7 Substitutes For Onions And Garlic

Last Updated on Feb 21, 2024 by HappyDieter

If you’re seeking to enhance your dishes without using onions, garlic, shallots, and spices, we have the perfect solutions for you. From leeks and garlic chives to fennel and celery, these substitutes for onions and garlic will take your meals to the next level. Whether you’re avoiding these ingredients due to allergies or just want a change, this list will ensure you can prepare delicious meals without compromising on the savory flavors.

In this listicle, we’ll explore versatile foods and spice mix that can bring depth and complexity to your recipes while keeping things interesting in the kitchen. Get ready to experiment with new foods and oils that might just become your new favorites. Scroll down for reviews of our top picks.

Key Takeaways

  • Experiment with Fennel: Fennel can be a flavorful substitute for onions, garlic, and asafoetida in dishes, adding a subtle licorice taste.

  • Utilize Celery for Depth: Celery can provide a savory base similar to onions and garlic, enhancing the flavor profile of your recipes.

  • Add Sweetness with Bell Peppers: Bell peppers offer a mild sweetness that can replace the flavor complexity of onions and garlic in cooking.

  • Explore the Unique Flavor ofAsafetida: Asafetida, also known as “hing” or asafoetida, is a potent spice that can mimic the pungency of onions and garlic in vegetarian dishes.

  • Enhance Dishes with Cumin: Cumin not only adds a warm, earthy flavor but can also serve as a substitute for the aromatic qualities of onions and garlic.

  • Infuse Dishes with Chives: Chives bring a mild onion-like flavor to dishes and can be used as a garnish or ingredient in place of onions and garlic.

  • Introduce the Zing of Ginger: Ginger offers a spicy, aromatic kick that can replace the depth of flavor provided by onions and garlic in various recipes.

7 Substitutes For Onions And Garlic

1. Fennel

Fennel offers a mild licorice flavor that can enhance dishes subtly, avoiding overwhelming other ingredients. When sliced and sautéed, fennel bulbs serve as a great alternative to onions in various recipes, imparting a unique taste profile.

Ground fennel seeds are an excellent substitute for garlic powder, adding depth to dishes like stews or quinoa salads without the pungency of fresh garlic. This versatility makes fennel a valuable addition to many recipes where garlic or onions are typically used.

By incorporating fennel and onion into your cooking, you not only diversify flavors but also experiment with new aromatic profiles in your dishes. Its compatibility with different cooking fats and oils allows for seamless integration into various culinary creations while catering to dietary preferences like high FODMAP diets.

Incorporating this flavorful herb can elevate the taste of your meals while providing an interesting twist on traditional onion and garlic-based recipes.

2. Celery

Celery is a versatile ingredient that can be an excellent substitute for onions and garlic in various dishes. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Enhanced Flavor: Celery and onion provide a subtle yet savory flavor that can elevate the taste of soups, stews, and other meals.

  • Base Ingredient: Chopped celery stalks make a great base alternative to onions in recipes like soups and stews.

  • Garnish Option: Utilize celery leaves as a garnish to add a touch of freshness to your culinary creations.

Incorporating celery into your cooking not only adds depth to the flavor profile but also offers additional health benefits due to its high water content and essential nutrients. Give this onion and garlic substitute a try next time you’re looking for a flavorful twist in your dishes!

3. Bell peppers

Bell peppers are a versatile ingredient that can mimic the flavors and textures of onions in various dishes. When sautéed, onions offer a sweet yet slightly tangy taste that complements many recipes.

  • Sautéed bell peppers provide a similar texture to onions in stir-fries, enhancing the overall dish with their crunchiness.

  • In salads or salsas, finely diced bell peppers serve as an excellent crunchy substitute for onions, adding both flavor and color to the dish.

Bell peppers not only offer a unique taste profile but also bring added health benefits to your meals. They are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, making them a nutritious choice for enhancing your dishes without compromising on flavor.

For those looking to avoid using onions due to personal preference or dietary restrictions, bell peppers present an ideal alternative. Whether you’re preparing hot dishes like curries or cold options like salads, incorporating bell peppers can elevate your culinary creations while catering to different tastes and preferences seamlessly.

4. Asafetida

Asafetida, commonly known as “hing,” is a popular substitute for onions and garlic in Indian cooking due to its strong flavor profile. This spice boasts a pungent aroma that can mimic the savory essence of these common ingredients.

Adding just a small pinch of asafetida powder while cooking can infuse your dishes with a unique umami taste reminiscent of onions and garlic. Its potent nature means that only a tiny amount is needed to achieve the desired flavor effect.

In Indian cuisine, particularly vegetarian dishes where onions and garlic are avoided, asafetida plays an essential role in providing depth and complexity to recipes without compromising on taste. It offers an excellent solution for those looking to replicate the flavors typically derived from onions and garlic.

5. Cumin

Cumin, with its warm and earthy flavor profile, serves as an excellent substitute for onions and garlic in dishes. Here are some insightful ways to incorporate cumin into your cooking:

  • Ground cumin can be a valuable addition to spice blends or marinades, enhancing the overall aroma of your dish.

  • Toasted cumin seeds offer a unique texture and flavor when crushed and sprinkled over various recipes.

By using cumin creatively in your cooking process, you can achieve depth and richness akin to that provided by onions and garlic. Whether in curries, soups, or even salad dressings, this versatile spice adds complexity without overpowering other flavors. Experimenting with different quantities of cumin allows you to tailor the intensity according to your taste preferences.

Remember that while cumin can mimic some aspects of onions and garlic, it may not replicate their exact taste profiles. However, its ability to enhance dishes with its distinct warmth makes it a go-to option for those seeking alternatives due to dietary restrictions or personal preference.

6. Chives

Chives, part of the onion family, provide a subtle onion-like flavor ideal for those seeking a milder alternative to onions and garlic. When finely chopped, chives serve as an excellent garnish or seasoning in place of traditional onions or garlic.

Chive blossoms present another dimension to this versatile herb. They can be utilized to infuse oils or vinegar with a delicate yet distinctive onion taste, enhancing the flavors of dressings, sauces, and marinades.

By incorporating chives into your dishes, you not only introduce a fresh twist but also benefit from their nutritional value. Chives are rich in essential vitamins like A and C while being low in calories—a win-win for both flavor and health-conscious cooking.

Next time you’re preparing a dish that calls for onions or garlic but need a more subdued taste profile, consider reaching for chives as your go-to substitute. Their unique flavor profile can elevate various recipes without overpowering other ingredients.

7. Ginger

Ginger is a versatile spice that can add a zesty and slightly spicy flavor to your dishes, making it an excellent alternative to onions and garlic. Here are some key points about using ginger as a substitute:

  • Flavor Enhancement: Grated or minced ginger works wonders in stir-fries, curries, or marinades, providing a vibrant taste profile similar to the depth offered by onions and garlic.

  • Refreshing Kick: Unlike the pungency of onions and garlic, ginger offers a mellow yet impactful hint of spiciness that can elevate your recipes.

  • Balanced Addition: When incorporating ginger into your cooking, you’ll find that it complements other flavors harmoniously without dominating the dish.

Next time you’re looking to replace onions and garlic in your cooking while still maintaining rich flavors, consider reaching for this root spice with its unique taste profile. Its ability to enhance dishes subtly makes it a great way to introduce variety into your meals without overpowering them.


You’ve now discovered a range of flavorful substitutes for onions and garlic, from the subtle sweetness of fennel to the zesty kick of ginger. Each option brings its unique twist to your dishes, allowing you to experiment and find what works best for your taste buds. Whether you’re looking to enhance the depth of flavor or accommodate dietary restrictions, these alternatives offer a versatile solution in the kitchen.

So, next time you find yourself out of onions or garlic, don’t fret! Embrace the culinary adventure and try incorporating fennel, celery, bell peppers, asafetida, cumin, chives, or ginger into your recipes. Get creative, trust your palate, and enjoy the process of discovering new flavors in your cooking journey!


Is fennel a good substitute for onions and garlic?

Yes, fennel can be a great substitute for onions and garlic in recipes. Its licorice-like flavor adds a unique twist to dishes while providing a similar aromatic profile.

Can celery replace onions and garlic in cooking?

Absolutely! Celery offers a mild, herbaceous flavor that can work well as a replacement for onions and garlic. It adds freshness to dishes without overpowering other ingredients.

Are bell peppers effective substitutes for onions and garlic?

Bell peppers are excellent substitutes due to their sweet and slightly tangy taste. They add depth to dishes like stir-fries or sauces, mimicking the flavors of onions and garlic.

How does using asafetida compare to using onions and garlic?

Asafetida is commonly used in Indian cuisine as an onion-garlic alternative. It has a pungent aroma when raw but imparts savory umami notes when cooked, resembling the flavors of both ingredients.

Can cumin be used instead of onions and garlic?

While not identical in flavor, cumin’s earthy warmth can complement dishes needing onion-garlic flavor profiles. Use it sparingly alongside other substitutes for balanced results.

7 Substitutes For Onions And Garlic