Many recipes call for fresh garlic because the flavor and aroma are best right after a clove is peeled. If you don't have a bulb of garlic, there are a few easy substitutes that may already be in your spice cupboard. Dried forms, including garlic flakes and powder, can easily replace fresh cloves in the majority of dishes without sacrificing flavor. You will, however, have to make some adjustments to your recipe.
Fresh Garlic Substitutes
Grocery stores are stocked with several forms of prepared garlic, including jars of minced garlic preserved in water and a variety of dried garlic options. They're a convenient way to add garlic's signature taste to food. Keeping at least one of these in the pantry ensures you always have a substitute when you run out of fresh garlic cloves.
One clove of garlic produces approximately 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic or 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic. When replacing fresh garlic, the flavor intensity is not the same, so you will need to adjust the measurement.
- Minced garlic: Use 1/2 teaspoon of jarred minced garlic in place of each clove.
- Garlic flakes: Also called dehydrated (or dried) minced garlic, use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic flakes in place of each clove.
- Granulated garlic: Use 1/4 teaspoon of granulated garlic in place of each clove.
- Garlic powder: Use 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder in place of each clove.
- Garlic salt: Use 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt in place of each clove. This will add an extra 3/8 teaspoon of salt, so decrease the salt in your recipe accordingly.
Choosing the Right Substitute
If you have more than one of these garlic substitutes, go with the one that best mimics the texture of fresh garlic. Minced garlic is the closest match, and it can be used in recipes in the same ways that you’d use fresh garlic. This jarred version does include ingredients to preserve the garlic, which is a deterrent for some cooks and can detract from the flavor.
Among the dried options, garlic flakes are a good choice. Once hydrated in food, the flavor and texture of the flakes mimic fresh garlic relatively well. Granulated and powdered garlic will add the garlic flavor but no texture. They're typically best used in liquid recipes, such as marinades and sauces.
Though there are drawbacks to each, any of these substitutes will add a garlicky flavor to your recipe. Use whichever one you have on hand.
Cooking With Substitutes
Many recipes call for sautéing garlic in hot oil before adding the rest of the ingredients. When using a substitute, you will likely want to skip that step. In those recipes, fresh garlic is generally cooked very quickly because it burns easily and produces a bitter taste. You can sauté jarred minced garlic in a similar manner but only for a minute at most.
In most instances, you're better off adding any garlic substitute later in the recipe. In a sauce or marinade, for instance, add it along with the other seasonings.
If you're looking for a substitute because you just discovered your garlic has sprouted, you might not need one after all. Sprouted garlic is still safe to eat. Though slightly bitter, the green shoots can be eaten as well. If you prefer, slice a peeled clove open and remove the shoot from the center, then chop the rest of the clove.
To keep your garlic from sprouting in the future, be sure to store it in a cool, dry place, and not in plastic bags. Properly stored garlic bulbs will keep for months. Refrigeration encourages sprouting and reduces garlic's shelf life to just a few weeks.
If you’re allergic to garlic or are preparing a meal for someone who is, try adding a bit of ginger or cumin to the recipe in its place. Neither tastes exactly like garlic, but they'll help to replace some of the flavor and fragrance that would otherwise be missing from the dish. Start with a small amount and work up, until you're pleased with the results.