Garlic Powder Vs. Garlic: SPICEography Showdown

Garlic is one of the most popular and commonly-used ingredients in kitchens all over the world. It’s also one ingredient that a lot of chefs have strong, passionate opinions on when it comes to the question of how garlic powder should be used.

Many chefs and culinary hobbyists have a purist view on garlic, refusing to cook with anything but fresh garlic cloves. However, garlic powder does have a place in the kitchen. Before you dismiss garlic powder as inferior, let’s take a closer look at these ingredients so you can decide for yourself whether or not to stock your kitchen with both fresh cloves and garlic powder. What are the similarities? What are the differences? Let’s take a look.

Do garlic powder and fresh garlic have the same flavor?

Just like any other herb or spice, there’s a distinct difference in flavor between fresh and powdered garlic.

Powdered garlic tends to be milder, but it can be a bit strong if the amount used to season a dish isn’t exactly right. When used in an appropriate quantity for any particular dish, however, powdered garlic can elevate the overall flavor just right – not overwhelming, yet still very tasty. There’s a wonderful complexity of flavor that can be achieved easily with the addition of garlic powder to an incredible variety of foods.

Fresh garlic has a more aggressive flavor, though it tends more towards sweetness when cooked. Added fresh at the end of a recipe, though, fresh garlic is anything but mild, creating a sharp and biting flavor.

Is powdered garlic as healthy as fresh?

If you’re looking to take advantage of all the incredible health benefits garlic has to offer, it’s barely worth comparing fresh and powdered garlic.

While powdered garlic does still have some of the same properties when it comes to vitamins, nutrients, health, and wellness, much is lost in the processing of the garlic.

Fresh garlic cloves, on the other hand, are practically bursting with health benefits. In fact, garlic is one of the most beneficial foods you could possibly consume for optimum health and wellness.

Can garlic powder be used as a substitute for fresh garlic? Can fresh garlic substitute for powdered?

Garlic powder and fresh garlic can absolutely serve as substitutes for one another, though generally, garlic powder is used for different purposes than garlic. Fresh garlic cloves are most often used in cooking a wide variety of dishes including soups, sauces, Italian cuisine and more. 

For something like a rub, however, garlic powder is used as it mixes easily with dry ingredients. It is also often used for seasoning all types of cooking in much the same way as salt or MSG is used. A pinch here or a dash there can really elevate and enrich the overall flavor of a dish without overpowering the other ingredients.

If you are to substitute garlic powder for fresh garlic (or vice versa) there is, as mentioned, a difference in flavor intensity, so it’s important to use the appropriate conversion ratios.

For garlic, the general rule is to consider 1 garlic clove as being equal to 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder. Of course, the best way to be sure your substitution will work as intended is to add your garlic little by little, tasting as you do so. Conversion ratios aside, your own taste buds are always the best judge.