How to Make Garlic Powder That Actually Tastes Like Garlic

May  9, 2017

There is a cloudy plastic jar of garlic powder at the back of my spice drawer that is older than I am. To shake it on pizza or sprinkle it over pasta would be a song and dance. And so it remains there, to die another day. It's a security spice.

This is going to make some good garlic bread! Photo by James Ransom

But this dust masquerading as garlic powder is not a fair representation of the real, fresh stuff that's so pure and pungent it'll bop you on the nose with its intensity.

With a few hours and a few heads of garlic, you can have the freshest garlic powder known to woman and man (and begin to understand the point of garlic powder in the first place!).

Fossilized garlic cloves, ready to be ground! Photo by James Ransom

Here's how to make fresh garlic powder:

  1. Grab some garlic! (Three heads of garlic yields about 1/2 cup of garlic powder.) Separate and peel the cloves, then shave them into very thin slices—we used a mandoline; you could also practice your knife skills.
  2. Dehydrate those shavings on parchment-lined baking sheets. If you have a dehydrator, use that; otherwise, bake at your oven's lowest possible temperature (you want your oven to be between 130° and 150° F—if it doesn't get that low, use a wine cork or some other tool to keep the door propped open. At Food52, our oven's bottom limit is 170° F. So we let the oven get to 170°, then turned it off, waited forty-five minutes and powered it up and turned it off again, repeating the process.
  3. Bake the garlic until it's completely dry, so dry that you can crush it in your hand. (Do not freak out if it gets a little color, but avoid browning it.) This can take anywhere between 2 and 4 hours.
  4. Let the dried garlic cool, then grind it into a fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder. (Here's how to clean it once you've done that stinky job.)
  5. If you want lump-free garlic powder, shake it through a fine-mesh sieve. Store in a clean jar (perhaps an old spice jar you're reusing) and keep it in a cool, dark place, where it should keep for at least a few months.
Photo by James Ransom

Once you've got fresh garlic powder—with actual flavor—you won't have trouble finding ways to use it.

  • We made spinach-Parmesan garlic bread: Sauté spinach in olive oil and garlic, then layer it on a buttered baguette, shower with shredded Parm, and send into the oven until golden and melty. Season with garlic powder and red pepper flakes.
  • Add a dash to Alfredo sauce or another favorite creamy pasta...
  • ...or to your scrambled eggs.
Oh garlic powder, look what you made us do! Photo by James Ransom
  • Sprinkle over a galette (or incorporate it directly into the dough!).
  • Mix into biscuit or bread dough.
  • Soften salted butter, then mix it with garlic powder and chopped herbs and spread over those biscuits, preferably when they're warm from the oven.
  • Use it to liven up a tomato soup.

Do you have a creative use for garlic powder? Tell us in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • FrugalCat
  • Linda Kramer
    Linda Kramer
  • MJHansen
  • rinamay
  • Peggy
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


FrugalCat May 18, 2020
I was a teenager before I found out that powder was not the natural form that garlic grew in.
Linda K. August 23, 2017
Look for Truffle or Chocolate Shavers online.
MJHansen May 15, 2017
What a great idea!! Do you have to slice the garlic thin, or can you just chop them in a food processor and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet to dry? Has anyone tried this with other veges, i.e. red/green bell peppers, jalapenos etc..?
Peggy May 15, 2017
It works best to thinly slice the garlic but chopping will work as well. You definitely can do this with jalapeños or bell peppers but they dry best in the dehydrator. A WORD OF CAUTION: do not dry hot peppers (or garlic) on a dehydrator in the house. The fumes from chopped hot peppers will burn your eyes (yes this is the words of experience talking) I set my dehydrator up in the garage for anything that is pungent in nature as my husband does not like the house smelling like an Italian deli for days on end.
MJHansen May 15, 2017
Thanks for the quick response Peggy! Have you noticed any foods picking up other flavors when you dehydrate them together? I see pictures of different fruits and veges being dried together, so I am thinking it isn't a problem, but I just wanted to check..
Peggy May 15, 2017
Honestly those are more than likely staged photos as my experience has taught me that strong flavored herbs and vegetables will transfer flavors. I typically stick to one item when I dry stuff such as all tomatoes, all onions, all garlic, etc. The stronger the flavor the more likely you are to have flavor transfers. I might dry say peaches and plums at the same time but not bananas and peaches as bananas become so concentrated as they dry. Hopefully this helps and does not steer you away from giving it a try! If something has a strong flavor when you are cooking with it the greater the possibility there is that it will have a strong odor when being dehydrated. Good luck!
MJHansen May 15, 2017
Thanks so much Peggy, for sharing your experiences with everyone!! I appreciate your time!
rinamay May 14, 2017
Do you think I can use this technique with onions?
Peggy May 14, 2017
It definitely works with onions as well. One word of caution with the onion powder though, if you do not use it quickly it will form a hard clump, still usable but a pain. To date I've dried my own garlic, onions, leeks, mushrooms, tomatoes, tomato skins saved from blanching tomatoes for paste, and fruits. We lived in Alaska for a time and it was an hour drive (one way) to the grocery store during the summer so we only went shopping every two weeks. During the winter it was an even longer drive due to treacherous roads so we only went every 6 weeks. I grew a garden and canned/dried/froze as much as possible so we did not have to buy as much. Now I still keep up the practice but on a much smaller scale.
rinamay May 14, 2017
You're an inspiration. Thank-you!
Peggy May 15, 2017
You are quite welcome! Thank you you are so sweet!
Peggy May 14, 2017
I've been doing this for the past 15 years or so and will never return to store bought. The reason I started was due to an overabundant garlic harvest one year (it's crazy easy to grow). I did not want to waste any so I decided to dry it. Now I keep the dried garlic slivers in a 1 quart mason jar and only grind up a small tins worth every few months. It is crazy pungent!!! Typically I use half as much in recipes.
Sarah J. May 14, 2017
That's so smart to grind as needed! And thanks for the advice in regards to starting with half the amount.
Mary T. May 14, 2017
I agree that the garlic should be ground on an as-needed basis. Thanks for the tip!
Mary T. May 14, 2017
I'm trying this soon (with market garlic), so I'll be ready when I harvest my garlic in midsummer!
krikri May 14, 2017
I like garlic powder for dry spice rubs, or any time I want the flavour without the moisture.
Can anybody tell me why you'd prefer the powder over fresh garlic other times, assuming you have both on hand? Is it just that it's easier?
Diana S. May 14, 2017
Hm. Must try this. But I assume it's a stronger density than the powdered shelf stuff we're all used to. How much more sparingly should you shake it on?
Sarah J. May 14, 2017
It seems like you should start with 1/4 of 1/2 the quantity called for and then go from there!