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Garlic powder & onion powder vs garlic & onion

A lot of recipes call for garlic or onion powder (or salt). I haven't had them in my pantry for maybe 20 years. On the other hand, I ALWAYS have onions and fresh garlic.

Am I missing something? If so, what brands should I look for? I have used Lawrys Season salt forever, so is it the same difference? Am I making something out of nothing?

What do you think?

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  1. I do have both garlic and onion powder in my pantry, but I use them only in dry rubs. If a recipe calls for either of these two ingredients and it's not a rub I would not make the recipe, I'd find another recipe using the fresh stuff.

    1 Reply
    1. re: janniecooks

      I'll just use the fresh stuff. I don't keep that stuff around. You may be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

      We're lucky in my neck of the woods to have a chain called Bulk Barn. They sell bulk food items and dried herbs and spices are among them. I'll take a measuring cup there and measure out what I need to make rubs and buy only that much. Take home, empty bags into a work bowl and combine.


    2. There is a difference in flavor between the dried and the fresh and some dishes benefit from each.

      1. Any brand will do. Seasoned salt is different - first, it is salt, and typically has many seasonings, so it's not a substitute for pure onion or garlic powder. These powders are useful, not only in dry rubs, but for other purposes because they don't scorch easily. Dehydrated onion is also extremely useful - it is pre-diced and is noticeably even-toned in flavor. I love me my fresh onion and fresh garlic, but I've learned that the powders and dehydrated forms are excellent for the purposes for which they are suited, and a good cook should embrace them for that.

        1. I use garlic and onion powder only in dry items such rubs or seasoned flour. I would also stay away from garlic and onion salts. That gives you control on the amount of salt you're using

          1. I use both fresh and dried onion/garlic. Sometimes in the same dish. One is not a substitute for the other, however.

            Gumbo for example, I use both fresh onion and garlic, I also use a spice blend that contains dried onion and garlic.

            1. I too keep no garlic or onion powder in the house. There is nothing I make that calls for it and if a recipe needs it I either substitute fresh or look for a different recipe....I don't do dry rubs.

              1. I use garlic and onion powder in barbecue sauces, enchilada and taco spice mixes, dry rubs for spareribs. And also meatballs.

                These are the uses for these ingredientses. You get alot more concentrated flavour, and you exclude the volume, water content and such from the fresh versions.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Ramius

                  I would debate whether the dried powders supply better flavor however. And in meatballs, the onions are there to provide volume, moisture and flavor...I consider them an essential ingredient. To each his/her own.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    I find that raw onion ruins most meatball recipes. I don't use onion powder in them either though.

                    1. re: melpy

                      I've neve used an onion--fresh or powdered--in my meatballs. Fresh garlic only.

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        I guess it would depend on the meatball. I use grated fresh onion in my Swedish meatballs, and would NEVER use garlic in them.

                        1. re: wyogal

                          Sorry! That is so true wyogal. I was being ethnocentric. I was referring to Italian meatballs.

                      2. re: melpy

                        I was taught to make them by my Italian-American MIL. They include the onions, lots of parsley and Romano as well as pine nuts, fresh bread crumbs, eggs etc.. They all get eaten when I serve them.so don't think they're too bad ;)

                    2. re: Ramius

                      +1 to Ramius's remark.

                      I am the same - I will use garlic powder or onion powder to stretch taco seasoning with some cumin powder. I do NOT use it for anything else. I mainly use the fresh stuff. I don't like dry herbs much either.

                    3. I do have granulated garlic, and dehydrated onion flakes, but I never use onion powder, I don't like it at all.

                      1. There is a place for both. Shunning garlic and onion powder because they are "prepared" items
                        is another example of CH elitist uffishness. It is almost like saying I never have raisins in my kitchen, just fresh grapes. The flavor tones from onion powder are not the same as raw (or cooked) onions. Dried garlic is much more muted than fresh and can be distributed at the last minute in the dish- say you forgot to put garlic in a soup that was already finished.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: LRunkle

                          I don't use them because I've never felt the need to since I'm happy with the results I get using fresh and frankly would have no idea how to use the others. I don't see how that is elitism. I know I eat many condiments that have those powders in them and that's fine, they're just not part of my cooking ingredients--and neither is seasoned salt or lemon pepper.

                          1. re: escondido123

                            "...and frankly would have no idea how to use the others."

                            Do you use chili powder in recipes? Say in a dry rub? Onion and garlic powders are similar and can be used for similar purposes. All they consist of is ground and dried onion and garlic. They are wonderful in dry rubs and seasoned bread crumbs because they do not burn like fresh garlic and onion do in those applications.

                            1. re: ttoommyy

                              No, I don't use chili powder in recipes and I don't do dry rubs.

                          2. re: LRunkle

                            as I said, I do use granulated garlic and dehydrated onion, both have their uses, but I really do not like onion powder, I only came to realize that in this past year ~~ not at all elitist. And they don't sub for fresh. I don't make rubs either.

                          3. Dried Garlic powder and onion powder have their place and use. I have seen these products in extremely fine powder form and coarser form. I recommend the coarser "granulated garlic" even though I'll call it garlic powder because it's easier to say.

                            1. Not using them is not elitist, turning your nose up at their use is.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: LRunkle

                                The question is do you know how it is made? I don't consider myself a food elitist, but I try to avoid foods that have been processed. In the case of garlic powder and onion powder I have always avoided them where possible simply because I didn't know how they were made and when I don't know what it is I try not to eat it.
                                I'm not being elitist, I'm making a personal food choice.
                                It turns out a quick google search yields lots of links on how to make garlic powder at home because most non organic commercial versions have binders and anti caking agents added. All things in moderation of course, if you have the odd BBQ rub with a bit powdered stuff in it maybe that is ok, but as for cooking with something that is processed I would prefer not, and would actually go so far as saying that there is also nothing elitist about suggesting others shouldn't either.

                                1. re: delys77

                                  I use garlic powder in making a cajun style seasoning mix.... with cayenne pepper, paprika, etc. Use it often when making chili and soups.

                                  1. re: delys77

                                    How garlic powder is made: Peel garlic, slice garlic, dehydrate garlic, pulverize. The larger grains are granulated garlic. The finer grains are sold as garlic powder or mixed with salt to make garlic salt.

                                    When you drive through Gilroy and smell garlic, it's not because of the fresh garlic drying in the fields. It's the dehydration ovens of the factory you pass on Hwy 156.

                                    I haven't seen Onion powder being made but I imagine the process is the same. The "dehydrated onion flake" is the larger product and onion powder the finer product.

                                    There are 3 kinds of garlic powder in my shared kitchen right now and all of them list their ingredients as: garlic. No fillers or anti-caking agents. And the old ones do have problems with caking especially if you try to sprinkle over a steaming pot. So give it a shot. It's basically just dried garlic / onion. Same as dried thyme, dried oregano, etc.

                                2. I find that using onion and garlic powders give me heartburn. Granted, I've really only noticed it when using the cheap stuff. I do like to use dried onion flakes, though. It does give a different layer of flavor than fresh onions. I probably would try granulated garlic. though.
                                  Fresh onion and garlic does not give me heartburn like the powdered forms.

                                  1. My BFF's mom gave me her chip dip recipe years ago -and it calls for both dried onion and garlic. The base is equal parts ( + or - ) cream cheese and sour cream. I tried making it with fresh grated onion and garlic, thinking that would be even better, but no - it just got wet and too raw tasting. Sure, I could saute the onions and garlic first, but then it wouldn't be Bernice's recipe anymore.
                                    I don't use either of them often, but sometimes tradition will out.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: jmcarthur8

                                      dehydrated onion and garlic are indeed far superior to fresh for dips.

                                      1. re: Karl S

                                        I have to disagree there. If you mix fresh garlic with sour cream, salt and pepper, a teaspoon of oil and a little sugar, that´s the best dip you can make!

                                        I also forgot to mention FRIED CHICKEN. You use both powders in the flourmix here. And also I want to add, that onion powder is so sweet and good, it is almost like another type of sugar to me.

                                        So when you want roundness to sauces or soups, instead of adding sugar, you can add onion powder.

                                        1. re: Ramius

                                          It depends on the garlic. Fresh garlic varies in quality more than dried - it can be sublime...or bitter.

                                          1. re: Ramius

                                            what brand of onion powder do you use? I love the idea of sweet onion powder since I love, love, love sweet onions!

                                          2. re: Karl S

                                            I don't eat a lot of dips but I was at my brother's house last night and he made an onion dip using fresh, caramelized onions. It was far better than any I've had using dehydrated onions or onion powder.

                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                              I don't like caramelized onions in dip - too sweet (I am sensitive to things that are too sweet).

                                        2. I love Lawry's Garlic salt and have always kept it on hand. I use it in meatloaf and chili and add it to mashed potatoes. In my youth I put onion salt on a fried egg every morning - grossed out a few room mates. The powders are another story. Very big in cajun cooking and the first ingredients I use when I make my own shake and bake chicken coating

                                          1. Nobody mentioned pizza? I have to have garlic powder on my pizza, and fresh garlic isn't remotely the same.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: joonjoon

                                              Garlic powder on NY-style "pizza parlor" pizza sure; but not on brick oven artisanal-type pizzas here in the States or god forbid on ANY pizza in Italy. :)

                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                Of course - I'm talking about places with the standard accompaniments of garlic/chili/oregano/cheese. :)

                                            2. I am a huge user/consumer of fresh garlic, shallots and onions. I grow my own and hesitate to use store bought when my supply runs out (short growing season) I do a fall planting as well in an attempt to expand yield.
                                              Having said that... garlic and onion powders are most useful in my pantry..for flour dredges, dry rubs, wet marinades etc.
                                              For an all around dry rub that suits just about everything ..I always look toward Ted Reader's "Bone Dust" If there are ingredients you don't favor ..omit them. i.e I leave out the curry.
                                              The recipe makes alot...and can be cut in half or a quarter or whatever...but I just find I have to make it more often.

                                              1. I'm just lazy. For seasoning meat, it's onion and garlic powder all the way, because they're no mess no fuss... but for actual COOKING, I use fresh (or even both if I think it needs a bit more pep). They also make super-fast garlic bread without messing around with the fresh stuff - butter, sprinkle, heat, done.

                                                1. I never used dried/dehydrated/powdered garlic or onion until a few years ago when I tasted at a friend's house the BEST garlic bread I have ever eaten and asked the cook how it was done. She said she mixed Lawry's garlic powder with soft butter and slathered it on. I bought a jar of Lawry's the next day and use it often and not just for garlic bread. As LRunkle says, "it can be be distributed at the last minute in the dish- say you forgot to put garlic in a soup that was already finished"

                                                  Only last fall did I buy my first jar of dehydrated onion flakes, at the suggestion of a visiting from FL (very good cook) daughter. She said I'd find it not just a time-saver but actually tastier in some dishes. I'm still experimenting to see what its highest and best use is, but I've certainly been pleased w/anything I've used it in.

                                                  We use dried herbs, dried fruit, dried chiles....Seems rather silly to go all sniffy re: dried garlic & onion.

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                                                  1. I sometimes like to add some garlic powder and salt to the pasta water that I am using for cooking, but the pasta must be cooked without a lid and watched fairly closely or it will boil over. I also sometimes mix it with some ingredients that I will be using for pre-coating the turkey for baking.
                                                    There is little reason to use dried or powdered anything except for convenience. It's good to have dried garlic, onion or herbs on hand when there is snow on the garden and the grocery store is not handy.

                                                    1. I forgot...I also use garlic and onion powders in my homemade sazon (dry Spanish seasoning). You couldn't make it without. In addition to the powders, I mix kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin and oregano. I use the sazon to season a lot of different meats, add to the liquid when I am making rice and numerous other ways.