Are sprouts the same thing as microgreens? Many people refer to them as the same. Both are tiny, highly nutritious plants that can be grown at home, but they have some key differences.

In this article, I will take a closer look at microgreens and sprouts and outline the similarities and differences. I will also compare the pros and cons of growing each.

Sprouts vs. microgreens

No, they are not. There are significant differences in the nutritional content, the growing process, and the risks involved with growing microgreens and sprouts.

Similarities between microgreens and sprouts

  • Microgreens and sprouts are both baby plants harvested and eaten in the early stages of their growth.
  • They’re both nutritionally dense.
  • They’re both pretty expensive to buy in stores since they are difficult to transport and keep fresh.
  • Microgreens and sprouts are easy to grow indoors and don’t need much space.

Culinary uses & nutritional value

Sprouts are germinated seeds in the first stage of life, while microgreens are young seedlings that have been allowed to grow for a few days and have developed their first set of true leaves. As a result, microgreens tend to be more flavorful than sprouts. There is also a larger variety of microgreens to grow than sprouts – over 80 types!

Since microgreens have a wider range of flavors than sprouts, they’re more versatile in terms of culinary uses. Microgreens are great on top of salads, sandwiches, soups, and other dishes. Sprouts, however, are generally cooked before eating due to the increased risk of mold during their growth period. Add them to stir fry.

With sprouts, you eat the entire plant – seed, root, and all. You’re cutting the plant above the soil or soilless medium level with microgreens, so you’re eating the stem and the baby leaves.

Regarding nutrition, sprouts and microgreens are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, microgreens are higher in fiber content and vitamins C and E than sprouts.
So whether you’re looking for a nutritional boost or some extra flavor, sprouts and microgreens are both excellent choices. Still, microgreens pack an extra nutritional punch and a more robust flavor profile.

The growth period

Microgreens have a slightly longer growth period than sprouts – about 7-14 days compared to 3-5 days for sprouts.

Microgreens are allowed to grow for a few days and develop a set of true leaves before being harvested, while sprouts are harvested as soon as they’ve germinated and only have their seed leaves.

This difference in growth periods means that microgreens require a bit more care than sprouts, but not much. However, microgreens also have a longer shelf life than sprouts once harvested.

Growing media of sprouts vs. microgreens

Sprouts and microgreens are grown differently. The growing medium for microgreens is typically soil or a soilless growing mixture or mat, while the growing medium for sprouts is water.

Microgreens require a blackout period during the germination period and bright light after germination, while sprouts don’t need light to grow.

How to harvest microgreens and sprouts

Microgreens are typically grown in trays and then cut when they reach a height of 2-3 inches, generally within 5-10 days, depending on the type. When harvesting microgreens, it is essential to use sharp, clean scissors or a knife to avoid damaging the delicate greens.

Sprouts, on the other hand, are grown in water and can be harvested as soon as they germinate, within 3-5 days. Simply remove them from the water with your hands or a strainer.

How to store your greens after harvesting

Microgreens can be stored in a container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, while sprouts only last for a few days.

To store microgreens effectively, keep them at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure they’re not too wet. If you find that your microgreens are getting slimy, remove any affected greens and increase the airflow to the container.

You can boost their shelf life by limiting their exposure to light and placing them on top of a damp paper towel, then adding another damp paper towel over the top.

Sprouts should be fully dry before storing them in an airtight container. If you notice any mold, discard the sprouts and give the container a good cleaning.

Risks of growing microgreens compared to sprouts

Since sprouts are usually grown in locations that aren’t well lit and have less ventilation (e.g., a mason jar on a kitchen counter), this creates the perfect environment for bacteria and mold to grow.

The intense humidity involved in growing sprouts in a low-light environment raises the chance of your sprouts developing mold, which can lead to foodborne illness. You should be wary of eating raw sprouts unless you know they haven’t developed mold.

The environment for microgreens is moist but not soggy, well ventilated, and exposed to excellent light, so there are fewer health concerns. In addition, microgreens can be grown without soil using a jute growing mat, reducing the likelihood that your greens will grow mold.

Growing mats also improve drainage and make the growing process quicker and easier. Microgreens are delicious in many dishes when eaten raw and are commonly consumed that way.

Varieties to grow at home

There are far more varieties of seeds available when growing microgreens compared to sprouts. Here are some of the most popular microgreens. As you can see, you have many options, and these are just a small sample of the types of microgreens you can grow.

  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Salad mix
  • Spicy salad mix
  • Sunflower
  • Nasturtium
  • Pea
  • Broccoli
  • Arugula
  • Amaranth
  • Cabbage
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Sorrel
  • Komatsuna
  • Mizuna
  • Spinach

There are fewer sprouts to cultivate. Alfalfa sprouts, pea shoots, lentil sprouts, and even mung bean sprouts are some of the best options.

Get Growing

If you’re looking for an easy and nutritious way to boost the nutrition of your meals, microgreens and sprouts are a great health food staple.

Microgreens are more nutritionally dense and have a more robust flavor profile than sprouts, but both are good sources of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Additionally, you have more choices regarding microgreen seeds that range in flavors from spicy to nutty to sweet.

If you are ready to grow delicious and nutritious microgreens today, try The Good Box, a stylish and practical countertop grow system that provides everything you need to grow and harvest mounds of tasty greens. It is easy to use and makes a fabulous gift too!!

Happy Growing,

Hi There! Susan Here.

(aka the Earthen Mamma)

As a Certified Health Coach, Master Gardener, and Author, my goal is to equip and inspire you to live the healthy and sustainable life you deserve.

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