Should I keep green onions in water or in the fridge?

Green onions, also known as scallions or spring onions, are a popular ingredient in many cuisines around the world. Their mild onion flavor adds a nice accent to salads, soups, tacos, stir-fries and more. When storing green onions, most people have two options – keep them in water or store them in the refrigerator.

Both methods have their pros and cons, and it often comes down to personal preference. However, there are some factors to consider when deciding the best way to store green onions to maintain freshness and flavor.

Storing Green Onions in Water

Keeping green onions in water is a common way to store them. The theory behind this method is that since green onions are mostly water, storing them in water will keep them hydrated and crisp. Some benefits of storing green onions in water include:

  • Hydrates the green onions – The bulbs and stems stay moist when sitting in water.
  • Extends shelf life – Water storage can keep green onions fresh for up to 2 weeks.
  • Easy access – Green onions are ready to use when kept in water, no need to dry off fridge moisture.
  • Maintains crunch – The water crispness factor helps scallions retain their signature crunch.
  • Prevents drying out – Water prevents air exposure from making green onions limp.

To store green onions in water:

  1. Trim off any wilted parts of the green tops or roots.
  2. Put the trimmed green onions in a tall jar or glass.
  3. Fill the container with enough cool water to submerge the white bulbs.
  4. Leave out on the counter or place in the refrigerator.
  5. Change the water every 2-3 days to keep it fresh.

Tips for Storing Green Onions in Water

  • Use a tall, cylindrical glass or jar to prevent crushing.
  • Trim off any slimy roots before storing.
  • Refresh the water often to prevent bacteria growth.
  • Cutting the greens shorter helps them last longer.
  • Keep on the counter for 2-3 days max, then refrigerate.
  • Wrap the tops in a damp paper towel if refrigerator storing.

Storing Green Onions in the Fridge

The other popular option for storing green onions is placing them in the refrigerator. Some benefits of refrigerated storage include:

  • Extends shelf life – Fridge temps of 35-40°F can keep green onions fresh for 2-3 weeks.
  • Slows growth – The cold helps prevent sprouting or buds forming.
  • Retains moisture – The high humidity of the fridge prevents drying out.
  • Allows longer term storage – Fridge storage gives more leeway if you won’t use them quickly.
  • Food safety – The cold prevents bacterial growth that causes spoilage.

To store green onions in the refrigerator:

  1. Trim off any slimy or wilted parts.
  2. Place trimmed green onions in a plastic bag or produce drawer.
  3. Optional – Place a damp paper towel in the bag to boost humidity.
  4. Store in the high-humidity crisper drawer if possible.
  5. Use within 2-3 weeks for best quality.

Tips for Refrigerating Green Onions

  • Avoid storing near ethylene-producing fruits like apples.
  • Wrap the ends in plastic wrap if storing over 2 weeks.
  • Keep green onion scraps in a Ziploc bag for regrowing.
  • Place in the front rather than back of the fridge for better cold exposure.
  • Sort out any slimy or moldy bulbs immediately to prevent spread.

Comparing Water Storage vs. Refrigerated Storage

So which method of green onion storage is better – water or the fridge? Here is a comparison of some factors to consider:

Storage Factor Water Storage Refrigerated Storage
Shelf Life 1-2 weeks 2-3 weeks
Convenience Easy access Must remove from fridge
Flavor May dilute Retains full flavor
Texture Crisp Crispness fades over time
Food Safety Higher risk Less risk of bacteria

In terms of shelf life, refrigerated storage lasts a little longer. But some people find water storage more convenient since the green onions are ready to grab. Refrigeration also retains more original onion flavor versus potential dilution from water. However, water storage maintains that signature crunch better over time. And there are food safety advantages to refrigeration compared to room temperature water storage.

Combination Approach

A good compromise is to use a combination approach:

  • Store green onions in water on the counter for 1-3 days max.
  • Then transfer the glass to the refrigerator.
  • Change the water every 3-5 days.
  • This provides the convenience of water storage and safety of refrigeration.

How to Tell if Green Onions Have Gone Bad

Whether you store them in water or the fridge, it’s important to know how to tell when green onions have spoiled and should be discarded. Here are some signs your green onions have gone bad:

  • Slimy or mushy texture – Fresh green onions should be crisp.
  • Wilted green tops – The greens should stand upright and look fresh.
  • Yellow or browning bulbs – Good bulbs are white and firm.
  • Strong, unpleasant smell – Should have a fresh, mild onion aroma.
  • Mold growth – Fuzzy mold is a sign to throw them out.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to dispose of the green onions and get a fresh bunch.

Reviving Limp Green Onions

If your green onions start to get limp or lose their crunch, you may be able to revive them for a short time by:

  • Trimming the ends and bottoms.
  • Placing in a bowl of ice water for 1-2 hours.
  • Patting dry thoroughly and refrigerating.

However, revived green onions won’t last more than a few extra days. It’s best to use them soon in cooking.

How to Use Up Green Onions

Before green onions reach the slimy stage, put that leftover bunch to good use! Here are tips for using up green onions:

  • Omelets or scrambled eggs – Sautee them up for flavorful eggs.
  • Salads – Chop up raw for salads or slaws.
  • Sandwiches and wraps – Add crunch to sandwiches.
  • Soups and stews – Add late in cooking for a savory accent.
  • Green onion oil – Blanch and blend into olive oil.
  • Pesto – Use in place of basil in pesto recipes.

Don’t let old green onions go to waste – use them up in tasty ways!

Storing Green Onion Scraps for Regrowing

Don’t throw away those leftover bits and ends after using up your green onions! The roots and scraps can be regrown in water or soil to yield brand new green onions. Here’s how to regrow them:

Regrowing in Water

  1. Save the bottoms and root ends of green onions.
  2. Place the ends in a small glass of water on a sunny windowsill.
  3. Change the water every other day.
  4. In a few days, you’ll see new green shoots sprouting up.
  5. Once shoots reach 3-5 inches, transplant to soil.

Regrowing in Soil

  1. Save green onion root ends and scraps.
  2. Place in potting mix in a planter, buried halfway.
  3. Keep soil moist but not soaked.
  4. New green shoots and roots will emerge in 1-2 weeks.
  5. Harvest regrown onions once they reach desired size.

Regrowing from scraps lets you enjoy fresh green onions again and again!

Other Ways to Preserve Green Onions

In addition to proper storage methods, there are other preservation techniques that let you enjoy green onions beyond their fresh shelf life. Here are some ideas:


Chopped green onions can be frozen for later use. To freeze:

  1. Wash, dry and chop green onions.
  2. Spread in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  3. Place in freezer until solidly frozen.
  4. Transfer to freezer bags or containers.
  5. Frozen green onions will keep about 6-12 months.


Green onions can be pickled in vinegar brine for a tangy garnish. Refrigerator pickling only takes about 30 minutes too.


Using a food dehydrator or low oven, green onions can be dehydrated into crunchy chips. Store in an airtight container for months.

Onion Powder

Dehydrate chopped green onions until brittle, then grind into a powder. Use like onion flakes as seasoning.


Should you keep green onions in water or the refrigerator? There are good reasons for both storage methods. Keeping green onions in water is convenient and maintains that crisp texture. Meanwhile, refrigeration extends shelf life a bit longer while preventing bacterial growth. For the best of both worlds, starting green onions in water then transferring to the fridge combines the pros. Check for signs of spoilage like sliminess, wilting and mold. Revive limp green onions in ice water if needed. Use up aging green onions in recipes before they go bad. And regrow the scraps for fresh green onions again and again. With proper storage and handling, you can enjoy green onions’ flavor and crunch for many dishes.

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