Substitutes for fresh garlic busy cooks can rely on

It’s a hassle to peel fresh garlic. But you can’t skip garlic in a recipe because it delivers a lot of flavor to your dish. That’s why it’s critical to learn about substitute for fresh garlic and when you might want to use them.

Whatever shortcuts exist to make home cooking easier is worth exploring. I’m not a purist when it comes to cooking. After all, do I grow my vegetables? Do I cast my pots and pans? Do I sew my aprons?

Sometimes shortcuts are what get my friends cooking like Lindsay who swears by garlic powder. That’s why I decided to dive into the world of garlic substitutes. Let’s see if we can learn how to use these substitutes to shortcut the garlic prep process.

What are the different forms of garlic?

There are countless forms of garlic you can purchase at most grocery stores in the U.S. Here are five common varieties that you can purchase from most grocery stores, including Trader Joe’s (where we bought our samples), Safeway, and Whole Foods.

  • Fresh garlic bulbs
  • Peeled garlic cloves
  • Minced garlic
  • Frozen garlic pulp
  • Garlic powder

Let’s learn about each form of garlic and how they compare as substitutes for fresh garlic.

What is fresh raw garlic?

When you think garlic, you’re probably picturing a fresh bulb of raw garlic in your mind. Beyond drying and aging, fresh garlic hasn’t been processed. And there are many different varieties of garlic to enjoy.

How do you use fresh garlic?

To use fresh garlic, you separate out the cloves, peel them, and chop/press/mince according to your needs. If roasting garlic or stuffing whole cloves, you can peel them and use them according to your recipe.

RELATED: Learn how to chop and how to prep fresh garlic.

How long does fresh garlic last?

A garlic bulb can last for months in a cool, dry cupboard or pantry out of direct sunlight.

What are fresh peeled garlic cloves?

Peeled garlic is fresh raw garlic with the paper-thin skin removed. It comes in a plastic resealable bag (like at Costco) and may be further packaged into smaller baggies (like at Trader Joe’s), or on a foam tray (like at a Korean supermarket).

How do you use fresh peeled garlic cloves?

To use peeled garlic, you simply chop/press/mince according to your needs. If roasting garlic or stuffing whole cloves, you use the peeled cloves without extra preparation.

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How long do fresh peeled garlic cloves last?

Refrigerated peeled garlic lasts about 2 weeks before signs of mold if you put your germ-filled hand directly into the bag to grab a handful of cloves. That’s why Trader Joe’s stores its peeled garlic in smaller vacuum-sealed bags.

Grouping the peeled cloves into individual packets like Trader Joe’s keeps the garlic from going moldy prematurely compared to Costco’s approach where the peeled cloves float free in a 3-pound bag. If your bag of peeled garlic doesn’t separate the cloves, I recommend using a clean spoon to scoop out the cloves you need. Avoid putting your hand directly in the bag.

TIP: Most peeled garlic packaging shows a “best before date”. If buying bulk peeled garlic, put a small portion of the garlic cloves into a glass container for immediate use. Freeze the rest in the bag and defrost as needed to avoid your garlic spoiling.

What is frozen crushed garlic?

Frozen crushed garlic is made from fresh cloves that have been peeled, crushed, and frozen into ice cube-style plastic trays. We know that allicin is activated when garlic is crushed, so there may be a concern that crushed garlic will lose its flavor. Will freezing help crushed garlic retain its desired flavor? See the results below to find out.

How do you use frozen crushed garlic?

To use, you push on the tray to eject a cube of garlic, much like how you pop an ice cube out of its tray. You’ll need to do conversion calculations. The lid’s instructions say 1 cube is the equivalent to 1 regular clove of garlic. After defrosting, the garlic is ready to use. You can defrost it in the microwave if your dish doesn’t require cooking. Otherwise, put it directly in the soup pot, saucepan, or baking tray.

The main downside is that you cannot roast frozen crushed garlic or use it in a recipe that calls for whole cloves, like Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic from the NYTimes or Alton Brown’s 40-Clove Chicken Recipe.

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How long does frozen crushed garlic last?

Frozen crushed garlic lasts a long time in the freezer, especially thanks to its carefully sealed packaging and therefore protection from freezer burn. The package of crushed garlic we purchased in 2019 has an expiration date of 2021.

What are the ingredients in frozen crushed garlic?

The ingredients of Dorot Gardens crushed garlic are garlic, water, canola oil, and sea salt.

What is minced garlic in water?

Minced garlic is fresh garlic that has been coarsely or finely chopped. You can find minced garlic in water or oil. Trader Joe’s minced garlic comes in water with citric acid as a preservative. The minced garlic is stored in a glass jar and should live in the fridge after opening.

How do you use minced garlic?

To use, you simply measure out the quantity your recipe calls for, doing quick conversion calculations. Trader Joe’s version suggests that 1/2 teaspoon equals 1 clove of garlic. No peeling, defrosting, or even chopping required. (You can see why Katharina relies on minced garlic. Who wouldn’t?)

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How long does minced garlic last?

The main downside of minced garlic is the same as frozen crushed garlic with the additional problem of the citric acid. It adds an extra “sharpness”, according to Alex. Let’s see if he can distinguish the minced garlic in the garlic bread.

A jar of minced garlic lasts longer than peeled garlic or probably even fresh garlic thanks to the citric acid preservatives.

The ingredients of my Trader Joe’s minced garlic are garlic, water, and citric acid.

What is garlic powder?

Finally, the lazy cook’s best friend. Garlic powder requires no preparation other than measuring the quantity required. It is made from garlic that has been dehydrated and crushed until it becomes a fine powder. I’ve always considered garlic powder in its own category. It smells sweeter, like caramelized garlic. It’s just as flavorful as fresh garlic, but I’ve never considered using them interchangeably.

How do you use garlic powder?

To use, you simply measure out the quantity you need, like minced garlic. The spice jar’s instructors say 1/2 teaspoon is equivalent to 1 clove of garlic.

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How long does garlic powder last?

The biggest upside to garlic powder is that it requires the least amount of effort and preparation compared to the other 4 forms of garlic covered in this article. Its downside is that it doesn’t taste the same as the other garlic forms, and therefore it may not be a direct substitute in recipes. Another way to think about garlic powder is that you can use it in your recipe, just don’t expect the same flavor as fresh garlic. It will be just as fragrant, but it’s a different flavor.

Another advantage of garlic powder is its lack of water, compared to frozen crushed garlic or minced garlic. Garlic powder can blend with other spices to make a dry rub and homemade spice blends.

Note: I don’t remember growing up with these many forms of garlic in New Zealand. Maybe the U.S. has more ready-to-use forms of garlic compared to other countries due to the pressure for convenience.

As a recap, here’s the list of garlic types from the most effort to the least effort required to use: 

  • Fresh garlic bulb
  • Peeled garlic
  • Frozen crushed garlic
  • Minced garlic
  • Garlic powder

NOTE: There are many more forms of garlic, including chopped garlic in oil, chopped roasted garlic, and crushed garlic in oil. We focused on the above five types of garlic because they are the most common and available in almost all grocery stores. Plus, I’m confident that minced garlic in a jar will generalize to chopped garlic in a jar.

Although this article outlines the different forms of garlic, you will want to know whether you can tell the difference between them. To answer this question, check out the Garlic Substitute Test Taste.


FAQs for garlic substitutes

What is garlic salt vs. garlic powder?

Garlic salt is usually made of salt, garlic powder, and an anti-caking agent.

When do I use garlic powder vs. garlic salt?

You can use garlic salt in a recipe that calls for garlic powder. Remember to reduce any extra salt called for in the recipe to make up for salt already in the garlic salt.

You can use garlic powder in place of garlic salt. Just add extra salt to make up for the missing salt in the garlic salt.

When do I use roasted garlic powder vs. garlic powder?

Roasted garlic powder can taste more caramelized. You can use roasted garlic powder and garlic powder interchangeably, with the same measurements.

When do I use garlic vs. garlic powder? Can I substitute garlic powder for garlic? Is garlic powder as good as raw garlic?

As our taste test shows, garlic powder tastes surprisingly similar to fresh garlic. You can use fresh garlic and garlic powder as substitutes for each other.

However, I would be careful when using garlic powder in stir fries. If you add the garlic powder to hot oil, it may burn easily. I would recommend fresh, peeled, or minced garlic for stir fries.

How much fresh garlic is equal to garlic powder?

Refer to the Garlic Substitutes Measurement Conversion Chart at the top of this article.

READ NEXT: Taste Test: Should you feel guilty about using fresh garlic substitutes?

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About Anna Rider

Hi! I'm Anna, a food writer who documents kitchen experiments on GarlicDelight.com with the help of my physicist and taste-testing husband, Alex. I have an insatiable appetite for noodles 🍜 and believe in "improv cooking".

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