Onion-Powder-Substitutes

The 7 Best Onion Powder Substitutes

No matter whether you’re looking for a vegan, healthy, or quick onion powder substitute, there are plenty of options out there for you. In this article, you’ll learn more about what onion powder is and what other choices are on the market if you need a handy substitute.

What is onion powder
Onion powder is an ingredient that was initially created to offer an alternative to fresh onions. It provides a similar flavor to traditional onions but can last much longer in your pantry. Since many recipes rely on an oniony flavor, it has become an essential ingredient for many. However, if you run into a situation where you need onion powder but have none at hand, there are many substitutes you can use in its place.

How healthy (or unhealthy) is it?

Since onion powder is created from dehydrated onions, it offers some nutrients, but typically in small amounts. It has very few vitamins and minerals but will add carbohydrates and calories to your diet. You can take a look at the nutritional breakdown below to get an idea of what to expect out of 100 g of the average shaker of onion powder.

Nutritional Breakdown:

Onion powder

Amount (per 100 g)

% Recommended daily intake

Calories

417 kcal

20%

Total fat

0 g

0%

Saturated fat

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

83 g

30%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

0 mg

0%

Protein

0 g

0%

Calcium

0 mg

0%

Vitamin B-12

0 ug

0%

Potassium

0 mg

0%

(Based on nutritional information from USDA.)

What recipes are onion powder used in?

Onion powder is a diverse spice that is used in dishes of all kinds. It is a kitchen staple that adds a delicious oniony flavor to meals like stews and soups. It can also be used in sauces, dips, and salad dressings to add a dash of extra flavor.

Onion powder is also often an ingredient used in casseroles and can liven up vegetables. This dehydrated spice can also be combined with other ingredients to create marinades and rubs for your favorite proteins.

Why do we need onion powder substitutes?

Since onion powder is a versatile ingredient found in most kitchens, you might be wondering why a substitute would be needed in the first place. There are a few different reasons why this may be the case, one of which is simply because you might run into a situation where it isn’t available.

If you’ve run out or can’t find a shop that stocks it, having another option ensures you can create the dish you want without losing out on flavor. In addition, since the nutrition available through onion powder is minimal, some substitutes can contribute more towards creating a healthy meal.

Note:

 🌱 = vegan

1. Dehydrated onion flakes🌱

Best for: salads, stir-fries, baked fish or chicken, and casseroles.

Dehydrated onion flakes

Overview

Dehydrated onion flakes are similar to onion powder since both are made from dried onions. In fact, these ingredients are interchangeable and nearly identical. The main difference between the two is that flakes are going to be larger than powder will be. However, the flavor will be exactly the same, making a great substitute.

Advantages

One difference between onion flakes and powder is that onion flakes are drier, which means that they will not add additional unwanted moisture to your dish. Another advantage of choosing onion flakes is that they can be transformed into onion powder without much effort. Grinding the flakes up in a blender can create a close approximation to onion powder.

Disadvantages

Just like onion powder, onion flakes contain moderate amounts of calories and carbs, which may be an issue if you are on a diet. However, when using small amounts, this shouldn’t be a problem. The other disadvantage of dehydrated onion flakes is that they can dry out a dish more than onion powder. For recipes that are intended to be smooth and liquid, it may be better to turn the flakes into powder or add a little extra liquid.

Nutritional breakdown

Dehydrated onion flakes

Amount (per 100 g)

% Recommended daily intake

Calories

349 kcal

17%

Total fat

0.5 g

0.8%

Saturated fat

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

83 g

0%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

21 mg

1%

Protein

9 g

18%

Calcium

257 mg

1%

Vitamin B-12

0 ug

0%

Potassium

1622 mg

40%

(Based on nutritional information from USDA.)

2. Grated fresh onion🌱

Best for: soups, casseroles, dressings, dips, burgers, and egg dishes.

Grated fresh onion

Overview

Grated fresh onion is an onion powder substitute that offers more freshness than other powders and flakes. In order to create grated onion, all you need to do is peel an onion, trim off the edges, and then use a grater to cut it down to the appropriate size. You can also use a food processor to grate garlic even quicker and more efficiently.

Advantages

Grated onion can be taken down to a paste that is full of moisture, which provides a fragrant onion flavor without adding a lot of bulk to the dish. The taste is going to be stronger than when using powder since drying onion makes it lose some of its flavor. This can also be an advantage since you can usually get away with using much less fresh onion to get the same level of flavor you’re looking for.

Disadvantages

Fresh onion is also different from onion powders and salts in that it provides more moisture. Because of this, you may need to adjust the amount of water and other liquids in your dish accordingly. This can lead to complications as you work toward getting the ratio just right, but it is often worth the extra effort.  

Nutritional breakdown

Grated fresh onion

Amount (per 100 g)

% Recommended daily intake

Calories

40 kcal

2%

Total fat

0.1 g

0.2%

Saturated fat

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

9 g

3%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

4 mg

0.2%

Protein

1 g

2%

Calcium

23 mg

2%

Vitamin B-12

0 ug

0%

Potassium

146 mg

4%

(Based on nutritional information from USDA.)

3. Onion salt 🌱

Best for: egg dishes, soups, stews, tomato dishes, and marinades.

Onion salt

Overview

Another substitute for onion powder is onion salt, which is precisely what it sounds like. It consists of onion powder with salt added into the mix. Since it contains onion powder, it can act as an excellent substitute for typical onion powder. It doesn’t add extra moisture like fresh onion and adds the same onion powder taste that you are looking for.

Advantages

The fact that onion salt contains onion powder is a huge advantage since you get that same texture and flavor in dishes using the substitute. This is also an ingredient that can easily be found at your local supermarket, so it’s convenient to access if you need a garlic flavor in a pinch. It contains no fat, cholesterol, or calories, so it’s also relatively healthy for most.

Disadvantages

The main issue with onion salt being used as an onion powder substitute is that it contains much more salt. You will need to deal with this by using less salt throughout the rest of the recipe, or you could end up with an overly salty dish. In most cases, there is at least as much salt in the powder as there is onion, so if you want a strong garlic taste, you’ll also be adding a significant amount of extra salt to your dish.

Nutritional breakdown

Onion salt

Amount (per 100 g)

% Recommended daily intake

Calories

0 kcal

0%

Total fat

0 g

0%

Saturated fat

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

0 g

0%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

35455 mg

1866%

Protein

0 g

0%

Calcium

0 mg

0%

Vitamin B-12

0 ug

0%

Potassium

0 mg

0%

(Based on nutritional information from USDA.)


4. Fennel bulbs🌱

Best for: soaps, stews, salads, roasted chicken and other meats, and vegetable dishes.

Fennel bulbs

Overview

Fennel bulbs are another onion powder substitute that can be used if you have access to no garlic ingredients. While other parts of the fennel plant are edible, the bulb is most prevalent in cooking. Its leaves, essential oils, seeds, and fruit can also be used in various dishes from around the world. The bulb has a texture like celery when consumed raw, but it becomes silkier when roasted.

Advantages

Fennel bulb has a large number of nutrients and offers more than 25% of your daily recommended fiber. It also contains potassium, which helps maintain healthy blood pressure. This onion powder substitute also has Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6, among others, which help regulate free radicals that can result in premature aging.

Disadvantage

As with any whole ingredient, a fennel bulb will need to be prepared before use. That means breaking it down and chopping it up before it can be added to your recipe. It will not have the same flavor as substitutes that contain onion, so you’ll miss out on that layer when choosing it as an alternative. Instead, adding fennel will add a different flavor to the dish and enhance the texture of the meal.

Nutritional breakdown

Celery bulbs

Amount (per 100 g)

% Recommended daily intake

Calories

16 kcal

0.8%

Total fat

0.2 g

0.3%

Saturated fat

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

3 g

1%

Cholesterol

0 g

0%

Salt

80 mg

4%

Protein

0.7 g

1%

Calcium

40 mg

4%

Vitamin B-12

0 ug

0%

Potassium

260 mg

6%

(Based on nutritional information from USDA.)

5. Scallions🌱

Best for: soups, pizza, dips, pork, pasta, and seafood.

Scallions

Overview

Scallions are actually a type of onion that are picked when they are young. They are also known as spring onions and green onions. This vegetable has a white base and a long stalk of green that looks a lot like a chive. Scallions are part of the Allium family, which also includes leeks, garlic, onions, and shallots. These vegetables develop leaves that are dark green and resemble hollow tubes.

Advantages

One of the things that sets scallions apart is that both the green and white parts can be used in recipes. In addition to that, scallions can be consumed raw as well as cooked. They have a sweeter flavor than typical onions and are more potent than chives. This is why the tops of scallions can be substituted for chives. As such, a scallion can be an onion powder substitute, as well as a chive substitute.

Disadvantages

While scallions are a type of onion, they do not have the same exact flavor and are best used in dishes that are a bit sweeter. Since these are fresh vegetables, you also cannot store them as long before they go bad. In general, scallions will stay fresh for around three days in your refrigerator.

Nutritional breakdown

Scallions

Amount (per 100 g)

% Recommended daily intake

Calories

32 kcal

2%

Total fat

0.2 g

0.3%

Saturated fat

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

7 g

3%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

16 mg

0.8%

Protein

2 g

4%

Calcium

72 mg

7%

Vitamin B-12

0 ug

0%

Potassium

276 mg

7%

(Based on nutritional information from USDA.)

6. Garlic salt🌱

Best for: pasta, soup, casseroles, stock, and dips.

Garlic salt

Overview

We talked about garlic salt above, but another option in a similar vein is garlic salt. Instead of combining onion powder and salt, this ingredient mixes the salt with garlic powder. In most cases, it is made up of two to three times salt as there is garlic powder. For a recipe where you need additional salt and don’t mind the flavor profile of garlic, this is an excellent onion powder substitute.

Advantages

This is one of the more convenient choices and is likely to be in your kitchen already. It is a powder, so it will create the same kind of texture as onion powder would. It can be used in any dish that needs a touch of salt and has a savory taste. It can also be used for dry rubs with other seasonings like black pepper, thyme, cumin, brown sugar, and marjoram.

Disadvantages

As a powder that includes a great deal of salt, this might not be the best choice for anyone on a low-sodium diet. While you may only be eating a small amount, you can see from the nutrition facts below that it can add up quickly. Garlic salt also does not have the same flavor as onion powder, so it may not create the right flavor for some dishes.

Nutritional breakdown

Garlic salt

Amount (per 100 g)

% Recommended daily intake

Calories

0 kcal

0%

Total fat

0 g

0%

Saturated fat

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

0 g

0%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

35000 mg

1842%

Protein

0 g

0%

Calcium

0 mg

0%

Vitamin B-12

0 ug

0%

Potassium

0 mg

0%

(Based on nutritional information from USDA.)

7. Shallots🌱

Best for: casseroles, stir-fries, soups, salads, and sauces.

Shallots

Overview

Shallots are a variety of onion which also have many similarities to garlic. Their color can range from a bright red to a golden brown, but they have a white interior with some green hues. Shallots are a unique ingredient that can be used fresh or pickled for a different type of flavor and texture. They offer a taste that is similar to onion but slightly on the milder side.

Advantages

An advantage of substituting onion powder with shallots is that they can be used in a wide range of dishes. Many people appreciate their distinct flavor and the fact that they are readily available. Shallots also have plenty of nutrients and may be even more healthy than onions. They contain everything from fiber to protein, potassium, manganese, and various vitamins that keep the body healthy.

Disadvantages

This is another situation where the onion flavor is present but not as intense as it would be in onion powder. Those who want a robust onion taste may want to add more shallots or go for another substitute instead. In addition, while rare, some people have allergies to shallots and other onions, which rules them out as an option.

Nutritional breakdown

Shallots

Amount (per 100 g)

% Recommended daily intake

Calories

72 kcal

3%

Total fat

0.1 g

0.2%

Saturated fat

0 g

0%

Carbohydrates

17 g

6%

Cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Salt

12 mg

0.6%

Protein

3 g

6%

Calcium

37 mg

4%

Vitamin B-12

0 ug

0%

Potassium

334 mg

8%

(Based on nutritional information from USDA.)

The Bottom Line

Onion powder is a kitchen staple, but there are many alternatives to use if you run out or prefer an ingredient with more health benefits. While none of the substitutions are going to have the exact same taste or texture as onion powder, many of them come very close. Others offer unique features that might make them shine in certain dishes where onion powder would not.

Top vegan picks

The good news for vegans is that all the ingredients on this list are free of animal products and perfectly acceptable to consume. Our first recommendation for the best alternative for a vegan is dehydrated onion flakes since they share many similarities to onion powder. However, fresh onion is also an excellent choice, especially when wanting to add additional fresh vegetables to a dish.

Top healthy picks

The reality is that most powdered, flaked, and dehydrated substitutes are not going to have the nutritional value of fresh food. Because of that, we would recommend choosing fennel bulbs for the best health benefits. Shallots and scallions can also make for a good choice as they have added vitamins and minerals compared to garlic or onion powders and salts.

Top convenient picks

If your top priority is convenience, you have a good few options to work with. Dehydrated onion flakes, onion or garlic salt, and garlic powder are typically the most convenient. There’s no preparation involved in the slightest. All you have to do is take the container, sprinkle some into your recipe, and finish your cooking. The vegetable alternatives all take more effort to introduce into a recipe.

Top convincing picks

The most convincing onion powder substitute on this list would have to be onion flakes. They have the exact same flavor as onion powder but are simply in a flake form instead of a powder. If texture is a concern with using the flakes, onion salt can do the job, but it will add an extra dose of sodium into your meal. While other ingredients can substitute for onion powder, these two are the most convincing when you want the dish to taste exactly like you’d expect it to with onion powder.

Sources:

https://www.masterclass.com/articles/what-is-fennel-benefits-of-fennel-plus-easy-recipe-and-cooking-ideas

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-are-scallions-1807053

https://www.mccormick.com/articles/mccormick/flavor-story-garlic-salt

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/shallots.html

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