Use These Garlic Substitutes When You Don't Have Fresh on Hand

If you just tried to reach for your trusted bulb of garlic only to come up empty, don't panic. Just choose a substitute for minced garlic from our list and keep cooking.

A few bulbs of garlic are a pantry staple for many home cooks. It's a key ingredient to flavor tons of savory recipes. But if you forgot to add it to your grocery list this week and it's almost dinnertime, it's time to grab a garlic substitute from your pantry instead. The good news is there are a couple of different ingredients you can use instead if you're in a pinch, and most of them will last longer than fresh garlic. Even if you don't reach for it very often, it's worth picking up at least one substitute to keep in your pantry if you're ever left without, or find that the head of garlic you just bought isn't as fresh as you thought.

head of garlic broken open into cloves
Jason Donnelly

What Can I Substitute for Garlic?

An easy substitute for minced garlic is jarred minced garlic ($2, Target).

  • For one clove of garlic, use ½ tsp. of jarred minced garlic.

A jar will keep in your fridge for about three months after opening, whereas a peeled, fresh clove will probably only last about one week in the fridge. Plus, it's already minced for you, so in a lot of ways, it's even easier than dicing up a fresh clove. Jarred garlic does tend to have a milder flavor than fresh, so if you like a strong garlic flavor in your food, you might want to consider adding a little extra jarred garlic if you're using it as a substitute.

If you don't have jarred garlic, you probably do have a different version of garlic on your spice rack. So, can you substitute garlic powder for minced garlic? The answer is yes!

  • Use ⅛ tsp. garlic powder for one fresh clove.

Garlic powder is just fresh garlic that's been dried and ground into a fine powder. And since it's a little more concentrated than a clove of garlic, a little bit of powder can go a long way to flavor your dish. As an added bonus, garlic powder should keep for about two to three years, so it's an easy substitute to have around.

Other Garlic Substitutes

Jarred minced garlic and garlic powder will usually be the easiest, most common substitutes, but there are other options. Garlic salt can also work when you're in a bind—use ¾ tsp. garlic salt for one clove of garlic. Since it's a seasoning blend and not pure garlic, you'll also want to reduce the amount of salt in your recipe by at least ½ tsp.

And what about other spices? Can you use onion powder instead of garlic? In some situations, yes. Onion powder is a better substitute for fresh onions than it is for garlic (FYI: use ½ tsp. onion powder for every ½ cup of chopped fresh onions). However, you can use onion powder as a substitute for garlic powder in rubs and other seasoning mixtures. It'll have a slight flavor difference, so for fresh garlic, you're better off using jarred or dried garlic.

Or, if you can't stand peeling fresh garlic cloves, look for already-peeled loose cloves at your grocery store. Most supermarkets carry them, and they can definitely speed up prep if you like using fresh garlic but don't want to take the time to peel the cloves. They're especially handy for recipes that use a ton of garlic, like pickled garlic, or dishes that call for using whole garlic cloves. Just be sure to pick a bag with plump, firm white cloves with no bad spots.

Forgetting to buy fresh garlic doesn't have to ruin your recipe. Just save these substitutions for later (and maybe add a container of garlic powder to your pantry if you don't have one already), and you'll never find yourself in a no-garlic emergency.

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