What Are Chives Good For?

Three Cheers for Chives
Botanical name: Allium schoenoprasum

Chives Nutrition Facts

Chives are a fragrant, evergreen herb with a predominantly onion-like flavor and a hint of garlic.1 This graceful addition to your garden originated in Asia and Europe, and is now common in herb gardens throughout the world.2

While some have trouble telling the difference between chives (related to the lily family), scallions and green onions, a few characteristics help chives stand apart. As a member of the allium family alongside onions, chives are more slender than scallions.3 Known for their aesthetic and culinary applications,4 chives are hardy and draught-tolerant, growing in tight bunches.5 In mid-summer, they form beautiful lavender blossoms.6

Chives are an attractive garnish for green salads,7 taste great when sprinkled on baked fish8 and add dimension to creamy potato soup.9 It is also one of the main ingredients of "fines herbes," a combination of chervil, parsley, chives and tarragon used in French cuisine.10 If needing a substitute for this herb, leeks or scallions can work.11 To make the most out of your chives when cooking, it's best to add them at the last moment to prevent them from becoming soggy.12

Chives are easy to grow.13 They thrive in full sun and rich, well-draining soil, although they'll tolerate partial sun. Once fully mature, you can harvest them by snipping a small handful at the base of the stem, an inch above the ground when the plant is around 6 inches tall.14 Since chives are a perennial, you'll get plenty of mileage from them. Fully mature plants can be harvested regularly when grown properly.15

Once your chives have grown, give a handful to a friend! This is a great way to share this lovely, versatile garden herb.

Health Benefits of Chives

A tablespoon of chopped chives gives you 6.38 micrograms of vitamin K.16 Known primarily for forming and strengthening bones17 and protecting the brain,18 vitamin K may help lower the risk of Alzheimer's.19 Chives are an excellent source of potassium C — 8.88 milligrams per tablespoon — along with beta-carotenes, which are flavonoid antioxidants that may help protect your health by eliminating free radicals, boosting insulin sensitivity and managing Type 2 diabetes.20,21

Chives have dietary fiber, which helps reduce constipation22 and clean the colon, helping reduce your colon cancer risk.23 They also contain folate, which is essential for DNA synthesis and helping reduce the risk of developing neural tube defects in the newborns.24 Additionally, chives contain calcium, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese and also provide thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, riboflavin and zinc.25 Other advantages of eating chives include anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.26

Like other allium members, chives contain antioxidants that kill free radicals.27 Thiosulfinites like allyl propyl disulfide and diallyl disulfide (known to inhibit breast cancer cells28) contain enzymes that convert to allicin when its leaves are cut or crushed. A study showed allicin in allium vegetables also have a beneficial effect on cancer.29

For more information about chives, you may refer to the table below.30

Chives Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 tablespoon (3 grams), raw
  Amt. Per
% Daily
Calories 0.9  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 1 g  
Saturated Fat 0 g  
Trans Fat    
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium .09 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 0.13 g  
Dietary Fiber 0.075 g  
Sugar 0.055 g  
Protein 0.098 g  
Vitamin A 131 IU Vitamin C 1.74 mg
Calcium 2.76 mg Iron 0.048 mg

Studies Done on Chives

One study noted that natural plant ingredients may be useful antimicrobial agents against foodborne pathogens. The effect of chives on the survival and growth of salmonella in different food systems were examined, using chicken soup, beef broth and sesame salad dressing divided into two portions. One was treated with chive extract, the second used as a control; both portions were inoculated with a mixture of 38 strains of salmonella.

The tests were conducted three times and the salmonella population was found to be below the detectable level in the chicken soup and beef broth. Scientists concluded that chives could inhibit salmonella in different food systems.31

In another study, scientists researched the relation between the consumption of allium vegetables such as Chinese chives, garlic, Welsh onion and raw vegetables, and risks of esophageal and stomach cancer. Results of the study showed that allium vegetables do indeed have an important inhibiting effect on these two types of cancer.32

Chives Healthy Recipes:
Green Dip Recipe

Chives Healthy Recipes


1/3 cup parsley leaves

1/3 cup fresh dill fronds

1/3 cup chives

Juice of half a lemon

1 clove garlic (smashed)

2 tablespoons homemade mayonnaise

1/2 cup organic Greek yogurt

1/2 cup organic sour cream

1/3 cup organic goat cheese

Salt and black pepper to taste



Homemade Mayonnaise Procedure:

  1. Combine 2 pastured egg yolks, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, a couple of pinches of sea salt and 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil in a blender.
  2. When adding oil, be sure to add a couple tablespoons at a time and blend until thickened. Do not pour the entire cup at once.

Green Dip Procedure:

  1. Rinse the herbs and dry them in a salad spinner. Place in a food processor and pulse until minced.
  2. Add lemon juice, garlic, mayonnaise, yogurt, sour cream and goat cheese to processor and pulse until blended well, scraping down the sides of the processor bowl as you go.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve in cups with dip on bottom and veggies on top.

(Recipe from Doug Kauffman of Know the Cause33)

Chives Fun Facts

Romanian gypsies are said to have used chives in their fortune-telling rites, and hung garlands of chives around their homes to ward off disease and evil spirits.34


Chives are much more than just a tasty garnish, and are considered both a healing herb and an allium related to onions and garlic. In terms of flavor, these tall, graceful garden additions can be compared to a mild cross between garlic and onion (although chives are Lilliputian next to leeks).

Containing vitamins A, C and K and known for having antioxidant power to take the bite out of free radicals, chives contain flavonoid antioxidants like carotenes and many other healthful phytonutrients. Earlier mentioned studies have shown chives to possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, even inhibiting salmonella in certain foods, and they may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Try snipping a small handful of chopped chives in your next quiche for a hint of pleasantly subtle flavor.