This unique ingredient is hard to replace, but there are a few options! Here’s the best garlic substitute to use in all your cooking.

Garlic substitute

Making a recipe but don’t have garlic? Garlic is an essential ingredient in many world cuisines, from Italian to Indian. It’s a member of the onion family with onions, shallots, leeks and chives. Its pungent savory flavor is warm and earthy…and hard to describe in words!

Garlic is a very unique ingredient that’s difficult to replace. If you’re making a recipe with garlic in the title, like Roasted Garlic or Garlic Mashed Potatoes, it’s absolutely essential. But if it’s a backup ingredient and you need a quick fix in the middle of a recipe? We’ve got you. Here’s the best garlic substitute! Keep in mind, what to use depends on the specific recipe.

Best garlic substitute

1. Garlic powder or garlic flakes (sauces, soups).

A good garlic substitute to mimic the flavor? Garlic powder, if you have it on hand. Sure, it’s not quite like the magic of fresh garlic: but it can add that savory essence in cooked dishes. Try it in sauces, soups, and stews. Garlic powder is probably already part of your spice arsenal. Garlic flakes are more unique: they’re dehydrated pieces of minced garlic best known for their use in Everything Bagel seasoning. Here are the ratios to follow:

  • Substitute ¼ teaspoon garlic powder for 1 fresh garlic clove.
  • Substitute ½ teaspoon garlic flakes for 1 fresh garlic clove.

What about jarred minced garlic? We don’t love this as a garlic substitute: it has an odd aftertaste and just doesn’t quite do the job (in our opinion). If you must use it, you can use ½ teaspoon jarred minced garlic to replace 1 fresh garlic clove. Just don’t tell us you did!

2. Chives (pasta, mashed potatoes, vegetables).

Another good garlic substitute? Chives. Chives have a light onion-y garlic flavor that evokes the savory scent of garlic. They’re part of the same plant family as garlic! It’s not perfect, but it’s close. This works well in a pasta with fresh garlic, mashed potatoes, and other vegetable dishes. Here’s the ratio to follow:

  • Substitute 1 tablespoon minced chives for 1 fresh garlic clove.

3. Shallot

Another good garlic substitute? Shallots. Shallots also have a onion-y garlic flavor that can evokes the scent of garlic. Like chives, they’re also part of the same plant family as garlic! It’s not perfect, but again: it’s close. Here’s the ratio to follow:

  • Substitute 1 tablespoon minced shallot for 1 fresh garlic clove.

4. Cumin (in a pinch).

A last ditch replacement for cooked dishes like soups, stews and sauces? Cumin. This is not a flavor replacement for garlic! But the complexity that it adds to recipes can mimic the complexity of garlic. Use this only in a pinch. Here’s the ratio to follow:

  • Substitute ⅛ teaspoon cumin for 1 fresh garlic clove.

Here are some of our favorite garlic recipes:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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