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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8 Comments

      1. I wouldn’t necessarily try them.
        Except for cumin they’re all alliums which are related and will still trigger a lot of peoples garlic allergies. Lupus doesn’t usually seem to be set off by the amount of canavanine & allacin in onions & the rest, but you should definitely check with a doctor before taking cooking advice like this.

        Many people who cant eat garlic might find fennel(can find a liqorice flavour when raw), celery & celeriac are better substitutes to use, along with cumin, than 2 or 3. 1 isn’t really a substitute, so much as a storage preference.
        [don’t have any garlic? try some other garlic that, by virtue of not having garlic, you will probably have on hand.~]

        Hing/asafoetida is also meant to work well in place of garlic, though it’s a bit harder to get your hands on in a some areas, so i can’t speak to its efficacy. It’s also meant to have a distinct unpleasant odour while raw, but you’d get that with garlic.

      2. Wow, the comments here erase linebreaks to force walls of text & distort what’s being written. Rough stuff.
        There should be one after the first ‘them,’ two between this & many, one between 3 & 1, between preference & don’t, two between hand & hing & one at the beginning of this sentence. [return, return] Also, not in the right place on the page for this, but olive juice sounds like an inspired idea Ren, I’ll be sure to try it.

  1. Thanks for your advice, and I really appreciate that it’s not just “substitute one form of garlic for another.” So what if the reason you have to substitute is not that you don’t HAVE garlic, but that you don’t LIKE garlic? I like all alliums except garlic and ramps.
    Now if the recipe calls for minced garlic, minced shallots are my go-to substitute – I know that. But what if the recipe calls for smashed garlic?

    1. You could still use minced shallot for smashed garlic. You could also do a large diced shallot if you wanted to pull it out before eating (not sure what type of recipe you are looking at).