Onions vs. Onion Powder
Trust us, the taste will never be the same even if they are substitutes for each other. Why is that? Simply because of the dehydration process. While fresh onions are around 89% water, powdered onions, do not have the moisture as most of their microbes are extracted, which is why they last longer than the fresh ones. Also, the lack of moisture can prove to be favorable as onion powder will not make your dish moist, which is ideal if your recipe calls for more dry than liquid ingredients. Note that due to their dryness, onion powders tend to burn quickly. So be careful when you put them on your wok.
Additionally, your dishes’ texture will vary dramatically if you choose to use onion powder instead of chopped, fresh onions. Fresh onions mean more than just for flavor. They provide texture, crispness, a silky softness when they are caramelized, which onions powders won’t provide. And as they are packed with moisture, they will also add an extra level of moisture to your dish.Nonetheless, if you are wanting to skip the preparation part of chopping onions, then onion powder is a great option for you. Although they have their individual flavor profile and are appealing in their own ways, they can also be amazing together. But what if you’re all out of both fresh onions and onion powder? Not to worry; we have a solution for that as well. Let’s take a look at our top substitutes for onion powder.
A “Must-Have” Onion Powder Substitutes
2. Fresh Vegetables
Now don’t get too excited about this one. When we say vegetables, it’s mainly only fresh celery or fennel bulb that will do the trick. Although they may fail to provide the same flavor as fresh onions or onion powder, they tend to go well in recipes that call for onion powder. Chopped celeries or fennel undoubtedly goes well with stews, soups, and casseroles. In addition to these vegetables, adding a pinch cumin powder can boost the flavor of the dish when you don’t have onion powder in your pantry. Like onions, these sliced vegetables also bring some texture to your dish but may not be appropriate if your recipe does not require any texture at all.
3. Onion Flakes
Onion flakes are good because they contain onion, which naturally provides a good substitute for the flavor of onion powder. It is yet another dried minced version of the fresh kind. Like onion powder, onion flakes are also dehydrated with no moisture in them. You may come across them in small jars in any store. They are made of small, dry chunks of dehydrated onion just like the powder. However, unlike onion powders, they have some texture due to the chunks of onions, which might be a problem if your dish needs to have a smooth, silky texture. Note, there are some granulated onions on the market, which make another great alternative if you want a smoother texture.
4. Onion & Garlic Salt
It’s high time to leave your ordinary table salt behind and get some garlic salt in stock. Onion salts are nothing but onion powder with salts in them. Therefore, all you require is to know how much to add in your recipe and you will be fine. Note, onion salt has less intensity than onion powder or fresh onions in terms of flavor. Add them to liven up your boring dips, marinades or rubs.Even if you can’t find an onion and garlic salt variety, garlic salt alone can make a reasonable alternative. Okay, it won’t give the same onion flavor as onion powder or fresh onions, but garlic does belong to the same family and therefore can be used as a viable alternative to onion powder if you have no other option. Don't forget to be careful with the quantity so you don’t overpower your dish with that distinctive garlic flavor.
Shallots are considered to be an essential element to any pantry, as they give a slightly different but mild and fresh flavor to any dish. They are the same as onions but smaller and with a fresher flavor. Many would say there’s almost no difference between onions and shallots besides their flavor. That’s what makes shallots a perfect substitute for onion powder. Shallots are ideal for making sauces and dressing, as they caramelize almost immediately.
6. Scallions (Green Onions)
When it comes to substituting onion powder, what better way to replace it than with something that comes from the same family. Sometimes referred to as green onions and spring onions, scallions are in fact the adolescent stage of an onion, collected before the bulb is totally matured. Therefore, spring onions are yet another perfect replacement of onion powder that has a strong onion flavor.
Belonging to the family of Allium vegetables, leeks look almost like scallions aside from being much bigger and longer. But don’t let their similar appearances fool you: leeks and scallions taste entirely different. However, leeks still have that same level of intensity to their flavor as onions, which makes them another good substitute if you’re in a pinch. Still, if you are looking for an ideal replacement, try sticking to the onion family as much as possible.
Another family member we shouldn’t ignore so easily. Chives have a subtler oniony taste that is identical to a green onion. Thus, their mild flavor makes them perfect when your pantry is out of onion powder or onions. Note, chives don’t have a strong flavor profile, and the flavor becomes non-existent when cooked. Thus, we recommend you to used chives raw if possible to replicate the oniony taste.