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The 17 Best Substitutes For Onion Powder

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Spices and seasonings in our pantry have a way of making our lives much simpler when it comes to building flavor in our cooking. They are cost effective, last forever, and a little bit goes a long way to achieve the flavor you are aiming for.

One seasoning that packs a pungent and yummy layer of flavor to a dish is onion powder. Where raw onions have the potential to be too pungent, onion powder tends to build the flavor without the punch.

But what if you go to grab your onion powder and you are all out? Or maybe a recipe calls for onion powder but you have an allergy or intolerance to onion products. What are you to do?

So, what are the best substitutes for onion powder? The best substitute for onion powder is dehydrated onion flakes. You can also use fresh onion, onion juice, onion salt, shallots, scallions, chives, garlic powder or salt, fresh garlic, fennel bulbs, leeks, celery seeds or salt, onion dip mix, black garlic powder, or shallot infused olive oil.

Keep reading to learn more about onion powder and its uses, as well as why these substitutes work and how to incorporate them into your cooking.

What Is Onion Powder?

Onion powder is a very fine beige colored seasoning that comes from the grounding of dehydrated onions into powder form.

Onion powder is a pantry staple and can be found in the spice and seasoning section of your local grocery store or online.

How Is Onion Powder Used?

As it is a seasoning and in powdered form, onion powder can be used in quite a few different ways.

Where fresh onions hold a lot of moisture and can be quite pungent at times, onion powder is a great addition when looking for that particular onion flavor without the texture or moisture regular onions produce.

It is often used to season meats making an excellent addition to a dry rub for barbequed meat or a part of homemade taco seasoning. 

Onion powder is a great addition to sauces or dressings to get a smooth texture that raw onions can disrupt. 

Onion powder is also a great seasoning for roasting just about any type of vegetable, like asparagus, broccoli, and potatoes. 

17 Best Substitutes For Onion Powder

There are quite a few ingredients that can be used as a substitute for onion powder, but the texture and flavors vary greatly.

It is important to keep texture, flavor, moisture level, and even color in mind when choosing a substitute as these factors can greatly affect your dish.

Without further ado, here are the 17 best substitutes for onion powder.

1. Dehydrated Onion Flakes

The best substitute for onion powder is dehydrated onion flakes (which are actually what ground onion powder is made of).

Dehydrated onion flakes (they may also be labeled as “minced onion”) are very small chopped and dried out onion pieces.

Like onion powder, onion flakes have the potent onion flavor, but they are more textured than the powdered form.

If you have a grinder in your kitchen and do not mind an extra step, you can even turn the dehydrated onion flakes into a powder (though it is probably not necessary unless you are very concerned about texture). 

They are dry like onion powder, and therefore produce the same texture and flavor in the dish you incorporate them in.

Dehydrated onion flakes can be found at your local grocery store in the spice and seasoning aisle, online and even at specialty food shops. 

When substituting dehydrated onion pieces for onion powder, you can use a one to one ratio as their characteristics are that similar. 

Onion flakes would be a good substitute for rubs, salad dressings and salads, seasoning vegetables and sauces. 

2. Fresh Onion 

Another substitute for onion powder would be fresh onion, specifically, yellow or white onion.

The best way to utilize fresh onion as a substitution would be to finely grate it, but you could also finely chop it if grating is not an option for you (just make sure to chop it as tiny as possible).

Another option would be to utilize a food processor and pulse the fresh onion until it is in small pieces, being careful not to make a paste.

Fresh onion will give your dish the same oniony flavor, however the characteristics of the vegetable make it much different from the powder.

Fresh onion is full of moisture and has a bigger bite to it and is a lot more pungent than onion powder. 

Also, because you grate or finely chop it, the texture of the onion will be grainy and/or fibrous in whatever dish you incorporate it in.

Because of these characteristic differences, it is best to utilize fresh onion as a substitute in recipes when texture is not a big issue (that means not using this as part of a rub for your barbecued meat).

Fresh onion is a great substitute in sauces, casseroles, dips and dressings. 

For every tablespoon of onion powder, utilize about ½ cup of freshly grated onion.

3. Onion Juice

Onion juice is exactly what it sounds like….juiced onion in a bottle.

More specifically, it is juiced onion with a bit of vinegar and salt in a bottle and it makes for a good substitute for onion powder. 

As onion powder comes from dehydrated flakes of onion, it may upset the stomachs of those who have a hard time digesting the meat of the onion. 

Therefore, onion juice may be a substitution that helps avoid digestion issues as it is just the liquid that comes from the onion.

However, keep in mind that it is a completely liquid form. Where fresh onion had bits of moisture that could affect a dish, this liquid does so even more. 

If using onion juice as a substitution, it is best to start small and add more as you go. Because it also includes vinegar, too much of the onion juice may ruin the dish. 

As it is a liquid, onion juice is a great substitute for sauces, soups and stews, dressings, and dips.

We do not recommend using it in casseroles, or the seasoning of meats or vegetables. 

4. Onion Salt

Onion salt is a seasoning that is made up of equal parts onion powder and salt.

Because of this mixture, onion salt tends to be a bit lighter in color than onion powder, but it can usually be found right next to it in the spices and seasoning aisle of the grocery store.

In regards to texture, onion salt is the closest on the list to onion powder being a finely grated powder. 

However, because of the salt content in onion salt, you need to be careful with how much you are using as a substitute if you are also including salt into the dish. 

If you want to use a one to one ratio of onion salt and onion powder (which is great and will give you the onion flavor you are looking for) it is important to cut out any additional salt. 

Just remember that it will up the salt content in the dish, so add the onion salt before adding any regular salt. 

Onion salt works best as a substitute in roasted vegetables, meat dishes, casseroles, dips and dressings. 

5. Shallots

Shallots are a part of the onion family, being much smaller and shaped differently than an onion. An onion is rounder where a shallot is more oval-like.

Shallots have a copper or rose gold colored exterior that is textured like the outside of an onion with an extremely light purple or sometimes slightly green interior.

They are a cross in both texture and taste of an onion and garlic having notes of both when raw or cooked.

Compared to onions, shallots are a bit milder in taste and do not pack as big of a punch as yellow or white onions do.

You do have to worry about texture if using a shallot as a replacement, and they are a bit moist as well, so it is best to use them in sauces, soups and stews, casseroles, and salads.

Because they are milder in taste, you need about 2 small shallots for every tablespoon of onion powder

6. Scallions

Scallions, also known as green onions or spring onions, are another substitute for onion powder.

They are long and skinny with a short white crisp bottom with the remainder (and majority) of the vegetable being a dark green on the top.

The entire scallion is edible, even with the texture varying throughout the vegetable.

The bottom is crisp and has a slight crunch to it, where the top is a bit more delicate and almost paper like. 

The bottom white part of the scallion can be cooked, but the top green part is best when served raw. 

Scallions tend to taste a bit more mild and sweeter than other onions or onion powder, therefore you may need a large amount of scallions to achieve the onion taste you are looking for. 

Because scallions do better without heat applied, they work best as a substitute for dressings, dips, and salads. 

7. Chives

Chives are an available substitute for onion powder. They are like scallions, in looks and in flavor, but they do have some differences.  

Chives are almost like scallion’s little brother– their coloring is exactly the same, white bottoms and dark green tops, but chives tend to be much smaller in height and width. 

The entire part of the chive is edible tasting like a milder version of scallions. They have notes of onion with a bit of sweetness and grassiness. 

Chives tend to be used mostly as a garnish in dishes bringing a bright and fresh element to a dish. They do not work well when heat is applied. 

Because chives do not do well when heat is applied, they work best as a substitute for salads, dips and dressings. 

Also, because they are extremely mild in taste, plan on using quite a large quantity of chives to achieve the onion taste that onion powder produces.

A good rule of thumb would be about 1 bunch of chives for every tablespoon of onion powder.

8. Garlic Powder

Though the flavor profile of garlic powder is a bit different, it still works as a substitute for onion powder.

Garlic powder and onion powder are nearly identical in looks. They both are a light beige color and are ground into a very fine powder.

Like onion powder, garlic powder is made from the grinding of dehydrated garlic pieces therefore they have nearly identical textures.

It has garlic notes, but when mixed in certain recipes in place of onion powder, garlic powder tends to work well, and the flavor works with the other components. 

Compared to some other substitutes on the list, this one works best if texture is your biggest concern. Garlic powder dissolves just as easily as onion powder unlike fresh onion or onion juice. 

As everything before this is related to an onion in some way, garlic powder is a great substitute for those who cannot consume onion. 

Garlic powder can be used at a one to one ratio and works well for rubs, salad dressings and salads, seasoning vegetables and sauces

9. Garlic Salt

Garlic salt is like garlic powder, except it is primarily made with salt and just bits of garlic powder.

Garlic salt is similar in color to garlic powder, but it is a bit lighter looking more like onion salt.

The ratio in garlic salt is about ¾ salt and ¼ garlic powder making it have garlic notes, but being predominantly salty in taste. 

The texture is close to onion powder, it is extremely fine, making this a good substitute in recipes where texture is a big concern.

Like if you are using onion salt, you need to be careful with how much garlic salt you are using as a substitute if you are also including salt into the dish.

A one to one ratio of onion powder and garlic salt works, just make sure to lower the amount of traditional salt in the recipe or you risk having a dish that is too salty. 

Garlic salt works best as a substitute in roasted vegetables, meat dishes, casseroles, dips and dressings. 

10. Fresh Garlic

Garlic is one of those ingredients that everyone seems to have on hand making it a good substitute for onion powder. 

Garlic is in the same family as the onion, so it still carries some of the pungency that onions do but without a high level of “spice” that onions can carry sometimes.

However, garlic still has a baby punch to it and a similar profile making it a decent substitute for onion powder if in a pinch.

Fresh garlic will not hold a lot of moisture like a fresh onion or shallot would, therefore you will not have to worry about that when using it as a substitute.

You will have to worry about texture though as fresh garlic will be thicker and more noticeable than onion powder.

When using it as a substitute, make sure to finely chop it to get it as small as possible. Do not mash it together as it will form into a paste.

Even though garlic is textured, because it does not have a lot of moisture it can be used in a plethora of ways.

Use it when a rub or homemade seasoning calls for it (simply add it first, then follow with the spices) add it to dressings, soups and stews, casseroles, dips, and more.

Though it can be used in many ways, just remember it will not have the exact flavor as onion powder, so use accordingly. 

11. Fennel Bulbs

Fennel is a celery looking plant with a big, circular, white bottom with long, green celery like stalks coming out of it. It also has dill looking leaves poking out of the top. 

When uncooked, fennel tends to have a mild licorice or star anise flavor and as it cooks the flavor becomes a lot milder.

The entire part of the fennel is edible, and it is extremely crunchy when raw, like celery, yet gets soft and malleable when cooked. 

If using as a replacement for onion powder, it is best to only use them cooked as the raw licorice flavor may disrupt the dish.

However, when cooked, as the flavor gets milder, it becomes a bit more onion-like.

Because fennel has a particular taste and works best when cooked, if substituting for onion powder it is best in warm dishes like casseroles or soups and stews.

If the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of onion powder, use only about ½ tablespoon of fennel.

12. Leeks

Leeks are a long and large vegetable that highly resemble scallions.

Where chives look like scallion’s little brother, leeks look like their big brother being white on the bottoms and dark green on the top.

Their texture is similar to scallions being crunchy and crisp on the bottoms and a bit more delicate and easy to rip through on the top. 

Leeks taste very similar to onion but tend to be a bit more mild and sweet. They are also able to be eaten cooked or raw.

The biggest concern about using leeks as a substitute is their texture, so keep that in mind when using. 

Leeks works best as a substitute in soups and stews, casseroles, and salads. 

To substitute, use 1 cup of minced leeks in place of 1 tablespoon of onion powder.

13. Celery Seeds

Celery seeds are exactly what they sound like–the seeds that grow celery stalks. 

They are tiny little bulbs that are a bit crunchy when bitten into and taste like an earthy and bitter celery.

While celery seeds will not give you the onion-y taste of onion powder, they will give a layer or aromatics to this dish that are similar to onions.

Celery seeds work best when cooked or “toasted” therefore, it might be best to only use them in recipes that require heat or sauteing. 

Use celery seeds in soups and stews, casseroles, and even hot dips.

14. Celery Salt 

Celery salt is a seasoning that is a mixture of ground celery seeds and salt.

It is a fine powder, like onion powder, but tastes like a salty bite of celery. 

Similar to celery seeds, it does not necessarily taste like onions, but it can still contribute to a similar aromatic flavor that you get when adding onion powder to a dish. 

It is mostly salt, having a ratio of about ¾ salt to ¼ ground celery seed, therefore you want to be careful when using celery salt in your recipes.

Make sure to lower the salt content if using celery salt. 

Celery salt works best as a substitute in dressings or dips.

15. Onion Soup and Dip Mix

This may seem odd, but if needing to substitute onion powder you may try using an onion soup and dip mix.

Traditionally used to make french onion dip, french onion soup, or to throw with some meat in a crock pot, onion soup mix and dip taste extremely oniony, however it is quite salty.

It is usually a medium to dark brown color with chunks of dehydrated onions.

While this does taste a lot like onions and onion powder (which is actually an ingredient in this substitution) compared to the other items on this list, onion soup and dip mix has a long list of ingredients including corn syrup, yeast extract and soy sauce.

These added ingredients may be an issue to those with allergies. 

If choosing to use onion soup and dip mix, beware of any additional salt you plan on adding. Use ½ tablespoon for every one tablespoon of onion powder. 

Use this as a substitute in dry rubs, dips, dressings and as a seasoning to roast vegetables.

16. Black Garlic Powder

Black garlic powder is a mixture of salt, black garlic, regular garlic, onion, and other spices.

It is a dark black color tastes a bit like garlic and onion with a big “umami” flavor to it.

It is a fine ground powder making it dissolvable like the other powders and salts on this list.

However, unlike the other ingredients on this list it does contain some sugar, so it tends to be a bit sweet as well.

While it could work as a substitute, the sweetness could affect your overall dish. 

If using black garlic powder as a substitute, use it in dry rubs, salad dressings, vegetable seasoning, and sauces.

Use about ½ tablespoon of black garlic powder for every 1 tablespoon of onion powder.

17. Shallot Infused Olive Oil

Shallot infused olive oil is at the bottom of the list because it should truly be used as a last resort substitute.

This is a good substitute for those who suffer an onion and garlic intolerance as it is meant to be easy on the stomach of those who have an issue with those ingredients. 

It is an olive oil so it is predominantly made with oil with a bit of shallot to give it an oniony essence.

If you choose to use this, just anticipate the possibility of needing to add more seasoning or spices to achieve your desired flavor.

As it is an oil, this would work best in dips, dressings, or as a coating to meat and vegetables before cooking. 

Instead of replacing it directly for onion powder, use it in place of plain flavored oil or other fat in a recipe to give you the onion aromatic.

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