Garlic has been in use since the time of Ancient Egypt and continues to be one of the most popular ways to flavor food. It is used around the world in virtually every type of cuisine. Fresh garlic is the best option. Not only is it the most potent form of garlic, it is also the healthiest as it has the hydrogen sulfide that provides some of garlic’s most powerful health benefits.
Garlic powder is made with garlic that has been dried and ground. Garlic powder may not be as potent as the seasoning in its fresh form; however, it has the benefits of being easier to work with and having a longer shelf life. Garlic powder should be a staple in your spice cabinet, even if you do not cook every day. If you are out of it for some reason and need an emergency substitute, there are several good options.
Your best bet: Granulated garlic
The difference between these two is more than just semantics; granulated garlic is actually a different product. Both are made from garlic, but one consists of garlic cloves that are ground to make granules; the other consists of garlic cloves ground to a fine powder. The texture difference is akin to the difference between flour and cornmeal. You even have the option of getting roasted garlic granules that have a mellower, nuttier flavor than the unroasted variety.
When using granulated garlic in place of garlic powder, you will have to adjust the quantity used. Garlic powder actually represents more garlic per teaspoon when compared to granulated garlic, so you will have to use more of the granules to get the same amount of flavor. Use twice as much granulated garlic as your recipe requires for garlic powder.
A decent second choice: Garlic salt
Garlic salt is garlic powder with salt added. The ratio is one part garlic combined with three parts salt. This can be convenient since you get to add two seasonings at the same time; however, it also means that you should use it carefully. When using garlic salt, reduce the rest of the salt in your food. You cannot use large quantities of garlic salt as you could easily wind up over-salting your dish even with no other sources of salt.
When using garlic salt in place of garlic powder, use twice the amount of garlic salt but keep an eye on the additional salt.
In a pinch: Minced garlic
Minced garlic is simply finely chopped garlic cloves. Minced garlic is a great garlic powder substitute for dishes where sautéing is necessary. Neither garlic powder nor garlic granules sauté well as they can burn in a matter of seconds.
On the other hand, minced garlic may not be effective if you are making a barbecue rub as it will not blend well with dry spices and may not stick to the meat. The flavor of minced garlic is more concentrated than that of garlic powder, which means that you will use less of it. Use half the amount of jarred minced garlic that your recipe requires for garlic powder.
These days, options like garlic juice are available on grocery store shelves. Garlic juice is the liquid extracted from fresh garlic cloves, which means that it is more pungent than the powder made from dried garlic cloves.
Garlic flakes are another good option for many dishes, especially braised ones. These are larger pieces of dried garlic that you use in their dry form or that you can soak in water until they resemble minced garlic.