Food & Drink

8 Garlic Powder Substitutes That Work in a Pinch

Published on November 20, 2023 | 0 Comments
Garlic Powder Substitutes

If your recipe calls for garlic powder and you’re out, you can either skip it or you can use a  garlic powder substitute. Garlic powder is an underappreciated but critical ingredient in so many of our favorite dishes. It’s in every jar of sauce and every spice blend in your pantry. Ranch dressing isn’t ranch dressing without garlic powder. Taco seasoning isn’t taco seasoning without garlic powder. From barbeque rubs to salad dressings, garlic powder is there. It’s a simple but powerful ingredient. And at some point, you’ll realize you’ve run out right when you need it. 

Are there any garlic powder substitutes that really fit the bill? Can you sub real garlic for garlic powder? While there are not many good subs for garlic powder, there are a few options that might save you in a pinch. The key to getting the best results with garlic powder alternatives is to know how to properly make the substitutions.


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What Is Garlic Powder?

Garlic powder is a straightforward ingredient. It’s garlic that has been dehydrated and ground into a fine powder. As with most herbs and spices, the flavor is far more powerful and concentrated in dried forms than in fresh. That means a little garlic powder goes a long way. The great thing about garlic powder is that it has a shelf life of about six months, so it’s easier to keep on hand than fresh garlic. which tends to go rancid fairly quickly. 

Garlic Powder Substitutes
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Purpose of Garlic Powder in Cooking

How important is a garlic powder substitute if your recipe calls for it and you don’t have any? Garlic powder is one of the most ubiquitous ingredients in packaged and pre-made foods. Your favorite chili seasoning mix? Garlic powder. Jarred tikka masala sauce? Garlic powder. The batter on your chicken fried steak? Garlic powder. Pick up pretty much any canned food and read the ingredient list and you’ll find garlic powder. While you may not appreciate something that seems so insignificant, your favorite foods won’t be the same without it. 

Garlic powder has a distinct pungent taste. It instantly creates depth, especially when paired with onions. You might even say that garlic powder adds a touch of brightness to a dish, almost like adding citrus. Food just isn’t food without garlic powder, so it’s important to know what options you have for a garlic powder replacement in the event you need one.

Garlic powder can be found in almost all spice mixes
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How Much Garlic Powder Equals One Clove?

Fresh garlic is pretty powerful, but it’s got nothing on garlic powder. It only takes ⅛ tsp of garlic powder to equal one fresh garlic clove. That means if your recipe calls for 1 tsp of garlic powder, you’d need 8 fresh garlic cloves as a garlic powder alternative. 

What is a clove of garlic? If you’re not comfortable navigating your way around a head of garlic, you’ll want to start by learning. Check out cooking classes near you to get started.

Try cooking classes to learn how to use garlic substitutes
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8 Garlic Powder Substitutes 

1. Granulated Garlic

Your best bet for a garlic powder substitute is to use granulated garlic. Granulated garlic is also just dehydrated garlic, but it hasn’t been ground down as fine as garlic powder. You can use granulated garlic as a garlic powder substitute, but you’ll need to use twice as much. 

Depending on the recipe, you may want to consider using a spice mill to grind your granulated garlic down into a powder. This makes sense if your recipe is a dry rub. If the recipe involves cooking, you may want to add the granulated garlic further down in the process once there is liquid involved. While granulated garlic is a good garlic powder replacement, it may burn if added straight to hot oil in a pan. To avoid this, you can squeeze some lemon juice into the pan with the granulated garlic to help it integrate.

Garlic Powder Substitutes
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2. Garlic Salt

If you accidentally bought garlic salt instead of garlic powder (who hasn’t?) you’re in luck. Garlic salt is a functional garlic powder alternative. Garlic salt is one part garlic powder plus three parts salt, so make sure to dramatically reduce any other salt in your recipe. In general, you’ll need twice as much garlic salt as you would garlic powder. If you overdo it, you can use lemon juice or other citrus to overcome the extra saltiness.

garlic salt spilling on table
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3. Minced Garlic

Using minced garlic as a sub for garlic powder is essentially the same thing as using fresh garlic cloves. There are two important things to consider. First, if your recipe has entirely dry ingredients like a spice rub, minced garlic isn’t the best choice. It will burn easily in the pan or on a grill. 

The second thing to consider when using minced garlic as a garlic powder substitute is that it’s more potent. Unlike freshly chopped garlic, minced garlic has had time for its sulfur compounds to release, which results in a much more pungent form. For that reason, you’ll only want to use about half the amount called for if you are using minced garlic as a sub for garlic powder.

Minced garlic makes a great garlic powder substitute
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4. Garlic Flakes

Garlic flakes are similar to granulated garlic in that they are just a less fine version of garlic powder. Garlic flakes are a good choice as your garlic powder substitute in dishes that involve liquids and cooking. Keep in mind that garlic flakes are dry and will need time to hydrate and soften in order to integrate properly into your dish. When in doubt, use a little warm water to rehydrate the garlic flakes before adding to a recipe.

Try using garlic flakes as a garlic powder sub
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5. Garlic Paste

Culinary pastes are now commonly available either in the produce aisle or sometimes on the shelf near spaghetti sauces. Garlic paste would be a functional garlic powder substitute in a pinch if you happen to have some on hand. Fresh garlic brings more heat to a dish than garlic powder. Garlic paste is a concentrated form of fresh garlic, so use it conservatively. 

Garlic paste can be used as a garlic powder substitute
via Canva 

6. Ramps/Green Onions

You’ve done a full investigation of the kitchen and pantry but have no garlic products at all. Now what? The next best garlic powder alternative would be to use ramps or green onions. Ramps are an allium similar to a green onion but are much more garlicky in flavor. They can be found at local farmer’s markets but have a fairly short season. You’re more likely to have green onions in the fridge, so chop up some of the pungent white ends of the green onion if you need a garlic powder substitute.

Use green onions as a garlic powder subs
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7. Chives

Before you run to the store because you don’t have a good garlic powder substitute, check your window sills. Those adorable chives you’ve been growing and never remember to use are better than nothing when you need a sub for garlic powder.  

Use chives if you're looking for a garlic powder substitute
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8. Spice Mixes 

You’ll have to use some street smarts for this one. Pretty much any blend of spices that you have in your home has garlic powder in it. Depending on your recipe, it might make sense to use taco seasoning as a garlic powder substitute, especially if you’re going to be using the other spices in the mix like paprika, oregano or chili powder. 


Try using a spice mix to make your own garlic powder substitute
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Garlic powder is an ingredient that may be tempting to skip if you don’t have any on hand. But chances are you’ll notice a subtle difference in your food. There is a reason why garlic powder has earned a place on nearly every food label in your grocery store. That’s why it’s a good idea to get familiar with garlic powder substitutes so that your taste buds aren’t let down when you run out.

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