What can I substitute for onion powder?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “What can I substitute for onion powder?” with an in-depth analysis of the onion powder, the possible substitutes for onion powder, along with the required content of these substituted products.

What can I substitute for onion powder?

We can have many different substitutes for onion powder which include dehydrated onion, onion flakes, jarred minced onion, granulated onion, fresh onion, onion salt, onion paste, chopped chives, scallions, shallots, leeks, chopped celery or fennel bulb, celery seed, and garlic powder.

Despite the achievement in production technology and availability of good varieties of onion, the post harvest losses during storage is still an ailing cause which leads to significant qualitative and quantitative losses during storage upto 25-30 % (1). 

Substitutes for onion powder

Some of the substitutes for onion powder are as follows:

Garlic powder

As onion and garlic both are used hand in hand. Both ingredients are almost used together in any of the recipes. Garlic powder has a different but more effective or stronger taste as compared to onion powder. 

Garlic is a particularly rich source of organosulfur compounds, which are thought to be responsible for its flavor and aroma, as well as its potential health benefits. These biological responses include reduction of risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and cancer, stimulation of immune function, enhanced foreign compound detoxification, radioprotection, restoration of physical strength, resistance to various stresses and potential anti aging effects (2).

To substitute the onion powder, use garlic powder firstly in a small amount then increase it according to your taste or as the recipe calls for.

Onion flakes

Onion flakes are one of the substituted ingredients which are used in place of onion powder when onion powder is shortened or we cannot get any other good substitute for it. 

The flakes of onion can be termed as a dehydrated onion form, which is then ground into a fine powder. These flakes of onion or powdered onion flakes can be used as a substitute in the same ratio as one-to-one. 

Free water is removed from the vegetables during the drying process so that microorganisms do not survive and reproduce. Simultaneously, the solids such as sugar and organic acids are concentrated thereby exerting osmotic pressure to further inhibit the microorganisms. Drying process involves the application of heat to vaporize water and removal of moist air from the dryer (3).

Granulated onion

Granulated onion and onion powder are quite similar in taste and flavour. So, it can be used as an alternative substitute for onion powder. Only the difference between them is that granulated onion is more finely ground into a fine powder as compared to minced onion or onion flakes. 

Onions are generally derived from initial moisture content about 86% (wb) to 7% (wb) or less for efficient storage and processing. Dehydrated onions in the form of flakes or powder are in extensive demand in several parts of the world. Conventionally air dried products tend to be difficult to rehydrate satisfactorily due to structural changes in the product and of indifferent quality due to excessive thermal damage (3).

When we are out of hand for onion powder, then we can go for granulated onion which could be used twice as compared to onion powder. Like, in ratio 1:2 when onion powder is 1 tablespoon, then granulated onion should be 2 tablespoons.

Fresh onion

Onion powder has quite a more concentrated taste and flavour as compared to a fresh onion. So, to make a good substitute for onion powder, fresh onion content should be enhanced like it would be three times more than onion powder. 

Fresh onions are also enriched with a heavy content of water, so by keeping in front this water content of onion we should consider the content of other liquids in our dish. 

Besides adding a delicious taste and flavour, onion serves as a good medicinal compound for cataract, cardiovascular disease and cancer due to its hypocholesterolemic, thrombolitic and antioxidant effects. Several antioxidant compounds, mainly polyphenols such as flavonoids and sulfur-containing compounds, have been described in onion (3).

If we make measurements of both these ingredients, then 1 teaspoon of onion powder should be equal to 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped onion to make fresh onion an adequate substituted product.

Onion salt

Onion salt is another substituted ingredient for onion powder. Onion salt is just a seasoning which is just like garlic salt. Its texture or mixture is just like the content which is extracted from its sounds like a good mixture of granulated onion or onion powder with content of salt.

Onion salt is prepared by mixing 19–20% onion powder with 78% free flowing pulverized refined table salt and 1–2% anti-caking agent which prevents water absorption, and caking, etc (4).

In measurements, the content of substituted onion salt should be equal to the original product onion powder such that in the ratio they must be one and one. But you should be careful with the salted ingredients of onion salt that should be in a reduced amount so that the flavour of the recipe will be balanced.

Onion paste

Onion paste is another substituted product that is a good alternative in recipes like in soups or a compulsory agent of sauces. Onion paste is very easy to make, just chop the onions then blend it well in a blender machine according to your need or desired amount. 

Onion paste can also be frozen in an ice tray from where after freezing we can store them as onion paste cubes in an airlock bag. This is an easy method for using onion paste. 

In content, use a little bit more onion paste in a tablespoon as compared to its original product onion powder. Or we can also add the onion paste in recipes according to our choice or taste.

Industrially, onion paste is obtained from the by-products of the onion processing. It is  a mixture between the solid and the liquid fractions of onion parts and contains a high amount of phenolic compounds, especially quercetin, thus possessing high antiradical efficiency values. It is further pasteurized, sterilized or frozen, in order to extend its shelf life (5). 

Chopped chives

Chopped chives are also a substituted ingredient for onion powder in our recipes. It is mainly used to add onion flavour in recipes, but it is not more called for recipes that require dry spices. This can be used as a representation agent or we can garnish it on the dish with an alternate onion taste.

Chives are Allium species, which includes garlic, onions, leeks and shallots, and is commonly appreciated in Asian dishes. In a study comparing the antioxidant activity of different Allium species, chives were shown to have significantly more potent antioxidants than all the other Allium species, with antioxidant activity values 5.8- to 8.4-fold higher than the weakest antioxidants; onion, bunching onion and leek (6).


Shallots are good ingredients that can be used as an alternative for onion powder. It is a member of the onion family that adds onion taste and flavour to our recipes.

Shallots are greatly appreciated in Europe and some parts of America. Among the phenolic compounds found in shallot, quercetin, the main polyphenol, inhibited platelet aggregation in vivo and in vitro experiments. In a study comparing different Allium species, shallot was one of the most potent species with both biological activities (antiplatelet and antioxidant activities) (6).

Other FAQs about Onions that you may be interested in.

How to counteract too much onion in a recipe?

Can you eat the green sprouts from onions?

Can you eat onion stalks?


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “What can I substitute for onion powder?” with an in-depth analysis of the onion powder, the possible substitutes for onion powder, along with the required content of these substituted products.


  1. Kumar, Vinay, Sharma S. Neeraj, and Narashans Alok Sagar. Post harvest management of fungal diseases in onion—a review. Int J Curr Microbiol App Sci, 2015, 4, 737-52.
  2. Mariam, M. Bi Bi, and U. C. Devi. Chemical and shelf life analysis of dry garlic powder: a golden herb. Int J Agric Food Sci Technol, 2016, 7, 1-6.
  3. Mitra, Jayeeta, S. áL Shrivastava, and P. S. Rao. Onion dehydration: a review. J food sci technol, 2012, 49, 267-277.
  4. Peter, Kuruppacharil V., ed. Handbook of herbs and spices: volume 3. Woodhead publishing, 2006.  
  5. Roldán, Eduvigis, et al. Characterisation of onion (Allium cepa L.) by-products as food ingredients with antioxidant and antibrowning properties. Food Chem, 2008, 108, 907-916.
  6. Beretta, Hebe Vanesa, et al. Relationships between bioactive compound content and the antiplatelet and antioxidant activities of six allium vegetable species. Food technol biotechnol, 55, 266.