Garlic Powder Doesn't Deserve Its Bad Reputation

You rushed home from work, you're exhausted, and you just want to plop down on the couch and watch some Netflix. But first, you have to make dinner to satisfy the rumbling in your tummy. As anyone who has been in this position knows, there are just some nights (or every night) when cooking shortcuts are much appreciated. And for those evenings when peeling and mincing garlic cloves sounds like more effort than you can muster, garlic powder can be an invaluable asset to have in your kitchen cabinet.

Garlic powder is simply dried, ground garlic cloves, and thus is a little milder than fresh garlic, but still retains all its nutrients (via Spiceography). According to Planted Magazine, ⅛ teaspoon of garlic powder can substitute for one garlic clove. Not only is garlic powder a time-saving solution, but it's also a cheaper alternative that can last for months in your pantry, doesn't burn in a hot pan like minced garlic does, and doesn't alter the moisture levels in your dish (via Simply Recipes).

Despite these exemplary qualities, garlic powder has its fair share of haters. The LA Times reports that much of the backlash came from restaurant kitchens and food media, influenced by the favoritism of fresh ingredients in the farm-to-table movement. And while there is a time and place for fresh garlic, its powdered form is worth more than some give it credit for.

Garlic powder bias has racial and classist undertones

My Recipes notes that for dishes that rely heavily on garlic flavor, like tomato sauces or pesto, it may behoove you to opt for fresh cloves. However, in most dinner situations, powdered will do just fine.

Many arguments against garlic powder actually have nothing to do with flavor. Epicurious reports that a lot of the bias has racial and classist undertones, as garlic powder is a staple in the Black community and widely used by people who can't afford to buy fresh cloves for every meal. "I do think there is a definite class bias," culinary historian and writer Michael W. Twitty told Epicurious, noting that many Black cookbooks include garlic powder in their recipes. Ethan Frisch, co-founder of spice company Burlap & Barrel, told the Washington Post, "Garlic powder got a bad reputation because it was seen as being associated with the type of cooking that fine-dining chefs didn't have a lot of respect for." And while professional chefs may have the means to consistently use fresh garlic, it's important to consider the benefits the powder brings to home cooks, who may have less time and money for food.

For us at home, garlic powder is nothing to shy away from. And if you want to enhance its flavor even more, check out this garlic powder hack.