Fresh onions are an essential ingredient in the kitchen, providing flavor and aroma to various aromatic combinations. Although fresh vegetables can't always be replaced in cooking, there are plenty of recipes that benefit from the taste of onion but don't require them to be freshly chopped. Stews, meatloaf, dressings, dips, and burgers are all perfect examples. Onion flakes or onion powder both offer delicious onion flavor and are super-convenient to use. There is no need for time-consuming chopping, and you can say goodbye to the onion tears!
A commonly asked question is what's the difference between onion flakes and onion powder? Do they taste the same, offering similar levels of potency? Can they be used interchangeably in cooking? Let's dive in and compare these two seasonings.
What is the difference between onion flakes and powder?
Onion flakes and onion powder are both seasonings used in cooking for adding onion flavor to food. Onion flakes are made by mincing fresh onions then dehydrating; onion powder takes fresh onions and dehydrates, air dries, or freeze-dries the vegetables before crushing into a powder. Whichever option you choose they both offer a subtle taste of onion and most brands use 100% onions with no additional ingredients added.
- Both seasonings can usually be found in the spice aisle of the grocery store
- They are a convenient, hassle-free replacement for fresh onions and are perfect as a lightweight option for camping.
- Onion powder is ground finer than onion flakes and can be used in smaller quantities as it has a more potent flavor.
- Both can be made from white, yellow, or red onions. Learn more about onion varieties here.
Onion flakes and onion powder can be used interchangeably; however, keep in mind that they have different levels of potency. To replace one teaspoon of onion powder use one tablespoon of onion flakes.
Summary of onion substitutions
|Replace this||With this|
|1 teaspoon onion powder||1 tablespoon onion flakes|
|1 teaspoon onion powder||3 tablespoons fresh onion|
|1 teaspoon onion powder||½ fresh small onion|
|1 teaspoon onion powder||1 teaspoon onion salt|
|1 tablespoon onion flakes||3 tablespoons jarred minced onion|
|1 tablespoon onion flakes||½ fresh small onion|
|1 tablespoon onion flakes||1 teaspoon onion salt|
Onion flakes are sold in jars or bags containing small wispy pieces of onions that are easily re-hydrated once added to liquid. The consistency can vary from small bits through to larger chunks depending on the brand. Onion powder is also sold in jars or bags and can range from a fine to chunky powder.
Onion flakes: During processing, onion flakes take on richer, sweeter, toastier flavor than fresh onions. Add them to casseroles, burgers, stews, soups, dips, eggs, and any other food that benefits from punchy onion taste. It is best to use the flakes in food that has moisture to help reconstitute the dried onions.
Onion powder: Use onion powder in much the same way that you would use onion flakes. They also work well as a seasoning sprinkled over pizza, chicken, and pasta. Onion flakes are ideal for use as a meat rub and are a primary ingredient in beau monde seasoning.
Keep in mind that flavor intensity and texture are the two factors that set onion flakes and powder apart. Onion powder carries a stronger flavor than flakes so if you're looking to substitute one for the other, consider the quantities. Also, onion flakes will add texture to your food which may not always be ideal. For example, do you want to add chunky bits to your onion dip? If not, onion powder is your best option.
Storing onion flakes or onion powder properly will help extend their shelf life and keep their flavor and quality for longer. They should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place such as a pantry or cupboard. Never store seasonings near heat such as a conventional oven.
Try to avoid shaking onion powder or flakes into your food as steam from the pan can get into the container, causing the seasoning to clump and lose quality. Instead, shake the spice into a spoon away from the stove-top.
Other related questions
Are minced onion and onion flakes the same thing?
Minced onions and onion flakes are both made from fresh onions that are dehydrated. They provide the same texture once cooked, but flakes are finely chopped whereas minced onion is chunkier.
Do onion powder and onion salt differ in flavor?
Onion salt is made by combining onion powder and salt with an anti-caking agent to keep it from clumping. Although they taste similar, onion salt will provide extra sodium. If you prefer to control the salt levels in your food, you may prefer using onion powder.
Is onion flakes or onion powder healthier?
Onion flakes and onion powder are a healthy option for flavoring food without dialing up the sodium levels. One tablespoon of onion flakes provides less than 0.1g of fat, 4.2 carbs, and 1mg of sodium. For a similar taste, onion salt will only require one teaspoon. This serving size provides less than 0.1g of fat, 5.5 carbohydrates, and 5mg of sodium. They are also both low in sugar and calories. Source.
What are some useful pearl onion substitutes?
Onion powder and flakes are both convenient options for adding onion flavor to food without the hassle of having to chop, slice, or dice. Although they'll never replace fresh onions next time you make a mirepoix or sofrito, they can be kept in the spice rack for any recipe requiring a burst of onion flavor.
They are similar ingredients, both made from 100% fresh onions. The powder provides a stronger oniony taste and should be used in smaller doses than flakes. Another difference is the texture, with flakes providing added chunky pieces to recipes. Whether that is suitable for your next dish will mostly come down to personal preference.
What are you looking to use onion seasoning for in your next recipe? Please let us know in the comments below.