigerating Green Onions

For maximum shelf life, store green onions in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Keep them separate from ethylene-producing fruits like apples, which can cause premature spoilage. An ideal storage temperature is 32-34°F.

Here are some tips for keeping green onions fresh longer in the fridge:

  • Dry thoroughly after washing. Excess moisture encourages spoilage.
  • Wrap bundles in paper towels to absorb condensation and prevent sliminess.
  • Keep green tops intact until you are ready to use them.Trimmed tops deteriorate faster.
  • Place in a container of water. 1-2 inches of water prolongs crispness.
  • Chop and freeze if you won’t use them up quickly. Frozen chopped onions last about 3 months.

Whole Green Onions

Whole, intact green onions will stay fresh in the fridge for 7-10 days. Wash dirt off the onions, dry thoroughly, and place in a perforated plastic produce bag. Make sure air can circulate around the onions. Check frequently and remove any that show signs of spoilage.

Trimmed Green Onion Tops

Once trimmed by cutting off the long green stalks, green onion tops have a shorter shelf life of 3-5 days. Prepare only what you will use right away and refrigerate the trimmed tops in an airtight container lined with paper towels.

Chopped Green Onions

Chopped or sliced green onions have more surface area exposed to air, so they deteriorate faster than intact onions. Store chopped onions in an airtight container and use within 3-5 days. For longer storage, spread chopped onions in a single layer on a plate and freeze, then transfer to a freezer bag. Frozen they will last about 3 months.

Green Onions in Water

You can extend the life of green onions by an additional week by storing them in water. Trim the root ends and place the onions roots-down in a tall container filled with 1-2 inches of water. Cover the container loosely with plastic wrap. The water prevents drying out while still allowing air circulation. Change the water every 2-3 days. With this method, green onions can last up to 2 weeks refrigerated.

Freezing Green Onions

Freezing is a great way to preserve a surplus harvest of green onions or keep prepped onions on hand. Here are some freezing tips:

  • Rinse and dry onions thoroughly.
  • Trim root ends and any bruised portions.
  • Chop onions into desired sizes.
  • Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze solid.
  • Transfer to freezer bags or airtight containers.
  • Label with contents and date.
  • Frozen green onions last about 3 months.

To use frozen green onions, simply remove desired amount and add while still frozen to dishes like soups, stir fries, and casseroles. The frozen pieces will thaw and soften during cooking. Frozen chopped green onions lose some crispness when thawed but retain their flavor.

Pickling Green Onions

Pickling preserves green onions in vinegar and extends shelf life for up to 3 months refrigerated. Thoroughly wash trimmed green onions and chop into pieces. Pack into sterilized jars. Cover with a hot vinegar solution (1 cup vinegar to 1 cup water, seasoned with salt and sugar). Leave 1/2 inch headspace. Seal the jars and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes. Once cooled and sealed, the pickled onions are shelf-stable for a year but best quality if kept refrigerated.

Drying Green Onions

Dehydrating green onions at a temperature between 95-115°F results in crispy dried onions that add flavor when rehydrated. Rinse and dry whole green onions thoroughly. Slice very thin or chop into small pieces. Arrange in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Dry for 6-10 hours until completely dried and brittle. Store dried onions in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

To rehydrate, soak dried green onions in warm water for 15-20 minutes until plump. Use rehydrated onions in soups, curries, and sauces. You can also crush dried onions into powder to use as seasoning.

Storing Green Onion Seeds

If allowed to fully mature and go to seed, green onion seed pods can be collected and saved for future planting. Here are some tips for properly storing green onion seeds:

  • Allow seed pods to dry completely on the green onion stalks.
  • Collect dried pods and separate out the small black seeds.
  • Discard any seeds that appear shriveled or discolored.
  • Place seeds in a paper envelope or sealed glass jar.
  • Store in a cool, dry location away from direct sunlight.
  • For best germination rates, use seeds within 1-2 years.

Stored properly in a low humidity environment, green onion seeds remain viable for 1-2 years before germination rates begin to decline. Older seeds may still sprout but have reduced vigor.

How to Extend Shelf Life

Follow these tips to get the most mileage out of your fresh green onions and reduce waste:

  • Store properly – Refrigerate in breathable packaging.
  • Prep what you need – Don’t trim or chop more than you will use promptly.
  • Keep dry – Pat dry thoroughly after washing to prevent sliming.
  • Use older ones first – Rotate onions already in fridge to front.
  • Freeze extras – Freeze chopped onions in portions to pull from.
  • Pickle – Vinegar pickling preserves green onions.

With optimal storage conditions and careful handling, fresh green onions can last up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. Follow these guidelines for maximizing refrigerator shelf life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you freeze whole green onions?

Freezing whole green onions is not recommended. The long green stalks become soft and mushy when thawed. It’s best to chop onions before freezing to preserve texture and flavor.

How long do green onions last unrefrigerated?

At room temperature, unwashed green onions will last 5-7 days. Refrigeration extends the shelf life significantly. For best quality, either refrigerate green onions or use within a week of purchasing.

Do green onions need to be kept in the crisper drawer?

Yes, keeping green onions in the refrigerator crisper drawer helps maximize freshness. The low humidity environment in the crisper prevents moisture loss. Make sure air can circulate by storing in a perforated bag.

Can you freeze pickled green onions?

Pickled green onions can be frozen for long term storage since the vinegar acts as a preservative. Freeze the onions in the pickling liquid in airtight containers for up to 8 months.

What’s the white part of green onions called?

The white cylindrical bulb of the green onion is called the scallion. The green stalks are called the green tops or chives. Both parts can be eaten and add great flavor.


With proper refrigeration methods and careful use of preparation techniques like chopping and freezing, fresh green onions can stay fresh and flavorful for up to 3 weeks. Store whole green onions loose in the crisper drawer, chop only what you plan to eat right away, and utilize freezing and pickling to preserve extras. Follow these guidelines to reduce waste and enjoy green onions’ flavor and crunch for as long as possible after purchasing.

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