Focus Ingredient: Onion Powder and Garlic Powder

Jun 6, 2011 by     10 Comments    Posted under: Focus Ingredients, Spices
Onion Powder

Onion Powder

If I have a “secret” ingredient in my cooking, it has to be Onion Powder.  This is a must have flavor essential in your kitchen.  Go buy it now.  You can ask questions later.

What is Onion Powder?

Onion Powder is nothing more than dehydrated bulb onions that have been finely ground into a soft powder.  It smells strong, but adds a subtle onion flavor when used in a dish.  DO NOT confuse it with Onion Salt, which is a more coarsely ground version which has been mixed with tons of salt.  I like to keep my salt separate so I can more easily judge and control the sodium level of my dishes.



Onion Powder Uses

I use Onion Powder in anything that I want an onion flavor in, often even when using fresh onions, as the onion powder lays a subtle foundation of onion flavor while the fresh onions add strong onion hits.  The two work great together.  The applicable uses are extensive, but I seem to primarily use Onion Powder as follows:

  • Mixed with other spices and herbs to make a Dry Rub
  • Added to Soups and Stews
  • Whisked into Vinaigrettes
  • Sprinkled on Steak, Pork, or Chicken when grilling/frying/sauteing
  • Used as a seasoning in Sauces, even marinara
  • Added to Gravies
  • Mixed in with Bread or Pasta dough
  • Sprinkled on Pizza prior to baking
  • Mixed into burger when making Hamburgers
Onion Powder Container

Onion Powder Container

I have found that Onion Powder often provides the final flavor component in, thus fixing, a dish that just seems to be missing something.  If you’re not using it now, start.  Your family and friends will instantly notice that your food seems to taste better than it did before.

Because Onion Powder is dehydrated onions, it will absorb some of the moisture in what ever you put it in.  This usually doesn’t make much of a difference, but just pay attention to things.  I’ve noticed that when using it in gravies or sauces, I sometimes need to add a little bit more water or broth to compensate after adding the Onion Powder.

Garlic Powder

Garlic Powder is another great thing to have on hand.  It is usually more coarsely ground and looks more like tiny sand granules than a powder.  The larger size requires more liquid when reconstituting, so closely watch the liquid content in your dish when using it.  It can be used everywhere Onion Powder can when you want a subtle garlic flavor.  However, I have found that it needs to be cooked, otherwise it doesn’t have a very good flavor.  For this reason, I recommend using fresh garlic in your vinaigrettes rather than Garlic Powder.

I’m a huge fresh garlic fan, so I don’t use Garlic Powder nearly as much as Onion Powder, but it still is a useful spice to have on hand and does see a fair amount of use in my kitchen.  Again, stay away from Garlic Salt….you just can’t balance the salt and garlic right when using it.

Purchasing Onion and Garlic Powder

Both Onion Powder and Garlic Powder are available at most any grocer in the spice aisle.  They’re available for high prices in the small little glass jars, but if you look around (usually on the bottom shelf), most stores sell them in larger plastic containers for about have the price per ounce.  Go for the larger and more economical size.  The stuff lasts for a long long time.


10 Comments + Add Comment

  • Homemade onion powder is worth the trouble to make. Commercial onion powder is usually strong, and possibly ground from onions that didn’t make the ‘cut’ to end up in the produce section. Choose a better onion, such as a sweet Vidalia, and the results are fantastic!

    Clumping is an issue, even when dried very well. Use a shaker lid on the spice jar with a few beans to draw out any remaining traces of moisture, and shake vigorously before each use. The beans are much easier to work around than rice when using measuring spoons.

    • Great tips, thanks Lonnie!

  • Finally purchased some onion powder today after hearing such good things about it! A quick google search lead me here, thanks for the tips bald gourmet!

  • I am an onion powder whore. Whenever I season anything, I use onion powder. As a complete noob at cooking, I now feel validated in my lust for onion powder.

    • Ha! Onion powder IS the best. Thanks for the comment Tam.

  • I do have recipes which need tastes of onion and garlic but physically preparing them is a challenge. I am happy to know there are now available in powder form. I hope I can order on line as I do not recall having
    seen onion powders in the supermarkets here in the Philippines.

  • “onion & garlic are life of human being”………..

  • [...] Onion powder  [...]

  • I’m not a great cook by any means but I do agree that onion powder is a must in the kitchen. I find that everything tastes better with it.

  • I have to agree. I have found onion powder to be my secret ingredient too. It lends a flavor not like raw onions at all in my opinion. Although I have also found raw onions to be a secret ingredient in soups, for example, I place whole pearl onions in soup and find that it virtually eliminates the need for additional spices. The ‘flavor profile’ as some gurus may call it is very rich and nearly astounding.

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