Appalachia Appalachian Food

How do You Eat Green Onions?

Best way to eat green onions

This time of the year is the best for eating green onions. I swear a green onion straight from the garden makes anything taste better.

Green onions and salt


My favorite way to eat them is to shake out an ample supply of salt and dip every bite of onion into the salt.

Another favorite way to use green onions this time of the year is to fix kill lettuce-a traditional Appalachian recipe.

Pap once shared the story below with me, one of his friends told it to him years ago.

A new preacher was elected to the local church. Once the preacher began the usual tradition of going home with members for Sunday dinner it became apparent this particular preacher had an insatiable appetite-to the point that folks began to dread having to play host to him. Members of the church knew their turn to have the preacher home for Sunday dinner would come sooner or later.

One man decided he knew exactly how to handle the situation when he and his wife were called upon to feed the preacher. As everyone sat down to the dinner table, the father said “Well preacher we don’t have much but we’re more than willing to share what we do have. We’re going to have some onions and salt for dinner.” The preacher said “Oh I don’t eat onions.” The father said “Well help yourself to the salt.”



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  • Reply
    Gaye Blaine
    February 24, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Ramls grow wild—Not in your garden. Tasty as all get out. Don’t worry about the smell as you know you have enjoyed a once-a-year delicacy. Spring time only. Old field lettuce plus green spring onions plus bacon fat to wilt = a dish fit for anyone along with pintos and a fresh pone of corn bread. Set yourself up with a glass of buttermilk and go to town eating!! Now you know you have been blessed!!!

  • Reply
    Paulette Tonielli
    February 28, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    When I was a kid, we made “tip” in the spring and early summer. It used whole milk (as we kept a Jersey milk cow, this was closer to half-and-half) that was soured by the addition of a little vinegar. Then we added sliced green onions – enough to make the mixture very thick. We ate tip over new leaf lettuce or (my favorite) over smashed new potatoes, with a healthy amount of salt and pepper. I hadn’t thought of that in years – thanks for prompting my memories, Tipper!

  • Reply
    sheila brown
    May 18, 2016 at 9:08 am

    First of all, thanks for bringing back old memories. My Daddy wanted green onions every evening with his supper. (when in season) The way he ate the onions was to pour the salt on the table next to his plate to dab them in. That way he didn’t get all that salt mixed in his other food. I remember little things like that as if it were yesterday. Thank you for this blog, I love, love, love it. For that matter, I tell everyone I can about it. Keep up the good work.
    sheila brown

  • Reply
    May 17, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    Jeanne-thank you for the comment! A few other commenters have answered your questions, but I wanted to point you to these posts as well: and
    Have a great day!

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    May 17, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    With cornbread & buttermilk 🙂

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 16, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Grabbling potatoes is when you dig under the plant with your hands and take a few new potatoes without disturbing the hill. Thems the best potatoes you ever had!
    I didn’t get to put out any onions (or anything else) this year but they are always the best about this time of the year. The white part is usually sweet. The green part has a bit more of a bite. If you are having a problem with them, cut the white part off where the greens all come together. That’s where sting is! Where the new growth begins.
    Thank You!

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    May 16, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    What a funny story!
    My favorite way to eat them as a youngster was chopped up and fried in butter with scrambled eggs. Along the way, somehow, I’ve developed a severe allergy to all onions that results in symptoms like I’ve been poisoned, so sadly, I have to eat them very sparingly nowadays.
    Our paternal Grandfather loved taking a slice of bread, smearing it with butter, tucking a whole green onion or two on the bread, adding salt, and folding it over like a taco. I remember him eating those often whenever he was at our house.
    Hope everyone’s having a great week. Be safe now.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    May 16, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    I’m familiar with eating salt and onions, wilted or “killed” lettuce. I didn’t ever like the wild ramps (to us in Choestoe, ramps grew out in the woods–wild). A favorite spring “outing” was going on a “ramp” tramp to find the wild onions, or ramps. And if you ate them, you could be sure everyone knew you were around, because the odor lingered on and on in the breath, even if you brushed your teeth with “store bought” toothpaste, or with soda and a chewed blackberry twig toothbrush! And to “grapple” potatoes means to take a fork or other instrument and “dig” into the Irish potato hill when it’s about time for some little potatoes to be grown enough to remove and cook. But we had to be sure to put the dirt back around the hills of potatoes where we “grappled” them, so the rest of the potatoes would grow and mature for the real harvesting of potatoes later in the season.
    Oh, and by the way! It was not my “preacher husband’ who refused to eat the onions and salt at the church member’s house when it was time to “feed the preacher.” We knew about that “going the rounds” to members’ houses to be fed Sunday dinner–and loved it–and always ate, gratefully, whatever was set before us! Those were the days! We loved this “round robin” kind of entertainment of the preacher and his family!

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    May 16, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Jeanne,ramps I believe are really wild leeks.They have wide green blades and bulbs similar to green onions.They only last a few weeks in the spring.The me,is like a cross of garlic and green onions.They grow in parts of Wisconsin and somebody there will know what they are and where to get them.They grow best on the north side of the hill.In my part of KY. they aren’t plentiful.I only know of 2 big patches and a woman I barely know,knows where a big patch is.She won’t tell me and I don’t tell her where I gather. Wanda,your mama is right,and wilted lettuce and ramps makes me even sleepier.I’ve asked other people about this and some say it makes them sleepy too. Tipper,I really appreciate your site. Civility rules. LG

  • Reply
    May 16, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    Green onions, a bowl of pinto beans with ham, and corn bead, that’s country goodness..

  • Reply
    Kathy Poteet Dubree
    May 16, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    My mother would fix a big bowl or plate of green onions,radishes,cucumbers anf sliced tomatoes. Everyone would help themselves like a salad. We also had kilt salad with green onions and cornbread. My parents also grew up in Murphy, NC. My grandparents had a farm on the GA , NC line

  • Reply
    May 16, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Today’s responses to your entry are wonderful examples of how your blog is such a great education!
    By the way, I like my radishes as well as my green onions dipped lightly in salt.

  • Reply
    Carol Rosenbalm
    May 16, 2016 at 11:51 am

    One of the favorites in East Tennessee. Having to teach people who have moved here from places never heard of killed lettuce and onions. There is a ramp festival up in cocke county every year. But the smell of a ramp would still be in my home! Pungent is not a word that begin to describe them. My family used to live near a creek and mom & I would pick water cress. She cooked it similar to killed lettuce & onions. Good memories!!
    It’s amazing what our families relied on to eat in the past & still in the present. Our folks were survivors and used what they had! Trusted in one source for survival God!
    Maybe we need to return to that era!
    Carol R.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    May 16, 2016 at 11:43 am

    My daddy (from Louisiana) and mama (from Oklahoma) used to put a little pile of salt right on the tablecloth beside his plate and dip the onions in that, bite by bite. I have never seen anyone else do that, but perhaps they do it when they don’t have company?

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 16, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Lettuce & onions with hot bacon grease & hot cornbread with lots of butter on it. It’s hard to stop eating it! I love onions with dried beans or stewed or baked potatoes and with left over corn bread and tomatoes for a snack at night. No salad is complete for me without some onions. Pizza, too. We have a cousin who makes the baked vidalias–I think she puts butter and a little worstershire and salt and pepper on them. they are delicious.
    Anita, Mama always said eating lettuce would make you sleepy, too.
    I know a few people (my husband is one) who hate onions under any circumstances. I don’t know how people can cook without onions.

  • Reply
    May 16, 2016 at 10:58 am

    My Grandma was the Appalacian girl in my ancestry and she had a huge garden, with every variety of vegetable. However, I never heard her mention “ramps”. What are they? Also, we love wilted salad here in Wisconsin, but I need an education on “grappled” potatoes. How does one grapple? Happy green onions….love them….anyway!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I love green onions with salt, mixed in salads and on cottage cheese. Pap’s story is hilarious, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    May 16, 2016 at 9:45 am

    I dearly love green onions, especially with a chunk of cold cornbread. Alas, they no longer love me. Any time I eat a raw onion I “enjoy” it for three days. Oh for those long gone younger days when my stomach was iron clad and I thought my body bullet proof.

  • Reply
    jim keller
    May 16, 2016 at 9:38 am

    I can remember as a boy the preacher making his rounds on Sunday eating dinner with the church members. Seems we always had to have fried chicken.
    Just had my first meal of Ramps and fried taters yesterday, this year, seems the ramps were late this year.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    May 16, 2016 at 9:31 am

    My wife likes green onions with corn bread and buttermilk and I like them with sweet milk.We also like wilted lettuce and green onions.We like that best with bacon grease,but have used cooking oil.We only eat the kilt lettuce and green onions of the evening.It makes you very sleepy.For those not familiar with milk and bread,you crumble your corn bread in the milk.Pour out a small amount of salt in a saucer and eat the onions dipped in the salt along with the milk and bread.E.KY. LG

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 16, 2016 at 9:11 am

    Tip, I like onions and the spring green onions are the best. I like them with salt, with wilted lettuce, in salads. I like the whole onion, I mean I like the green part too, both cooked and raw.
    I love Pap’s story about the hungry preacher! I bet he took them off the list for Sunday dinners!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 16, 2016 at 9:08 am

    That was a good one about the preacher not liking fresh onions. Our pastor and his wife use to come home alot with us when I was growning up. Right after Church me and Harold use to have to wring a couple pullets necks and clean ’em for dinner. What bothered us the most was him and his wife would always get the favorite parts…the pulleybones.
    I love to take a salt-shaker to the garden to enjoy those fresh onions and radishes. I got tired of going back and forth to the creek, so I learned to take a towel to clean everything.
    One time my dozer-operator stopped by for a chat. I took him over to show him my garden and he saw that row of radishes
    looking just right. He asked if they were hot and ate 3 or 4. On
    the way back to the shop, I noticed little sweat ball all over his forehead…Ken

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    May 16, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Kilt Lettuce & Onions with Corn Bread crumbled into sweet milk is one of my favorite food groups. Branch (Bear) Lettuce is fantastic as well as Leaf Lettuce. To make either extra special substitute Ramps for or in with conjunction with the Green Onions.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 16, 2016 at 8:20 am

    Never tried onions and salt, never heard of it before even. That is one of the very few things you’ve ever mentioned I could say that about. I just eat them plain as a side with green beans or pinto beans or in salads. And we use them in recipes.
    I am growing Georgia Sweet onions and they are turning into whoppers. I have some now as big as hen eggs. They are mild but I’ve noticed that if they are held over until the next spring they get strong.

  • Reply
    Lonnie Baker
    May 16, 2016 at 8:15 am

    I love them grilled or roasted in the oven.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    May 16, 2016 at 8:10 am

    That is a good one. I am not fond of just eating onions, but love to cook with them.

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    May 16, 2016 at 8:09 am

    We always called it wilted lettuce, but my husband’s family calls it killed lettuce. We would pick a big mess of leaf lettuce and some green onions. Then fry up some bacon and then add vinegar to the bacon grease. When good and hot, we would pour it over the lettuce and onion. Then crumble the bacon on top.
    Oh wow . . . . now I really want some!

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    May 16, 2016 at 7:45 am

    Mmm-mmm! My dad and I would dip our green onions in salt and eat with a slice of white bread, but my absolute favorite is the wilted leaf lettuce. Wash curly leaf lettuce and onions sliced in big chunks. Fry bacon, remove from pan and crumble. Remove pan from heat, pour vinegar into hot grease this will pop so be careful! Pour over salad, top with crumbled bacon, toss all together. Eat every bite because it is not a salad you can put in the fridge for later. Of course you won’t want to because it is SO GOOD!!!!!! Now I am craving some!

  • Reply
    May 16, 2016 at 7:32 am

    HA! 🙂

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    May 16, 2016 at 7:19 am

    We eat them about all summer with salt at every meal! All lunch sandwiches are accompanied with two or three onions and salt. I like to have “kilt lettuce” at least one or two times while the leaf lettuce is coming in during the spring for supper. However, It has to have good hot bacon drippings poured over he sliced onions and lettuce, wilted (kilt) quick and served immediately with salt n’ pepper!
    Fresh onions, snap green peas and “grappled new taters” done just right “will make you slap yore mama”! Yummmm!
    We don’t grow Vidalia’s here, but we’re working on a 5 lb. bag right now. Sliced (like a bloom) stuff with diet or real butter, cram some brown sugar in twix and b’tween, microwave or bake in the oven, this can be supper with some zucchini casserole! Mercy on my soul! So good!
    I’m out of here, I’m get’n hungry!
    Thanks Tipper

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