Crystallized ginger is one of those spices that not many people have in their kitchen. I’ve found it as an ingredient in many recipes over the years and had to find a replacement. Here are the substitutes that I find work the best.
Some of the best substitutes for crystallized ginger are fresh ginger root, powdered ginger, household spices, stem ginger, and ginger candy. If you add just the right amount to your recipe, you can expect your dish to get the same spicy-sweet taste.
Now, I’ll cover each substitute in greater detail and tell you exactly how to use them in a recipe.
Best Substitutes for Crystallized Ginger
No matter how appealing it sounds to use crystallized ginger on whatever you’re cooking or baking, not everyone has the time and resources to make it. Fortunately, there are a number of options to choose from if you’re looking for substitutes for crystallized ginger. See the following sections:
1. Fresh Ginger Root
If you’re looking for the closest substitute to crystallized ginger, then you won’t go wrong with using fresh ginger root. Either grated or chopped ginger root will work. It will depend on what you’re making, what texture you’re going for, and how big the ginger roots should be.
No matter if you used grated ginger root or chopped ones, one thing that you should absolutely get right is the measurement. Generally, ½ cup of crystallized ginger is equivalent to two tablespoons of fresh ginger root and two tablespoons of sugar. You’ll be able to capture the sweet and spicy taste if you use granulated sugar.
2. Powdered Ginger
Powdered ginger, also known as ground ginger, is more potent than fresh ginger root. While ginger root comes with a sweeter taste, using ground ginger in place of crystallized ginger will give your dish a stronger and spicier kick. This can either be a pro or con, depending on your taste preference.
Some of the good things about using powdered ginger are that it’s easily accessible and has several health benefits. It’s also affordable and has a long shelf life, so you can easily store it in your pantry if there’s still some left after cooking.
On the other hand, going this route can be more time-consuming since you need to let it sit in cold water first to bring out the flavor.
For the measurement: you need to use four teaspoons of powdered ginger, and four teaspoons of sugar (use confectioner’s sugar for best results) for every ½ cup of crystallized ginger stated in the recipe.
3. Household Spices
If you don’t have any ginger-based substitute in your kitchen, you may find a suitable option if you look through your household spices. Specifically, you should look for the following:
- Allspice. Allspice has underlying notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, so you can expect to give your food a similar aroma and spice as crystallized ginger. Note that this will only work if you’re cooking a savory dish, as the spice’s peppery flavor won’t complement baked goods.
- Cinnamon. If you’re looking for a non-ginger-based substitute to use for baking, cinnamon spice is the way to go. It’s like using allspice but without the extra flavoring from other complementary spices.
- Turmeric. Turmeric is basically a relative of ginger, so they have similar tastes. This makes the spice one of the best substitutes for crystallized ginger. Add a bit of sugar to your mixture, and you can achieve the closest flavor without using the root itself.
Mace, cardamom, and nutmeg can also be great alternatives if you don’t have any of the spices above. All of these can offer you a ginger-like spice without having to worry about finding the actual ingredient.
Using household spices is best if you’re looking for a substitute for crystallized ginger because you don’t like how strong it is. You may have to test out the measurements, as the flavor of some of these complementary spices can be too weak for your liking.
4. Stem Ginger
For those who aren’t familiar with stem ginger, it refers to ginger roots that are boiled and cooked in a sugar-based syrup, which are then preserved for 12 months at most. Depending on the quality of the roots and how well they are peeled and sliced, some may only be able to last in the preservation stage for six months.
That said, considering that you’re brewing up a sweet dish, you can rely on your stem ginger to give you the same pungent taste of crystallized ginger. You may want to avoid this option if you’re not looking to add an extra sugary touch to your dish.
5. Ginger Candy
Ginger candy is often confused with crystallized ginger, so it’s already common for people to use them interchangeably in cooking and baking. However, if you’re aiming for that authentic ginger taste, I recommend leaving candied ginger as your last option.
Although ginger candy and crystallized ginger have the same touch of spicy and sweet tastes, working with the former can be complicated. Unlike crystallized ginger, ginger candy contains additional ingredients besides just sugar. It includes additives like gelatin and pectin, among many others, all of which can affect your dish’s taste and texture.
Moreover, you may have to go through trial-and-error tests since it can be hard to deduce how much sweetness the ginger candy will add to your food.
What Does Crystallized Ginger Do?
Crystallized ginger provides a distinct sweet and spicy flavor to dishes and baked goods. It also serves as a stand-alone snack. Crystalized ginger is great for people dealing with a sore throat, indigestion, cough, nausea, or arthritis-induced pain.
Where Is Crystallized Ginger Used?
Crystallized ginger is a common ingredient in baking, cooking, and even bartending. It is added to a variety of dishes, desserts, pastries, and appetizers either as a topping or as part of the mixture.
Its unique flavor especially goes well with the taste of most baked goods, such as gingerbread, banana bread, pancakes, shortbreads, biscuits, and spiced buns, to name a few. Sometimes, it’s also added to fruit salads.
Moreover, crystallized ginger is also mixed with drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. It can be added to plain water for a refreshing ginger tea. At the same time, it’s also a popular base ingredient for cocktails like ginger vodka and ginger smash.
Health Benefits of Crystallized Ginger
Some of the health benefits of eating crystallized ginger include better digestion, relieved cold-related symptoms, improved circulation, and reduced pain. It’s also recommended for people who want to detoxify and boost their immune systems.
Because ginger itself possesses a lot of beneficial properties, you can expect crystallized ginger to be almost, if not equally, as healthy as fresh ones. It’s most popular for its anti-inflammatory properties.
This is the same reason why many people turn to eating crystallized ginger whenever they’re dealing with a cold, cough, sore throat, and other illnesses that result from inflammation.
To add, crystallized ginger is also suitable for detoxifying your body. It aids in cleansing your kidneys and digestive tract.
What’s the Difference Between Crystallized Ginger and Regular Ginger?
Regular ginger refers to fresh ginger roots you see on the market. Crystallized ginger, on the other hand, is ginger that has been crystallized with the help of sugar. Crystalized ginger is sweeter than regular ginger.
Simply put, when we talk about regular ginger, we’re referring to the unprocessed and fresh roots used in regular dishes. Meanwhile, crystallized ginger is the processed version. It’s made by coating the ginger in sugar and letting it dry out.
Taste-wise, crystallized ginger has combined flavors of sweet and spicy with a chewy texture. Regular ginger tends to stick to the strong and concentrated ginger spice and comes in a more tender texture.
Is Crystallized Ginger the Same as Candied Ginger?
Crystalized ginger and candied ginger are usually used interchangeably. The only difference is that after they are boiled and cooked in syrup, crystalized ginger is coated in sugar and dried out, while candied ginger is stored in sugar syrup.
You’ll find crystallized and candied ginger to have similar tastes. However, expect candied ginger to be a tad sweeter because of being coated in syrup. The texture will also be stickier.
Some people coat crystallized ginger with additional sugar after the process, but you should still expect it to be the more potent one in terms of spiciness.
Can I Use Stem Ginger Instead of Crystallized Ginger?
You can use stem ginger instead of crystallized ginger. It’s one of the best substitutes that you can turn to because of the close resemblance in terms of taste and texture.
Keep in mind that because stem ginger is preserved and, thus, not as fresh, it comes with a stronger flavor. It’s best used if the dish you’re making is a sweet one.
Fresh ginger is always a great substitute for crystallized ginger. If you don’t have fresh ginger at hand, stem ginger and ginger candy can work for baked goods. For savory dishes, you can get away with powdered ginger or spices such as turmeric.
Remember that if you’re going to use a substitute that’s not ginger-based (e.g., chopped nuts, cinnamon, etc.), the difference in taste will be slightly more noticeable. It will still be as tasty, but if you have a refined palette for ginger, then I recommend sticking to fresh ginger root and powdered ginger.
For more, don’t miss 6 Substitutes for Black Pepper to Spice up Your Cooking.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.