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Can you substitute garlic for onions in recipes? I prefer the flavor of garlic to the flavor of onion, maybe because I don't love onions' sweet notes.

Almost all savory recipes call for onions, which I don't love, probably because onions are kind of sweet. I know I could just leave them out. But I do want flavorful dishes. And I love the flavor of garlic. Is it possible to use garlic instead? I know that garlic is more pungent than onion, and so I suspect substituting garlic for onion will take a bit of sophistication.

asked by Kirra Hyde 6 months ago
5 answers 565 views
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QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

At the end of the day, it depends on the dish. But there is a certain quality onions bring to the dish, there is a reason why onion is considered a core ingredient. So perhaps you could significantly reduce the amount of the onions, but keep a bare minimum, to give dish a life. Do you have a particular recipe you would like to change? If you can share the recipe(s), I am pretty sure the community will come up with great ideas.

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PHIL

PHIL is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

I agree with QueenSashy, depends on the dish but why not try Shallots? they give you the onion/garlic flavor you may be looking for. I actually like them better than onions.

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cv
added 6 months ago

At the end of the day, you're the one who is going to eat it, not us. If you don't like the sweetness of onions, don't use them and avoid recipes that call for large quantities of onions.

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added 6 months ago

My mother was an excellent cook and refused to be in the same room with an onion (or shallot for that matter-commercially available shallots are mostly hybrids with an onion anyway), but it's not a matter of simple substitution- there's a considerable art to balancing dishes with an important ingredient left out. Garlic, while fairly close to onions botanically, is really not at all similar from a culinary standpoint.

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added 6 months ago

I agree with the suggestions of shallots, and I'd like to add that the variety of onion that you're using can have a HUGE impact on sweetness!
Vidalia, Candy Cane, or "Sweet" onions are common and crazy sweet; some have 16% sugar which is the same as the sweetest apples! (Source: Robinson, Eating on the Wild Side, p. 58) I'd say your palate is spot on for detecting that sweetness.

More savory, pungent red and yellow onions will be better suited to your tastes. (Western Yellow is a good 'un.) Staying in the allium family, substituting leeks or perhaps scallions could work depending on the dish.