Need a substitute for onion powder? Here are 15 easy stand-ins, instructions to make your own, plus delicious recipe ideas!
Onion powder is a common seasoning and flavor agent found in most spice sets and kitchens across America. It is used for many types of cuisine to add a depth of flavor to savory dishes.
So, what do you when when you’re fresh out and need to start cooking?
Here are several easy ways to substitute for onion powder, in a pinch!
Common Onion Powder Substitutes
Onion powder is made from dehydrated onion that has been finely ground into a powder. It is often a backup to more dominant flavors in a dish, but would still be missed if omitted. It’s also a great alternative for those who don’t like fresh onions (like me!).
Here are some common substitutes that may already be in your pantry and are readily available in stores.
1. Onion Flakes
Onion flakes are a great substitute for onion powder. These flakes are simply dehydrated onion that hasn’t been ground into a powder. You can keep the flakes whole or grind them with a mortar and pestle for a 1:1 substitute.
If keeping whole, substitute about 1 tablespoon per 1 teaspoon onion powder (see the conversions later in this post).
2. Jarred Minced Onion
Jarred minced onion is another similar ingredient to onion flakes. Minced onion is dried onion that is more finely ground, but still more coarse than powder.
You can use 1 tablespoon jarred minced onion for 1 teaspoon onion powder, but if you get into higher quantities, you’ll want to use less than you would for onion flakes (see the conversions later in this post).
3. Granulated Onion
Granulated onion and onion powder are very similar. The only difference is that granulated onion is more coarsely ground, but still more fine than onion flakes or minced onion. To substitute, simply double the amount!
4. Fresh Onion
Onion powder has a much more concentrated flavor than fresh onion, so you’ll need a lot more to make an adequate substitute.
1 teaspoon onion powder = 3 tablespoons fresh chopped onion. Fresh onions also have a pretty high water content so you’ll want to make adjustments to the other liquids in your dish as needed.
5. Onion Salt
Onion salt is a similar seasoning to garlic salt. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a mix of onion powder or granulated onion with salt.
You can use it as a 1:1 substitute, but be sure to reduce other salty elements in the dish to keep the flavors balanced.
6. Onion Paste
Onion paste is a great flavor agent for sauces and soups. To make onion paste, simply chop and blend your desired amount of onion in a blender. You can freeze the paste in an ice tray and keep the cubes on hand when you need them.
Use a tablespoon or more of onion paste to stand in for a teaspoon of onion powder, depending on your taste and the dish.
7. Chopped Chives
Chopped chives are not great for recipes that need a dry spice mix, but can be used to add onion flavor in other dishes. Use as a garnish to replace the onion flavor to your taste.
Treat scallions the same way you would chives. They work great to top or finish off a dish that calls for onion powder. They add great flavor but be sure to use them for a dish that doesn’t require dry spice.
Shallots are another member of the onion family that add a great oniony note to dishes. Use them as you would chives and scallions in your favorite dishes.
Leeks are also related to the onion family. This stalky aromatic is more tough then chives, scallions or shallots. You’ll want to use them to replace onion powder in stews or soups which will allow them to cook down or sauté them in a pan.
11. Chopped Celery or Fennel Bulb
While it’s best to choose a substitute from the onion family if you can, celery and fresh fennel bulb can add a similar aromatic flavor, though much less pronounced. If using in a soup or stew, be sure to reduce other liquids to compensate for their high moisture content.
12. Celery Seed
Celery seed is not an exact match in flavor but can add a similar note to a dish without adding more moisture. Use as a 1:1 substitute or to taste.
13. Garlic Powder
Onion powder and garlic powder go hand in hand and are often used together. Garlic powder has a different and stronger flavor than onion powder. To substitute, start with half the amount of onion powder, and increase to your taste.
Make Your Own
Did you know you can make your own onion powder? It’s an easy process but does take a little time. Go for it if you’ve got an hour or so to spare.
- Onions (as many as you like)
- Dehydrator (optional)
- Coffee grinder, food processor, spice mill, or mortar and pestle
PEEL your onions and CHOP them into small pieces with a sharp knife.
If you have a dehydrator machine you can place the chopped onions inside to allow them to dry. Otherwise, SPREAD the onion pieces on a baking sheet and COOK them in the oven at 150 for about an hour. They are ready when completely dry and easily crumble.
Let COOL then GRIND in a coffee grinder, food processor, spice mill or mortar and pestle, until fine. (Coffee grinders produce the best results, just be sure to use a separate grinder from the one you use to brew coffee as the onions can leave a strong taste).
NOTE: Be sure to store your homemade onion powder in an airtight container.
How much onion powder equals one onion?
Here are some easy equivalents (that I adjusted slightly) to keep in the back of your mind:
- Small onion (1/3 cup, chopped) = 1 teaspoon onion powder or 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
- Medium onion (1 cup, chopped) = 1 tablespoon onion powder or 1/4 cup dried onion flakes
- Large onion (1½ cups, chopped) = 1½ tablespoons onion powder or 5 tablespoons dried onion flakes
How much dried minced onion equals one onion?
While dried minced onion and dried onion flakes are similar, minced onion is finer than the coarser onion flakes. You’ll need to slightly adjust the amount you use to replace fresh onion or onion powder.
- Small onion (1/3 cup, chopped) = 1 teaspoon onion powder or 1 tablespoon minced onion
- Medium onion (1 cup, chopped) = 1 tablespoon onion powder or 2 tablespoons minced onion
- Large onion (1½ cups, chopped) = 1½ tablespoons onion powder or 3 tablespoons minced onion
Recipes with Onion Powder
Here are some delicious recipes that call for onion. Use the equivalency guide in this post to try out your homemade onion powder and onion powder substitutes!