Garlic Salt Substitutes

Garlic Goodness, Sans the Salt: Top Substitutes for Healthier Cooking

Garlic salt, a simple yet transformative ingredient, has long graced the shelves of kitchens worldwide. A savory blend of garlic powder and salt, it imparts a distinct, aromatic flavor to dishes that few other seasonings can replicate.

But what happens when you reach for it mid-recipe and find the jar empty? Or when dietary restrictions require a lower sodium option? Understanding what garlic salt is, and its pivotal role in culinary artistry, can guide us to suitable substitutes, ensuring our meals never lack that desired punch.

Proportions of Garlic Powder to Salt

At its core, garlic salt is usually made up of three parts table salt to one part garlic powder, though this ratio can vary slightly depending on the brand or homemade recipe. This ratio ensures that the resulting blend carries the strong aroma of garlic while benefiting from the flavor-enhancing properties of salt.

List of Garlic Salt Substitutes

Whole Garlic Cloves

Whole garlic cloves, the natural origin of all things garlic-flavored, offer an intense and fresh flavor. Whether you’re aiming for a deep, slow-cooked infusion or a quick aromatic punch, understanding how to utilize whole garlic cloves as a substitute is invaluable.

Proportions for Substitution

For every 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt a recipe calls for, you can substitute with:

  • 1 fresh garlic clove, minced or finely chopped
  • An additional 3/8 teaspoon of table salt (though this can be adjusted to taste or dietary requirements)

Remember, fresh garlic has a more potent flavor than garlic powder, so adjustments may be needed based on personal preferences.

Method of Preparation

  1. Minced: Ideal for sautés, stir-fries, and dishes where you want the garlic flavor to be evenly distributed. Mincing releases the garlic’s natural juices, providing a strong and immediate burst of flavor.
  2. Crushed or Pressed: Best for marinades, dressings, or recipes that benefit from a milder garlic flavor. Using a garlic press or the flat side of a knife can extract more of the garlic’s essence without the need for fine chopping.
  3. Whole or Sliced: Perfect for slow-cooked dishes like stews or roasts. This method imparts a subtle, sweet garlic undertone.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder, often considered the backbone of garlic salt, is a dried and pulverized form of garlic. It retains the essence of garlic but offers it in a concentrated and convenient format. When using garlic powder as a substitute for garlic salt, it’s crucial to consider its potency and the need to balance it with salt.

When to Use and Its Potency Compared to Garlic Salt

Garlic powder is intense and brings a pure garlic flavor without added moisture. When compared to garlic salt, remember that garlic powder lacks the salt component. Hence, its taste is a concentrated garlic essence. A general guideline: for every teaspoon of garlic salt, you might use 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon of garlic powder, depending on the desired intensity.

Combining with Salt to Create a Homemade Garlic Salt

Making your garlic salt blend is an easy and customizable process. Here’s a basic guideline:

  1. Mixing Ratio: Combine 3 parts of salt to 1 part of garlic powder. For instance, for one tablespoon of a homemade blend, you’d use 3/4 tablespoon of table salt and 1/4 tablespoon of garlic powder.
  2. Adjust to Preference: Depending on your palate, you can tweak the ratio. If you favor a more pronounced garlic note, increase the amount of garlic powder.
  3. Storage: Once mixed, store your homemade blend in an airtight container to keep it fresh and prevent clumping.

Granulated Garlic

Granulated garlic holds a special place in the hierarchy of garlic products. A coarser version of garlic powder, it offers a distinct texture and flavor that’s indispensable in many culinary applications.

Differences between Granulated Garlic and Garlic Powder

  1. Texture: The most noticeable difference is the texture. Granulated garlic has a coarser, sand-like consistency, whereas garlic powder is much finer, resembling the texture of flour.
  2. Flavor Release: Due to its coarser grind, granulated garlic releases its flavor a tad slower than garlic powder. This can be beneficial in dishes that require a more sustained release of garlic flavor.
  3. Moisture Absorption: Granulated garlic tends to absorb less moisture than garlic powder, making it less prone to clumping in humid conditions.

How to Substitute in Recipes

  1. General Ratio: If a recipe calls for garlic salt, a good starting point is to use an equal amount of granulated garlic and then add salt to taste. As a guideline, for 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, consider using 1/4 to 1/3 teaspoon of granulated garlic and then supplement with salt as required.
  2. Adjustment: Because granulated garlic is less concentrated than garlic powder, you might need a tad more to achieve the same level of garlic flavor. As always, adjustments can be made based on individual preferences.
  3. Dishes Best Suited: Granulated garlic shines in rubs, marinades, and dressings where its coarser texture is appreciated.

Garlic Flakes

Also known as dehydrated (or dried) garlic slices, garlic flakes are slices of garlic that have been dehydrated. They provide a crunchy texture and a burst of garlic flavor, and can be a unique substitute for garlic salt in specific dishes.

  1. Appearance: These are thin, crisp slices or chunks of garlic, somewhat resembling small chips or shards.
  2. Flavor Profile: While they retain the garlic’s natural flavor, the dehydration process gives them a slightly mellowed taste compared to fresh garlic.
  3. Rehydration: When exposed to moisture (like in soups or stews), garlic flakes can rehydrate and take on a texture closer to fresh garlic.

Proportions for Substitution

  1. General Guideline: For each teaspoon of garlic salt a recipe demands, consider using about 1 teaspoon of garlic flakes. Don’t forget to add salt separately, adjusting to your taste preference.
  2. Crushing for Enhanced Flavor: If you’re looking to get a more potent garlic flavor, you can crush the flakes into a coarser version of granulated garlic. This will release more flavor when added to your dishes.

Best Uses in Cooking

  1. Slow-cooked Dishes: Garlic flakes are particularly beneficial in dishes that involve some amount of liquid and longer cooking times, like stews, soups, or sauces. Here, the flakes have time to rehydrate and infuse the dish with a delightful garlic essence.
  2. Toppings: You can sprinkle them atop pizzas, salads, or casseroles for an added crunch and flavor.
  3. Rubs and Marinades: Their texture can add an interesting element to meat rubs and marinades, giving a hint of garlic without overpowering the mix.

Garlic Paste

Garlic paste is a smooth blend of garlic cloves, often combined with oil or water to create a thick, spreadable consistency. A staple in many kitchens, especially in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, it provides a concentrated garlic flavor with the added convenience of quick application.

  1. Consistency: Garlic paste has a creamy texture, allowing for easy mixing and blending in various dishes.
  2. Flavor Profile: Offering a robust garlic essence, its flavor is close to that of fresh garlic but in a more concentrated form due to the mashing process.
  3. Ingredients: Some store-bought garlic pastes may contain additional ingredients like citric acid or preservatives. Always check the label if you’re aiming for pure garlic flavor.

Proportions for Substitution

  1. General Guideline: For every teaspoon of garlic salt, consider using 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of garlic paste, depending on the intensity you’re aiming for. Remember to separately add salt to your dish to account for the missing salt component.
  2. Adjustments: The potency of garlic paste can vary based on the brand or how it’s made. It’s always a good idea to start with a smaller amount and adjust according to taste.

Ideal Uses in Cooking

  1. Stir-fries and Sautés: Garlic paste can be quickly added to hot pans, ensuring even distribution of garlic flavor.
  2. Marinades and Sauces: Its smooth texture makes it ideal for marinades, dressings, or sauces where a consistent flavor profile is desired.
  3. Spreads and Dips: It can be incorporated into butter for garlic bread or mixed into dips for an added depth of flavor.

Minced Garlic (Fresh or Bottled)

Minced garlic, whether it’s freshly prepared at home or purchased in bottled form, stands as a popular choice for chefs and home cooks alike due to its ease of use and potent flavor profile. When it comes to replacing garlic salt, minced garlic can be a fantastic substitute if used correctly.

Preparing Fresh Minced Garlic

  • Selecting: Opt for plump, firm garlic bulbs with dry, tight skins.
  • Peeling: Separate the number of cloves you need. Place a clove beneath the flat side of a chef’s knife and apply a quick, careful pressure until the clove slightly crushes. This makes the peel easier to remove.
  • Mincing: After peeling, finely chop the garlic clove by making several evenly spaced cuts, then turn and cut crosswise to produce tiny pieces.

Using Minced Garlic (Fresh or Bottled)

  • Proportion: A general guideline is to use 1/2 teaspoon of minced garlic in place of 1/8 teaspoon of garlic salt. Remember, this is purely the garlic flavor. You’ll need to add salt separately to account for the missing salty component.
  • Cooking: Minced garlic can burn easily. If sautéing, add it to the pan later than you’d add garlic salt to ensure it doesn’t overcook and turn bitter.
  • Raw Applications: In dressings or dips, where the garlic isn’t cooked, start with a smaller amount and adjust according to taste. The fresh, robust flavor of raw minced garlic can be overpowering for some.

Garlic Juice

Garlic juice, a less common but immensely flavorful derivative of garlic, captures the essence of garlic in a liquid form. It can be extracted from fresh garlic cloves and is sometimes available as a bottled product. Due to its concentrated nature, garlic juice can be an impactful substitute in dishes that call for garlic salt.

Using Garlic Juice as A Replacement

  1. Extraction: To extract juice from fresh garlic:
    • Crush or press several garlic cloves using a garlic press.
    • Use a fine strainer or cheesecloth to press and extract the juice.
    • Store in a small container or bottle.
  2. Bottled Garlic Juice: If you’re purchasing garlic juice, opt for products that have fewer preservatives or additives to ensure a more authentic garlic flavor.
  3. Using in Dishes: Garlic juice can be mixed into marinades, dressings, sauces, and soups. Given its liquid form, it seamlessly blends into dishes, distributing garlic flavor uniformly.

Adjusting for Flavor Intensity

  1. Proportion: As a general starting point, consider using 1/4 teaspoon of garlic juice to replace 1/8 teaspoon of garlic salt. Given its concentrated nature, garlic juice packs a punch, and it’s essential to add it incrementally. Remember, you’ll need to adjust the salt separately due to the missing salty component from the garlic salt.
  2. Taste and Adjust: After adding the initial amount, taste the dish and decide if it requires a stronger garlic flavor. The potency of garlic juice can vary based on the extraction method and the age of the garlic, so adjusting based on taste is crucial.
  3. Combination with Other Ingredients: When substituting garlic salt with garlic juice in recipes that rely heavily on dry ingredients (like rubs), consider combining the juice with another dry garlic substitute, like garlic powder or granulated garlic, to maintain the consistency.
  4. Heat Sensitivity: Garlic juice can lose some of its nuances when subjected to high heat for prolonged periods. If possible, add it towards the end of the cooking process to retain its full flavor profile.

Garlic Oil

Garlic oil is a fragrant infusion of garlic in a carrier oil, usually olive or vegetable oil. It’s an excellent way to infuse dishes with a gentle garlic essence and also benefits from the character of the oil.

Making Garlic Oil

  • Ingredients: Fresh garlic cloves and a carrier oil (like olive oil or vegetable oil).
  • Process:
    1. Peel and finely chop or crush the garlic cloves.
    2. In a saucepan, heat the oil on low to medium heat. Add the garlic.
    3. Allow the garlic to simmer gently, ensuring it doesn’t brown or burn. This could take 5-10 minutes.
    4. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
    5. Strain the oil to remove garlic pieces, and store in a clean, airtight bottle.
  • Cold Infusion: For a milder flavor, you can also infuse garlic in oil without heat. Simply immerse garlic cloves in oil and let it sit for a week or more.

When and How to Replace in Recipes


As a general guideline, for every 1/8 teaspoon of garlic salt, you can use 1 teaspoon of garlic oil. However, since the oil doesn’t contain salt, you’ll need to season your dish separately.

Culinary Applications

  • Dressings and Marinades: Garlic oil can be a foundational ingredient, adding depth and aroma.
  • Drizzling: Perfect for pizzas, pastas, bread, and roasted vegetables.
  • Cooking: Use as a base oil for sautéing vegetables, meats, or seafood.
  • Baking: Can be incorporated into dough for garlic-flavored bread or crusts.

Heat Sensitivity

Garlic oil’s flavor can be altered when subjected to high heat. For dishes where the garlic essence is primary, consider adding the oil towards the end or after cooking.

Cooking Notes

  • In dishes where oil is a primary ingredient, like sautés or fried dishes, simply switch the regular oil for garlic oil.
  • For recipes that don’t typically require oil, use garlic oil sparingly to ensure the dish doesn’t become overly oily or greasy.

Roasted Garlic

Roasted garlic offers a transformative take on the traditional garlic experience. Through the roasting process, garlic cloves become tender and develop a mellow, almost caramelized sweetness. This results in a flavor profile that is both deep and subtly nuanced, making roasted garlic an intriguing garlic salt substitute.

Roasting Techniques and Incorporating into Salt

Roasting garlic is a simple yet rewarding process. To roast garlic, slice off the top of a garlic bulb to expose the cloves, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, and bake until soft and golden. Once roasted, the cloves can be easily squeezed out of their skins and mixed with salt. This creates a roasted garlic-infused salt that brings a delicate sweetness and complexity to your dishes.


Roasted garlic salt can be used in a wide array of dishes. It’s particularly wonderful in mashed potatoes, creamy sauces, and roasted meats. The subtle sweetness of roasted garlic can balance out rich and savory flavors, creating a harmonious blend in your culinary creations.

Onion Salt

Onion and Salt Blend as a Milder Replacement

If you’re looking for a milder alternative to garlic salt, onion salt provides a subtle and complementary flavor profile. Onion salt is a blend of dried onion powder and salt, offering a balanced combination that enhances dishes without overpowering them. This substitute is particularly useful when you desire a touch of savory depth without the intensity of pure garlic.

Adjusting Ratios to Balance Flavors

Similar to other blends, the ratio of onion powder to salt can be adjusted to achieve the desired flavor balance. A higher onion powder content will introduce more of the onion’s mild and sweet taste, while a higher salt proportion will emphasize the saltiness. Experiment with ratios to find the harmony that suits your culinary vision.


Onion salt is a versatile seasoning that can be used in various dishes, from soups and stews to salad dressings and roasted vegetables. Its mild flavor profile makes it suitable for enhancing the overall taste of a dish without overwhelming delicate flavors. Consider using onion salt when you want to add depth and complexity to your creations.

Umami-rich Alternatives

Exploring Soy Sauce, Miso Paste, and Nutritional Yeast

When seeking to infuse a dish with depth and complexity, umami-rich substitutes offer a unique avenue of flavor enhancement. Umami, often referred to as the fifth taste, adds a savory and satisfying quality to dishes. Ingredients like soy sauce, miso paste, and nutritional yeast are excellent options for introducing umami into your creations, and they can be used as compelling substitutes for garlic salt.

Infusing Umami and Depth into Dishes

Soy sauce, with its rich and savory profile, brings a distinctive umami element to your dishes. Miso paste, derived from fermented soybeans, contributes a deep and complex flavor that pairs well with a variety of cuisines. Nutritional yeast, often used in vegan cooking, offers a cheesy and nutty umami flavor that adds a layer of richness to your meals.


Umami-rich substitutes can be used in a wide range of dishes, from stir-fries and marinades to sauces and soups. They excel in providing a foundation of depth and complexity, making them particularly useful when creating dishes with a well-rounded flavor profile. Incorporating these substitutes can add a new dimension of taste to your culinary creations.

Lemon Zest and Salt

For a refreshing twist on traditional garlic salt, consider the dynamic combination of lemon zest and salt. Lemon zest, the outermost layer of a lemon’s peel, carries an invigorating citrusy aroma that can brighten up your dishes. When blended with salt, it creates a seasoning that adds a zesty and aromatic element to your culinary creations.

Pairing with Dishes That Benefit from Acidity

Lemon zest and salt can be particularly effective in dishes that benefit from a touch of acidity. The citrusy notes complement seafood, salads, and roasted vegetables, enhancing the overall taste profile. This substitute offers a unique balance of saltiness and zesty freshness that can elevate a variety of dishes.


To create lemon zest and salt seasoning, finely grate the outer layer of a lemon’s peel and mix it with salt. The ratio can be adjusted based on your taste preferences and the intensity of lemon aroma you desire. Sprinkle the seasoning over dishes just before serving to impart a burst of citrus fragrance.

Blends like “Italian Seasoning” or “Herbs de Provence”

Flavor Profile

  • Italian Seasoning: Typically contains a mix of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and other herbs.
  • Herbs de Provence: This aromatic blend includes savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and, often, lavender.


While neither blend mimics the taste of garlic, they can be used to infuse dishes with a rich, herbaceous profile. For 1 teaspoon of garlic salt, consider using 1 teaspoon of the herb blend and add salt to taste.


Ideal for Mediterranean dishes, roasts, vegetables, and sauces. They won’t replace the garlic note but will add a sophisticated herbaceous profile.

Using Replacements in Different Cuisines

Italian Cuisine

In Italian cuisine, garlic is a cornerstone flavor, infusing dishes with its aromatic essence. When substituting garlic salt, opt for garlic powder or a garlic powder and salt blend. These alternatives seamlessly integrate into pasta sauces, risottos, and herb-laden dishes like bruschetta. Remember to start with a smaller quantity and adjust as needed to maintain the delicate balance that Italian cuisine often emphasizes.

Mediterranean Cuisine

Mediterranean dishes are renowned for their vibrant flavors and fresh ingredients. For a suitable substitute, consider using minced garlic in oil or even roasted garlic. Both options complement the Mediterranean emphasis on olive oil and herbs. Incorporate them into dishes like Greek salads, hummus, and grilled vegetables to elevate the experience with savory and aromatic notes.

Asian Cuisine

Asian cuisine features a wide range of flavors, from bold and spicy to delicate and umami-rich. Umami substitutes such as soy sauce, miso paste, and nutritional yeast can be excellent choices. These substitutes blend harmoniously with dishes like stir-fries, sushi, and noodle soups, enhancing the overall taste profile with a satisfying depth of flavor.

Latin American Cuisine

In Latin American cooking, garlic often plays a vital role in marinades and sauces. Fresh garlic is a suitable substitute, offering the pungent and aromatic qualities essential to dishes like chimichurri and mole. Additionally, herb blends can mimic the herbaceous notes found in Latin American dishes, contributing to the complexity and depth of flavor in these culinary creations.

Exploring Global Cuisine

Beyond these specific cuisines, garlic salt substitutes have a place in a diverse range of global culinary traditions. From Indian curries to Middle Eastern dips, the substitutes you choose can adapt to your chosen cuisine’s flavor palette. Remember to consider the cultural nuances of each cuisine and how the chosen substitute can contribute to the authenticity and overall enjoyment of the dish.

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