Celery flakes offer the perfect compromise between fresh celery and celery seed. You get the celery flavor and something closer to the appearance of the vegetable. If having both of those qualities is important to the success of your dish, you will want to keep some celery flakes in your spice cabinet. If you find that you need it but are out and unable to get some in time, consider using one of the very effective substitutes for celery flakes listed below.
Your best bet: Celery seeds
Celery seed comes from the same plant that provides celery flakes. The Latin name for celery is Apium graveolens. The Apium part of the name signifies that it is a member of the carrot The graveolens part means smelling. It is so named because of its pungent aroma. All parts of the celery plant are pungent, this includes the leaves along with the stems and the seeds. This means that you will get a very similar flavor profile with celery seeds as you would with the flakes. The seeds are particularly pungent due to their high concentration of essential oils. In addition, they have the advantage of a long shelf life.
Note that there will be a cosmetic difference as celery seeds are small and very dark, while celery powder can be in large pieces and will be a drab olive green. Depending on the dish, the difference between the two may be very noticeable; however, it may not necessarily be a drawback.
A decent second choice: Celery powder
Celery powder consists of ground celery seed. This gives it a finer texture, which means that you will not have visible flakes of celery in your dish. It is better able to disappear into a soup or sauce without the need to grind it further. If you grind the celery seeds yourself, you may only need to use a small amount to get the same concentration of celery flavor. Freshly ground spices tend to be more potent than pre-ground spices.
To keep celery powder from overwhelming your dish. start with half as much celery powder as the amount that your recipe indicates for celery flakes. You can then increase to taste if necessary.
In a pinch: Celery salt
Celery salt consists of ground celery seed blended with salt. This gives you a versatile pair of flavors that work well in many of the same savory dishes that would use celery flakes. Celery salt is a convenient way to add both flavors to your dish, but comes with the drawback—you won’t able adjust the level of one flavor without also adjusting the level of the other. For example, you cannot give your dish a more intense celery flavor without also making it saltier.
Because there is a limit to how much celery salt you can add to your dish, add it to taste when using it in place of celery flakes.
Fresh celery contains the same savory, herbal flavor that you get from any other part of the plant. The fact that fresh celery contains all of its moisture means that it is bulkier. Because it has not been dehydrated or ground into flakes, it also has long fibers that may be noticeable in many dishes. It has the big benefit of providing both the appearance and flavor of celery.