Friday, August 05, 2016

The Perfect Garlic Substitute: Garlic Chives

Garlic Chives are a handy little plant to have around - they also have a posher sounding name of Society Garlic. Whatever name you know them by, they’re delicious snipped up through a bean salad, added to scrambled eggs or sprinkled over steamed potatoes with butter.
They’re especially useful to have around at this time of the year when the Australian garlic suddenly becomes hard to get hold of in the shop.
Unless you grow your own garlic, you’re facing the conundrum of buying the less flavoursome, bottled minced Aussie garlic; compromising your beliefs in food health when you purchase the imported kind or going without.

Enter garlic chives – this little green plant is potently garlicky.

In previous years I've used it raw or in the ways described above, never thinking to use it as an actual garlic substitute until last year when the fresh Australian garlic disappeared from the supermarket, and the bottled variety seemed to disappear too. That's when I discovered that garlic chives are also wonderful in all manner of meals - even spaghetti bolognese!
To use it as a garlic substitute, simply pick a handful from the plant and use the scissors to snip them directly into the meal you are cooking. In the case of dishes such as bolognese where the garlic is usually added at the beginning, add the garlic chives towards the end.

And as a bonus, like most green leafy foods, garlic chives are also very nutritious. Rich in vitamin A and K, along with the B-complex group and also vitamin C; they also contain minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, manganese and calcium.


Garlic chives are part of the Allium family, being closely related to plain chives and onion chives, and also related to garlic and onions.
It's a tough perennial plant. I've grown it in a variety of soil conditions (including potted), in part shade to full sun and with varying amounts of water and love given.

The produce pretty purple flowers, depending on your climate as to the time of year. The flowers are also edible, and are very pungent. I enjoy them in salads, both for their flavour but also the prettiness factor. Bees also love the flowers- they seem to be a particular favourite with our native stingless bees.

Obviously, if you feed and mulch your garlic chives they'll be happier, but this isn't a complicated plant to grow and won't mind if you aren't a natural 'green thumb'.

Sourcing (or transplanting)

Most nurseries stock garlic chives, or if you have a gardening friend you could ask them for some. Garlic chives grow in clumps, which are easily separated into singular bulbs. This also means that it's easy to multiply your own plants! (As I've done in the above photograph, hence the clump being a little thinner than usual)

To transplant, give the chives a good prune and then use a garden fork or spoon to dig the clump up. Then simply separate the bulbs with your fingers - the bulbs are only small, about the size of spring onions. Transport home wrapped in damp newspaper and replant as soon as possible. The chives will appreciate a drink of seaweed solution after their trauma of being moved, too.

Tip: If you're having trouble separating the bulbs, fill a container with water and swish the roots around in it. The soil will loosen from the bulbs, and make untangling much easier.

So, are you going to give growing garlic chives a go?
Perhaps you already have some?
Do you have any recommended uses for them?

Happy growing!
Sarah x

Subscribe via email and never miss a post again


  1. Society garlic is most definitely a very hardy and useful plant. I love it. I grow it as an edging plant here and in drifts bordering the edge of the wooden steps that lead to my little front gate. It's very easy to divide and a lovely gift for a gardener to share. I snip it generously, mix with butter and slather on long lengths of baguette for a homemade garlic bread. Mmmm!

    1. Oh I imagine it would be delicious on a butter baguette! It does make a lovely edging plant too x

  2. I recently planted some garlic chives in my upcycled herb garden, they are great aren't they!

    Kez |

  3. I have a clump of garlic chives in a very neglected pot and they still grow well. I use them mainly in salads but should probably be more adventurous. After reading this, I shall probably pull them out of the pot this autumn and plant them somewhere more suitable.

    1. They are delicious in salads, I especially love them in scrambled eggs x

  4. Great idea! And it grows like mad in my garden, I can't use it all! Much easier than garlic,I've had no luck so far.

    1. It does grow well, doesn't it. The chickens love it too! x

  5. I love this! I've had real trouble growing garlic in our garden so I might try this instead - sounds like the perfect substitute!

    Kate xx

    1. Thank-you Kate. I hope you have success with the garlic chives! x

  6. Clever little plants aren't they Sarah? I would grow them just for their pretty, dried seed heads. They smell delicious if you happen to rub against them in the garden too. Love your new header x

    1. I'm afraid the flowers have never made it to dried here - I've always picked them ;-) I'll have to let some dry out next time to see what they look like.

      And thank-you, my whole blog had a little face lift yesterday x


Hello! Please don't be shy - leave a comment, answer a question or tell your own story! I love the conversation and community - it's what blogging is all about x

You don't need an account to comment, simply use the Anonymous option or Name/URL

© Say Little Hen
Maira Gall