Sprouting Onions: Any Health considerations?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 21, 2011 at 5:39 AM

After a while onions start to sprout. Is the green part OK to eat? The web is full of anecdotal yes's, but who knows?

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3 Answers


on May 21, 2011
at 01:20 PM

If you're talking about the ones in your fridge, yeah these are as safe to eat as the onions were, though they've probably been sitting around for a while, so have a higher chance of spoilage and will have some off flavors.

A bunch of onions pop up in my yard every spring, my kids like to pull them up and this year they had dozens. I am a little cautious about eating them in case they might have pesticides or lawn treatment chemicals on them (we don't treat our yard but our neighbors do), but I have eaten them and they're yummy, similar to store bought but with a stronger flavor. The green parts can be eaten too. This is great in stir-frys and chopped up as a garnish.



on May 21, 2011
at 08:51 AM

Many cultures eat them as a fresh herb. The sprouts from onions, and especially garlic, are quite delicious. I don't see why it could possibly be bad to eat them. After all, you eat green onions and chives, right?

Though, I will admit, the ones in your fridge, once they've sprouted, changes the flavor profile of the entire onion quite a bit.


on July 07, 2014
at 07:12 PM

I have never heard of any toxin for people being produced in sprouts of onions (I teach several toxic plant courses). Keep in mind that in quantity, onions can be toxic to most of our pets and stock animals (especially horses and cats). The plant most commonly associated with toxic shoots in the kitchen is potatoes. Since a potato is a tuber, it is basically stem tissue. As long as it is buried in the ground or kept in the dark under the sink, fine. But if it gets enough light to sprout, the resulting foliage and green stem material produce the toxic glycoalkaloids [solanine, chaconine, harnine, etc.] that the tomato family is famous for. These toxins are also produced in the eyes of the potato, but in very small quantities. For us humans, the onion group does not produce toxins (unless infected by certain creatures from kingdom fungi) or unless coated with them as part of a lawn-care regime. In the case of the untainted onion, the criterion for use is, 'does it taste OK?'.

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