When there’s no time to chop onions, onion powder is one option. Substitute 1 tablespoon of onion powder for one medium chopped onion. For the best onion flavor, use frozen chopped onions or dried minced onion (found in the spice aisle). One tablespoon of dried minced onion equals 1/4 cup minced raw onion.
After all, onion powder is just dried and pulverized onions—the essence of onion, if you will. But just because the two have a very close relationship doesn’t mean they can be used interchangeably. Each is unique, and before you go swapping one for the other, you should consider what each brings to the table.
Fresh onions are more than their taste. They have texture—a real crunch when raw, a buttery softness when caramelized. They’re also approximately 89% water, which means that when you cook with them, you’re introducing moisture into your dish.
Onion powder, on the other hand, comes from onions that have been dried (either air-dried, dehydrated, or freeze-dried) and then crushed to varying degrees, from flakes to powder. No texture, no water, and a more concentrated oniony punch. And just like with fresh onions, the flavor of onion powder varies, too. It can be made from any kind of onion, be it biting white, milder red, or sweeter yellow. It can be made solely of the bulb—the onioniest part of the onion—or it can include the root, stem, or skin. The onions can be dry-roasted before they’re pulverized, resulting in a golden-brown, mellow-but-toasty powder—or not! Regardless, what you’re getting is undeniably distinct from a whole onion.
Onion powder offers provides that umami-forward, almost nostalgic-tasting something-something that keeps you coming back bite after bite. Use it where you would garlic powder—when you want to introduce big flavor without additional wetness or texture: Think dry rubs, popcorn seasoning, potato chips, mixed nuts, hamburgers, or the dredging for chicken cutlets.
Adding raw onion to potato chips would be... not good. These get their irresistible flavor from onion powder, instead. Photo By Alex Lau, Food Styling By Sue Li, Prop Styling By Kalen Kaminski
And sometimes, fresh onions and onion powder can actually enhance each other. Want to throw a pinch into this onion dip? Go right ahead. Want to add some to a frittata or scramble? Fine! This potato salad was actually developed with the idea that each has something to give. Which is all to say: There’s no reason that you can’t add onion powder to a dish that already calls for onions, but don’t use it as a 1:1 stand-in.
Both onions and onion powder are delicious in their own right, and they can be even better together. It’s enough to bring tears to your eyes. (Well, at least sometimes.)
Using Onion Powder or Flakes
You can substitute chopped onions with either onion powder or dried onion flakes using the following equivalences:
1.Small Onion: Produces about 1/3 cup of chopped onion. As a substitute, use 1 teaspoon of onion powder or 1 tablespoon of dried onion flakes.
2.Medium Onion: Produces about 1 cup of chopped onion. Use 1 tablespoon of onion powder or 3 tablespoons of dried onion flakes as a substitute.
3.Large Onion: Produces about 1 1/2 cups of chopped onion. When substituting, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of onion powder or 4 1/2 tablespoons of dried onion flakes.
Granulated onion vs onion powder
2 teaspoons granulated onion. Granulated onion is just like onion powder but more coarsely ground.
OR - 1/2 cup chopped, fresh onion. You need quite a bit more freshly chopped onion to replace the more concentrated flavor in onion powder.
OR - 1 teaspoon + of onion salt. If you have to use onion salt, make sure to reduce the amount of salt in your recipe.
OR - 1 teaspoon garlic powder. You can use garlic powder, but this will change the flavor. You'll be using less because it is stronger in flavor than onion powder.
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