How to CookDIY FoodSpicesCondiments & Sauces

How to Make Garlic Powder That Actually Tastes Like Garlic

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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!
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.

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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!
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!
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.