Garlic is one of the world’s most popular seasonings. Its flavor is almost universally beloved but it does have a relatively short shelf life, which means that you may not keep a lot of it around. If you find yourself out of it, here are some good garlic substitutes:
Your best bet: Garlic scapes
The scapes are the garlic plant’s green stalks. Garlic scapes look like a combination of pole beans and scallions. They are typically removed from garlic bulbs to ensure that they grow as large as possible.
Garlic scapes offer a mellower flavor than you would get from fresh garlic, but the flavor is still strong enough to be a good substitute. The garlic scape taste is a slightly more herbaceous version of the garlic flavor with a hint of onion. Garlic scapes are commonly used in Asian dishes but work well in some Western applications.
One downside of garlic scapes is that they are not particularly easy to find in most Western-style grocery stores even when they are in season. Garlic scape season is toward the end of spring. However, you may be able to find them during that period in well-stocked Asian supermarkets.
Another potential issue has to do with how the garlic scapes look. They do not look a lot like garlic cloves which may be an issue in some recipes.
A decent second choice: Garlic powder
Garlic powder works as a substitute for fresh garlic because it consists of garlic. It is garlic that has been dried and ground to a powder. It is great because it has a longer shelf life than fresh garlic and provides many of the flavors that you would get from fresh garlic.
Garlic powder is better for recipes where fresh garlic would be difficult or impossible to use. For example, you can add it to a dry rub where it will be easier to distribute over the surface of the meat or you can use it to flavor popcorn. It works well in dishes where the strong aroma and flavor of fresh garlic are not important.
Garlic powder’s flavor is not the same as the fresh garlic flavor. Instead of the pungent earthiness, you can expect a mellower nuttiness. As a result, you will want to avoid using it in recipes where garlic is supposed to be the star of the show. Unlike fresh garlic, it has no moisture so it is virtually impossible to sauté it without it burning.
In a pinch: Minced garlic
The jarred minced garlic on grocery store shelves can be a decent substitute for fresh garlic since it is mostly the same thing, just sold in a shelf-stable format. Jarred garlic can last unopened for a long time in your cupboard and it will continue to be usable after being opened as long as you keep it refrigerated. Use it in any recipe that requires fresh garlic.
Jarred minced garlic will not give you the same assertive flavor profile and aroma that you would get from fresh garlic. It may contain preservatives like citric acid to help keep it usable for longer. Some minced garlic is heated during the production process, which destroys much of its nutritional value.
Garlic chives are sometimes called Chinese chives and belong to the Allium family just like garlic. They are similar to regular chives — sometimes called onion chives — except for the fact that their leaves are flat like a blade of grass instead of being hollow like the chive leaves. Garlic chives have a strong garlic flavor that makes them a workable garlic substitute.