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9 Quick Substitutes for Garlic and Onion

Garlic and onion are a staple in many recipes, but what do you do when they're not available? Here's a list of nine substitutes you can use to give your dishes that same delicious flavour.

A basket of colourful garlic and onion

Garlic and onion are two of the most common ingredients in a kitchen. They add bunches of flavour to food and give a savoury taste. 


In Ottolenghi FLAVOUR, Yotam says:

"Behind so many delicious dishes, there's often an onion or two at work."

That's great, but what do you do when you run out like I did the other day while making a lasagne for a dinner party. Or perhaps you need to ease up eating them to temporarily manage digestive symptoms like Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). That can be a hard sacrifice if you love cooking with these foods! 

How do we replicate the awesomeness of garlic and onion in cooking without garlic and onion?

The good news is you can still make tasty dishes without them! Let's look at seven quick garlic and onion substitutes to keep those dishes tasting like perfection! 

Tips on How to Cook without Garlic and Onions

Using other herbs, spices, or vegetables can help substitute garlic and onion, adding more flavour and depth to your dishes. 

Let's look at some options now to choose what you think will work best in your dish. Don't be afraid to experiment with a combo-sprinkling of the different suggestions below. It's a fun way to explore food and flavour. 


Rosemary (fresh or dried)

Rosemary is a herb with a flavour profile that is similar to thyme. You can use it in both sweet and savoury dishes. Rosemary has been widely used in the Mediterranean region for centuries and is found in Italian, Greek, Turkish, Moroccan and Lebanese cuisines.

Thyme (fresh or dried)

Thyme is a popular herb used in many cuisines around the world. It has a similar flavour to rosemary, but the leaves are much smaller, and blend in when cooked. 

You can use it in soups, salads, and sauces. Thyme can also be used as an ingredient in meat dishes such as lamb or beef stew or added to butter for bread crumbs or fried chicken.

Fresh Thyme with scissors

Parsley (fresh or dried)

Parsley is a versatile herb used in many dishes and drinks. It has a light, fresh taste with a slight hint of licorice. Parsley is used to season vegetables and soups, add flavours to sauces and dips, or as a meat dish.

As a herb that tastes great on almost anything! It's hard to go past parsley! 

Oregano (fresh or dried)

Oregano is a herb that has a distinct flavour and aroma. It is used in many cuisines, mainly Italian and Mexican.

Oregano has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. It was believed to have the ability to ward off sickness and evil spirits—Interesting, I'll keep that in mind for the next evil spirit that comes my way! 


Black Pepper

Black pepper is a spice used for cooking for thousands of years.

It can also be ground into a powder and mixed with salt to make pepper salt, to sprinkle on hot chips, pizza, eggs, or other dishes to add flavour. Seriously, there are not many savoury dishes that I don't add pepper to! 

Chilli (fresh or flakes)

Chilli peppers are a great addition to any dish. They add flavour, spice, and heat to your meal.

Many different chilli peppers come in all shapes, sizes and colours. They can be mild or spicy, depending on the type you choose. Some people say that they can even help with digestion.

Humans have used chilli peppers for centuries as a food additive, medicine, and religious ceremonies. They are used as a natural insect repellent and make an oil called capsaicin which is used in creams to ease pain from arthritis or other conditions.



And let's not forget good old table salt— a mineral used for cooking and preservation.

Salt has many uses in the kitchen, including a replacement for onion and garlic! You can use it to season meat, vegetables, and other dishes. You can also use it to make a brine for pickling or smoking foods. 

*A quick heads-up. If you have an underlying health condition, stick to salt usage recommendations guided by your health professional ;) 



Carrots are a type of root vegetable that is high in vitamin A. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Carrots have a sweet taste and crunchy texture when cooked but can also be surprisingly sweet when eaten raw, and they add great flavour to a dish when cooked through.


Celery is a vegetable that tastes like a cross between a cucumber and parsley. It used in salads, soups, and as an accompaniment to other foods.

One of the most common uses for celery is replacing onion or garlic in dishes. It has been used this way since the 17th century. Celery also goes well with other vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes, both of which are also found in salads.

*If you are actively managing IBS symptoms, stick with a small amount of celery. 


Okay, onions and garlic, you're not going to hold us back! Let's get cooking. What are your favourite garlic and onion substitutes? Pop them in the comments below. 

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Image Credits: Rawpixel, Sheila Pedraza Burk



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