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What is Onion Powder?

Onion Powder Spice


Granulated onion powder is a culinary spice created by dehydrating onions then grinding them to a fine powder. Onion powder has a long shelf life with concentrated flavor and can quickly be added to dishes to add depth and umami. 

What does onion powder taste like?

Onion powder provides a similar flavor of fresh onions with a concentrated flavor profile and nutrient content. An essential base profile for savory recipes, the seasoning should have a sharp aroma with a hint of sweetness. The flavor is pungent with profiles of sweetness, sulfur, and a hint of garlic.

Onion Powder Uses

Onion powder is readily available at most large supermarkets or can be homemade using a dehydrator and a food processor. Simply place peeled and sliced onions onto a dehydrator tray and dry completely, then transfer to a food processor and blitz until a fine powder. As a convenient flavoring agent without water content, the spice commonly is used for marinades, dry-rubs, snacks, sauces, soups, stews, gravies, ready-made products, dressings, meat seasoning, and spice mixes. 

The two main benefits of onion powder are its convenient quick application and the opportunities available when using a dried product compared to a fresh onion. The powder form is an adequate replacement in most recipes for fresh onions, with one tablespoon of onion powder being equal to half a cup of fresh chopped onion.

Onion Powder Substitutes 

  • Fresh White Onion: identical in flavor but contains moisture which will have a different effect on ingredients than onion powder. The best method to most similarly replicate onion powder is to grate the onion then strain off the extra water content.
  • Onion Salt: a popular supermarket product which is a combination of onion powder and salt. By reducing salt from the original recipe this ingredient should be able to match the originally intended powder only quantity.
  • Dehydrated Onion Flakes: can be used interchangeably as a dried alternative or blended in a food processor to create the powder variety.

Compliments and Pairings 

Onions are likely the world’s most widely used ingredients and the savory application of onion powder can be complementary to a vast range of dishes and ingredients. Examples include garlic, meat, fish, potato, bacon, cheese, cream, milk, sour cream, oil, thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, oregano, mushroom, egg, chili, cinnamon, aubergine, cauliflower, pepper, rice, spinach, tomato, almost any savory meat, vegetable, or fish dish.

Expiration and Storage

  • Dried and Ground Onion: store dehydrated onions in an airtight container away from moisture and direct sunlight and use within 2-3 years.

Where does onion powder come from?

According to the National Onion Association it is generally believed that onions originated in central Asia. Since the cultivation of wild onions the vegetable is now found to grow and consumed throughout the world. Popular varieties of onion can be found year-round and powders include the colors; red, yellow, brown, and white. The origin of onion powder is thought to be in the Middle East, with Egypt having the strongest evidence and longest record of the use of the spice. Drying onions has been a historic method of preservation to sustain the use of the vegetable throughout the year. The spice has also become a key ingredient found in Mexican seasoning for authentic tasting home cooking.

Fun Facts

  • Onions have been cultivated for 5000 years or more, as a staple in the prehistoric diet.
  • Ancient Egyptians worshipped onions as a symbol of eternity, burying onions alongside pharaohs. 
  • Greek olympians believed in the dietary powers of onions so much so that the athletes would consume pounds of onions, drink onion juice and rub onions on their bodies before a competition.
  • The United States of America is the largest producer of onion powder, other major producers include India, Egypt, and China. 
  • For more fun facts and trivia visit wikipedia.

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Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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