Skip to main content
Free Shipping on orders over $150

What is the difference between Sprouts and Microgreens?

What is the difference between Sprouts and Microgreens?

When we would sell our Microgreens at Farmers Markets, we were asked this question A LOT. So, I thought it might be a good idea to address that question.

Microgreens are often confused with sprouts, but there is a distinct difference. Compared to sprouts, microgreens have more nutritional value and a higher concentration of antioxidants. However, they also take longer to grow and are more challenging to harvest. They provide an excellent source of vitamins A, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and E, as well as iron. Sprouts are an excellent source of protein and contain benefits similar to those found in microgreens. Here are some tips for identifying the differences when comparing microgreens vs. sprouts so you can become better educated.

  • They are both grown using the same seeds and the sprouting seeds require water to kickstart the seed dormancy.
  • They both susceptible to molding if done incorrectly.
  • Pre-soaking the seeds can be done prior to planting.
  • You can grow both sprouts and microgreens indoors.




Time to Harvest

3- 5 days

7-14 days


Shorter at 2-3 inches

Generally longer being 4-7 inches

Growth Medium

Grown Hydroponically

Can be grown in either hydroponic media or soil

Physiological Appearance

Do not form the true leaves but only the seed leaves (cotyledon)

Form true leaves

How to eat

Whole sprout is eaten – seed, root, stem, and seed leaves

Only part above soil level is eaten – not the seed or root

Nutritional content

Less than microgreens

More than sprouts

Requirement for Light

Do not need light to grow (little to no photosynthesis)

Require light to grow

Ventilation while growing

Do not need air ventilation

Require good air ventilation

Recipes to include

Great for crunch and stir-fry

Great for soup, salad, garnish, sandwich, and various dishes


Limited in choices

Well over 80 types to grow

Fiber content

Less than microgreens

More than sprouts

Cost to purchase

Cheaper than microgreens

More expensive than sprouts


What Are Microgreens?

What are microgreens, anyway? The seedlings of just about any vegetable or herb can be eaten shortly after they have germinated. Most microgreens are harvested after the first true leaves appear, but they can be eaten at the cotyledon stage.

Most microgreens should take about only 2 to 3 days to germinate and roughly 7 to 14 days to be ready for harvest. That said, the later the harvest time, the stronger the taste and less tender. 

They can be grown hydroponically. We use and recommend planting microgreens with hemp fiber grow mats.

Members of the cole plant family are fast sprouting including mustard, radishes, and cress. Herbs such as basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, and borage are slower to emerge as are beets, chard, arugula, and purslane. You can also grow shoots of peas, wheat, buckwheat, sunflowers, and nasturtiums this way. These latter microgreens will need to be soaked prior to planting.

Clip them off at the soil line after the true leaves appear. Handle with care, wash to remove any dirt or seed hulls, dry, and use immediately or refrigerate until you need them. For the most flavor and nutrients eat them right away.

Growing Bean Sprouts

Sprouts take only 3 to 5 days to harvest, and they are harvested shorter (2 to 3 inches).

Sprouts can be grown hydroponically without soil and also don't need light or air ventilation. You eat the entire sprout whereas you cut off the microgreens above the soil level, harvesting just the leaves.

That said, sprouts are less nutritious than microgreens with less fiber content, too. Raw sprouts can also be riskier to eat.

Since there have been problems with people becoming sick and even dying after eating sprouts contaminated with food-borne pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella, listeria, and staphylococcus, make sure to buy sprouting seeds from a reputable source that has tested their seeds for these micro-organisms and make sure your jars and lids are extremely clean.

A good rinsing of the seeds and an overnight soak in warm water gets things started.

Use a 1-quart canning jar with a piece of plastic canvas replacing the solid lid to make it easy to rinse and drain the seeds several times a day. A piece of cheesecloth or nylon netting will work too.

A heaping tablespoon of a mix of alfalfa, clover, and radish seeds sprouted in 3 days.

With rinsing and draining the sprouts 3 times a day, you could be eating them in sandwiches and omelets after they reach about 2 inches long in less than a week.



Continue reading

Your Cart

Your cart is currently empty.
Click here to continue shopping.
Thanks for contacting us! We'll get back to you shortly. Thanks for subscribing Thanks! We will notify you when it becomes available! The max number of items have already been added There is only one item left to add to the cart There are only [num_items] items left to add to the cart