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Garlic Powder vs. Garlic Salt (Which To Use When)

Garlic powder is an ingredient best incorporated in salty or spicy dishes. Garlic salt is a seasoned salt, used as a replacement for table, kosher, or sea salt to add savoriness and a light garlic flavor. You can use both on foods like meat, fish, veggies, and soups, but they aren’t interchangeable.

These two ingredients serve different purposes and have their intended uses in cooking applications. In this article, we’ll explore how to use the spice and the seasoned salt, when to avoid them, whether the two are interchangeable, and how to use them together. Read on to learn more about the finer points of garlic powder and garlic salt.

A bowl of garlic powder and a bowl of garlic salt

When Should I Use Garlic Powder?

Garlic powder is a common spice used in a variety of savory dishes. It’s a very fine powder with the dominant garlic tang, but without the messy, sticky oils of fresh garlic. You don’t have to cut or mince it, so there’s much less work involved. This versatile spice intensifies the flavors of many dishes to enliven your taste buds.

Use garlic powder as a substitute for fresh garlic cloves on savory meat entrees, blend it into appetizers like soups, or incorporate it into marinades, dressings, and sauces. Add it to low-sodium dishes to create robust flavor profiles. You can even inject it into meats for better taste.

When you’re craving the acrid bite of garlic but want to do away with the slicing, mincing, and cooking involved with fresh garlic, garlic powder is the answer. All you have to do is measure the amount you need, toss it in, and mix it up.

As an added bonus, it’s difficult to overpower dishes with garlic powder compared to fresh garlic, because it doesn’t continue releasing flavor enzymes as it sits.

Should I Add Garlic Powder Before or After Cooking?

Add garlic powder before or during cooking. Garlic contains a flavor-producing enzyme that, in its dried form, isn’t activated until moistened and is destroyed with heat. If you apply heat before hydration, you can ruin its flavor. If a dish contains wet ingredients, add garlic powder while cooking.


You can also sprinkle garlic powder on snacks after heating them, such as popcorn or roasted nuts. The oil or butter adds the hydration necessary to release the robust flavor enzymes in the powdered garlic.

When To Avoid Garlic Powder

There aren’t many situations that call for the avoidance of garlic powder, though there are times when it’s best to use fresh garlic. This is particularly true in foods that use fresh ingredients, like tomato-based dishes (i.e., pasta sauces, salsas, etc.), or in Asian cuisines—notably in stir-fries. Fresh garlic brings out the natural flavor of fresh produce in a way that garlic powder can’t compete with.

At the end of the day, the best way to add garlic to a dish is by using fresh cloves.

How to Make Your Own Homemade Garlic Powder

The primary ingredient in all garlic powders—whether homemade or store-bought—is dehydrated garlic cloves. Some brands also include anti-caking agents such as:

Homemade Garlic Powder Recipe

Long before there were grocery stores, people grew and dried their own herbs and spices, and garlic powder is no exception. It’s a very straightforward process that involves only a few hours of your time and a few simple steps.

Two bowls of garlic powder with a wooden spoon and fresh garlic in the background

Instead of using silicon dioxide and other commercial anti-caking agents, this recipe incorporates rice concentrate powder. However, this is an optional ingredient. If you want to prevent your homemade garlic powder from sticking together or forming large clumps, store it in a cool, dark spice cabinet away from moisture and light.


  • 6 heads of garlic
  • 1 tsp (4 g) rice concentrate powder (optional)


  1. Remove the individual garlic cloves. Peel off the root ends and the paper-like layers and discard or compost.
  2. Cut the garlic cloves into thin slices. The thickness of a dime is ideal, around 1.35 mm (0.05 in). Spread the pieces in a single layer on a dehydrator rack (if you’re using a dehydrator) or a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat (if you’re using an oven).
  3. Place in the dehydrator at 125˚F (51.6˚C) or the oven at 150 to 200˚F (65.5 to 93.3˚C). Check them in an hour. If you can snap them in half, they’re ready. If they’re still flexible, continue checking them at 15-minute intervals.
  4. Remove the dried slices from the oven. Allow them to cool completely.
  5. Put the garlic slices in a food processor. Grind until it becomes a fine powder. You may have to tap the container a few times to remove large garlic pieces from the sides.
  6. Sift the garlic powder over a bowl to remove any large pieces. Grind the large pieces in a bowl by hand using a spoon. Add them to the fine garlic powder.
  7. Add the rice concentrate powder, if desired, as an anti-caking agent. Mix well.
  8. Pour the powder into airtight jars. Place in a spice cabinet or other cool, dark, dry location.

With this recipe, you’ll make approximately ½ cup (64 grams) of garlic powder without an anti-caking agent.

Note: If the garlic turns green or blue, don’t worry. Garlic isn’t harmful if it’s green or blue—this is caused by the many sulfur compounds in the vegetable. If this bothers you, see if the blue or green hue goes away after baking. Sometimes the heat is enough to restore the natural color back to the cloves.

Foods That Taste Great With Garlic Powder

Whether you’re a stickler for spicy, tangy, or savory foods, garlic powder goes great in all of them. It also pairs well with different regional cuisines, from Asian stir-fries to Italian pastas.

Use garlic powder on some of the following foods to really make your taste buds dance:

  • Lamb chops
  • Meatloaf
  • Baked salmon
  • Parmesan crusted chicken
  • Tamales
  • Tacos
  • Green beans
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Steamed carrots
  • Lo-mein

You can even take things up a notch by incorporating other herbs and spices. A few that work well with garlic include parsley, oregano, and crushed red pepper for heat.

When Should I Use Garlic Salt?

Garlic salt is a blend of garlic powder (cut, dried, and powdered garlic cloves) blended with either table, kosher, or sea salt. It is classified as a seasoning salt and, unlike garlic powder, is not a spice.

You can use garlic salt in any savory recipe that requires salt but also needs a little something “extra.” Add this robust sodium seasoning to meat while browning, sprinkle it on fish prior to broiling, or dust it over chicken and veggies before baking.

Should I Use Salt and Garlic Salt?

You shouldn’t use salt and garlic salt together. Garlic salt is used for seasoning, but it is not a spice; the garlic is too light for flavoring. You can, however, use garlic powder and garlic salt in a single recipe.

Remember, these ingredients both utilize dry, ground garlic, so you don’t want to go overboard. Add only a little at a time and perform regular taste tests to ensure you’re not making an overpowering dish.

If, by accident, you add too much garlic flavor, you can offset the taste in one of several ways:

  • Add aromatic herbs, such as fresh oregano, basil, or parsley.
  • Incorporate an acid, like lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Pour in a creamy liquid, such as milk or melted butter.
  • Add a sweetener, like white or brown sugar.

If you’re making chili, a dash or two of cocoa powder and a pinch of cinnamon can add body to the stew and take away from the overwhelming garlic taste while adding deeper flavor.

When To Avoid Garlic Salt 

Garlic salt can easily overwhelm recipes because of its high sodium content. Therefore, you should choose one type of salt and stick with it—there’s no need for multiple types. Reserve this ingredient for light, garlic flavors when savoriness is also required. Avoid it when dishes are already well-salted or require additional savory ingredients.

On a low-sodium diet? It’s best to skip the garlic salt altogether and opt for a sodium-free seasoning instead.

Can I Replace Garlic Powder With Garlic Salt?

Garlic powder and garlic salt are two very different ingredients, each with its own applications in cooking. One is a seasoned salt, and the other is a spice.

You can’t replace garlic powder with garlic salt because garlic salt is primarily sodium. Using it in place of garlic powder would result in an extremely salty, nearly inedible dish. Better alternatives include fresh garlic cloves, onion powder, or freeze-dried chives.

How to Make Your Own Homemade Garlic Salt

To make garlic salt, you’ll need garlic powder. You can make your own garlic powder at home using the recipe earlier in this article, or you can purchase garlic powder from your local grocery store.

Note: If you’re using store-bought products, check the ingredients. If it contains an anti-caking agent, such as silicon dioxide, you won’t need the rice concentrate powder in this recipe. If you used the garlic powder recipe in this article and added rice concentrate powder, you can skip the rice concentrate powder in this garlic salt recipe.

When gathering ingredients, opt for kosher or sea salt. These salts are less sharp than table salt.


  • ¾ cup (96 g) kosher or sea salt
  • ¼ cup (32 g) garlic powder
  • ½ tsp (2 g) rice concentrate powder (optional)


  1. Pour ¾ cup (96 g) kosher or sea salt into a food processor or blender. Grind the salt until it becomes a fine powder. You do not have to sift the mixture; some larger flakes of salt are fine in the final product. Add the finely ground salt to a small bowl.
  2. Add ¼ cup (32 g) of garlic powder to the finely ground salt. Use a fork or whisk to ensure everything is well-blended.
  3. Blend in ½ teaspoon (2 g) rice concentrate powder if desired. The rice concentrate powder is a gluten-free anti-caking agent. If you use this, mix well before moving on to the next step.
  4. Pour the garlic salt mixture into an airtight jar. Put the lid on tightly and store in a spice cabinet or another cool, dry location.

You can substitute garlic salt for kosher, sea, or table salt in any recipe, especially if you’re looking to also add a subtle garlic flavor.

Note: If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a mortar and pestle and do things the old-fashioned way. Though it will take a significantly longer time, it’ll still get the job done—just be sure to sift out any extra-large pieces.

Foods That Taste Great With Garlic Salt

You can use garlic salt for almost any savory dish. However, you shouldn’t use it if you’ve already salted the dish or if you plan to add more savory ingredients, since you’ll end up with an overly-salted meal. 

As a general rule, garlic salt should be a salt replacement. You can use it on almost anything. From hamburgers to casseroles—the options are practically endless.

Here are some dishes to try with a dash or two of garlic salt:

  • Chili
  • Taco seasoning
  • Spaghetti
  • Shepherd’s pie
  • Meatballs
  • Chicken salad
  • Roasted potatoes

It’s also a good idea to pair other spices with garlic salt to bring about a deep flavor. Some of the best herbs and spices that pair well with garlic salt include the following: 

  • Black pepper
  • White pepper
  • Bay leaf
  • Basil
  • Chili powder
  • Ginger
  • Dill


Garlic powder and garlic salt are much easier to use than fresh garlic, and store-bought mixes require no chopping or peeling. However, these ingredients are very different from one another. Though they can both enhance dishes, they should never be substituted for one another.

Garlic salt adds a touch of saltiness with a hint of light, colorful garlic taste, whereas the powder version is more robust without the acidic, spicy flavor of the raw vegetable. When using these ingredients, knowing how they enhance tastes is the key to creating the best flavor profiles.