Onion powder is a flavor bomb created through the dehydration of fresh onion bulbs. You can use this powder in cooking a variety of savory dishes that requires the sweet and savory aromatic depth of onion, specifically, those recipes that do not require the presence of moist onion.
Isn’t this powder so convenient?! Imagine putting the taste and aroma of the onions in your dish without the unnecessary tears while cutting it!
But, what if you run out of onion powder in the middle of a hot bout of cooking, and sadly, you cannot do your groceries ahead of schedule? Here are some alternatives you can use instead!
- Dried or Onion Flakes
- Finely Chopped Onion or Grated Onion
- Onion Salt
- Garlic Salt
- Onion Paste
- Garlic Powder
If you are really down on your luck and still unable to find the alternatives above, read on as we share the full comprehensive list of the best Onion Powder Substitutes,
But first, they learn a bit more about this popular flavor bomb.
17 Best Substitute For Onion Powder
Onion Powder contains a very concentrated taste, considering how a single bulb of the said allium can only produce so much powder.
After going through the process of dehydration, the onions are then grounded to fine powder, thus condensing their flavor. Commercial onion powders are prepared using dehydration, freeze-drying, vacuum-shelf drying and flow drying.[Source]
In terms of taste, the best onion powder substitute will be dried onion flakes.
Luckily, there are plenty of substances that you can use when you run out of these flavor bombs!
With that said, you cannot substitute onion powder willy-nilly, so here’s a list of great alternatives that don’t stray too far from your missing seasoning.
Dried Onion Flakes
The closest sub for your absent seasoning is dried onion flakes. Like onion powder, this alternative is made from dried onion but grounded in larger particle sizes. Its flavor is similar to that of the powder, but the flakes are a lot drier in the moisture aspect.
There are two possible ways how you can utilize this in place of onion powder.
One, you can use it as it is. This is a lot easier but, you will have to risk not having an accurate estimation of the ratio. Furthermore, dishes that require some moisture would be drier than its counterpart.
If you ever decide to choose this method, use a whole tablespoon of flakes for every teaspoon of powder.
Two, you can use a grinder or a blender to grind the condiments more and achieve a product very similar to onion powder.
The ratio of usage when you use this method will be 1:1, meaning a tablespoon of onion powder calls for a tablespoon of flakes as well.
Fresh onion as a sub for your powdered allium? Of course, you can use it!
However, just because onion powder came from onion doesn’t mean that you can easily use the latter as an alternative.
In some cases, using this as your replacement will give your dish an entirely different feel or taste due to the excess moisture. With that being said, you can easily avoid this by being mindful of how much water or other liquid you will add to your dish.
Grated onions can provide a more pronounced flavor and a more distinct pungent aroma since you made them solely with onion flesh. That is unlike onion powder which is usually made from various parts of the onion, like the stem and the skin.
A combination of onion powder and granulated salt, onion salt is one of the better substitutes for onion powder! This seasoning goes very well with your dipping sauces, soups, marinade, and roasted meats.
Better yet, this seasoning is very easy to find as it is commonly found in the spice section of your favorite stores!
As previously mentioned, this alternative contains salt, thus adding other salt sources indiscriminately will destroy the taste of your food.
You will have to modify the other salty agent of your dish if you ever decide to use onion salt. You might even want to add this or other salt sources a bit at a time, while taste testing it to better gauge the proper ratio.
Similar to the previous selection, garlic salt is a mixture of granulated salt and fine garlic powder. It is best used in your dipping sauces, soups, marinade, stocks, and roasted meats. And just like onion salt, this seasoning is easily accessible as well in your favorite stores.
Garlic salt can be a great substitute for your onion powder as it has the same texture albeit a bit different taste.
However, this product contains a higher amount of sodium than the former and its garlic taste might not be enough to cover the missing onion taste.
About two-thirds of this flavoring is pure salt so you will have to watch other salt content and even the garlic salt itself, especially if you need to monitor your sodium intake.
Taste your dish while adding this to ensure that you add just the right ratio to your cooking.
Onion paste is a thickening sauce made from pureed fresh onions. Similar to the minced and grated onions, this alternative provides moisture and a different texture to your dishes compared to onion powder.
This is a better way to substitute your missing spice compared to the earlier selection of grating or chopping onion as you can easily preserve this.
To create onion paste, you can conveniently use your leftover onions in your fridge, then chop them as tiny as you can. Put the chopped onions in the blender and process them until they become a fine paste.
You can use your spare ice cube trays to store and divide the yield to your liking. Put the paste in your freezer, but make sure to cover it with food-grade plastic wrap to avoid the leakage of the strong oniony aroma in your fridge.
This will make sure that you can use this alternative for a long time. Thaw your onion paste cubes for every usage, and you can now use 2-3 tablespoons of it to replace a teaspoon of onion powder.
You can easily mistake the appearance of a bulb of shallot for that of the white onions. This striking similarity says a lot about the ability of the former to replace onion powder.
Shallots, as described by many, taste just like an onion.
However, although the two alliums look and taste very similar, shallots lack the bite that you usually find in onions. Shallot has a gentler taste but it is a versatile cooking flavoring as it has the characteristics of both garlic and onion.
The lack of kick is a big downside for the shallot, but its health benefits say otherwise.
This healthy alternative contains minerals and vitamins essential to a good lifestyle. If you are planning to use this in place of onion powder, use two chopped bulbs of shallot for every tablespoon of your missing seasoning.
Garlic powder might not taste the same as onion, but it has a pungency that creates an oniony undertone to your food.
Of course, expect that your food will taste more garlicky when you use it. That means this seasoning is more fitted to those who prefer this flavor profile.
To swap this with your onion powder, use half a teaspoon of garlic powder for every teaspoon of your absent flavoring.
Scallions are a close relative of onions that don’t require bulbs to grow out before harvesting. It has a long green stalk with a white bulb-like bottom, which is perfect for soups or finishing touches for some dishes.
As a staple in Asian cuisine, scallions can easily swap for onion powder. It also has multiple health benefits absent from regular onion powder.
However, you must take note that scallions taste gentler and sweeter than onions, and you generally need to add more of them to match the onion powder requirements of your dish.
Furthermore, scallions are perishable ingredients that would usually only last for a few days.
To match the necessary amount of onion powder in your dish, use around thrice of the required value.
Leeks are the larger version of scallions and belong to the same family of allium with onions.
Even with the striking similarity with scallions, leeks taste much different from the former and more comparable to that of the onion. That makes leeks, a better substitute than the previous ingredient.
Leeks are a good source of multiple vitamins like A and C, and various essential minerals in your diet. If the reason for your search for great alternatives for onion powder is mainly dietary in nature, then this is a good sub for you.
For the best result, use a cup of minced leeks to replace a teaspoon of onion powder.
Fennels Bulbs aren’t quite what you’d imagine as a suitable onion powder replacement as their texture is nothing like onion powder. Thus, their feel in your food might be significantly different.
However, fennel bulbs are actually a great replacement for onion powder as they have the same aroma, flavor, and bittersweetness.
Furthermore, fennel bulbs may also provide significant health benefits, making them the ideal complement to your recipes in place of your missing piece.
Fennel is very crunchy when eaten raw. If that’s not your thing, you may use it for cooked meals instead like soups and stews, as well as seasoning meat and vegetables, where the process will make it silkier and softer.
In recent years, celery became a staple substitute for onion in some dishes. Although celery is gaining some popularity, this alternative might not be the best choice; as such, use it only if you have to.
Celery will work as an aromatic in your dish, but it will taste quite bitter when cooked. Also, make sure to reduce the added liquid by a small amount as celery consists mostly of water.
Fresh garlic is also a good substitute for onion powder if you are a fan of this aromatic.
It is also a part of the allium family which is why it has the same pungency you are looking for in onion powder. Furthermore, garlic does not have that excess moisture found in fresh onions, which affects the texture of food when added.
Fresh garlic has a stronger flavor than onion powder, so you might want to use about a 1:2 ratio of it. Otherwise, garlic might simply overpower the overall taste of your dish.
If you have celery salt in your pantry, you can use that to substitute for onion powder. Similar to onion salt and garlic salt, you may swap using a 1:1 ratio of onion powder with celery salt. However, make sure to reduce all other sources of salt in your dishes.
Just like celery, celery salt’s taste has zero resemblance to that of onion powder. But if you are after the robustness of the flavor that onions provide, then you are in for a treat with celery salt.
Similar to the previous selection, celery seeds do not taste the same as onion powder but are still a great alternative when you are in a pinch.
Celery seeds are best used in dishes that require sauteing and cooking as their taste blooms the greatest in those situations.
Celery seeds are crispier in texture and produce an earthy bitter taste, so use them accordingly.
Other Potential Alternatives
Resorting to these alternatives simply means that you don’t have the above ingredients in your pantry.
If push comes to shove, you may try using products like onion soup mix. Shallot-infused oil, black garlic powder, and other products with a similar tone.
Using these products would require you to be a bit inventive so the ratio would ultimately depend on you.
How To Choose Your Onion Powder Alternative?
The very first thing to consider when choosing alternatives is if they are readily available or accessible. Onion powder is usually found on the spice aisles so they would seldom go unavailable.
If you are using an alternative that will be harder to look for, then it may not really be a worthwhile endeavor. Garlic powder, onion salt, and garlic salt are usually the most readily available among the selection of alternatives.
Fresh alternatives would always offer more health benefits than their dried counterparts. If you are a health-savvy person, it is best to consider alternatives like leeks and scallions before the other substitutes.
The main purpose of onion powder in your food is to give it taste, pungency, and bite. Using other alternatives would usually make one of these things absent.
So go ponder about it, what would be the second-best option for your tastebud when onion powder is not available?
Health conditions like allergy and other chronic diseases might affect your decision on choosing the right alternative. For example, if your health calls for you to take less sodium, you may want to cross out both garlic salt and onion salt in your selection.