A staple for college kids and busy moms alike, granulated onions and onion powders are great alternatives to fresh given their ease and convenience. However, if you’re anything like me, you might have been confused at the different options on display.
Table of Contents
- The Difference Between Granulated Onion And Onion Powder
- Granulated Onion vs Onion Powder: How Are They Made?
- Preserved Onions: Can I Make Them At Home?
- Granulated Onion vs Onion Powder: Uses
- Granulated Onion vs Onion Powder Equivalent
- Dried Onions: Which Should I Use?
The Difference Between Granulated Onion And Onion Powder
While it is true that there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between granulated onions and onion powder, the tiny discrepancies that they do have can make all the difference to your dishes.
The only true difference between granulated onions and onion powder is the extent to which they have been ground. To put it simply, onion powder is just dried onion that has been ground to a finer consistency than granulated onions.
Despite this difference seeming insignificant at first glance, they do both have slightly different qualities and uses because of it.
Onion Powder Qualities
Onion powder has a much finer texture than granulated onion, making it more suited to certain dishes than other varieties of dried onion. It is the finest variety of onion, though due to the grinding process it loses a little of its potency. This is why you may find onion powder to be slightly weaker than other options.
Granulated Onion Qualities
Granulated onions have a stronger, firmer texture than onion powder. This is because they have been left more intact, having been only ground down to about the size of a grain of sand. Because of this, it tends to retain its flavor. I think one of the best ways to view granulated onions is as a sort of middle child between onion powder and onion flakes.
Onion Flakes And Minced Onion
Onion flakes and minced onions are also dried onions that you can find at the grocery store. They are both made by chopping fresh onions and leaving them to dry out. There is not much difference between these two, the only notable distinction being the way that they’re cut.
Onion flakes are chopped pretty finely, whereas you might find a minced onion to be a little bit chunkier. Flakes may also come in long, fine, semi-circle strips in some brands. They have the same flavor profile and potency and will generally provide the same texture once cooked.
Crispy onions are different in that they have been cooked. They’re also used differently – usually as a topping rather than an actual seasoning or ingredient in a dish.
Granulated Onion vs Onion Powder: How Are They Made?
Molcajete and tejolote, mortar and pestle, ricer, mincer, food processor, blender; whichever name you know these useful tools by, they’re the best for mincing, chopping and grinding down onions of any kind!
All varieties of dried onions (save for crispy onions) are made by cutting up onions in some form and then drying them out – either naturally or through a process of artificial dehydration. If making granulated onions or onion powder, the next step is to grind that dehydrated onion into oblivion! The onions may be dried once more after this to ensure that they are well preserved, but this is not always done.
Preserved Onions: Can I Make Them At Home?
You can absolutely dry onions at home! The best part of drying them yourself is that you’ll have complete control over the shape, texture, and fineness. In addition to this, they’ll last you far longer than fresh onions!
How To Make Granulated Onion And Onion Powder
- For Minced Onions And Onion Flakes…
- First, take your onions (as many as you’d like!) and peel them.
- Cut the onions in half and half again, then throw them into your food processor. Pulse until you’re happy with the texture. Alternatively, you can cut them by hand if you’d like a specific shape.
- Lay out some baking paper into an edged tray, then add your minced onions to it. Pop them into the oven at 100 – 130 °F until completely dry. If you’re using a food dehydrator, follow the same instructions.
- For Onion Powder And Granules…
- To make ground dry onions, let them cool completely first.
- After this, grind them using a mortar and pestle or some adjacent tool. Grind them until you’re happy with the size that they’re at.
- If you want finer ground onions, keep grinding your onion granules to make onion powder.
I’ve also linked this video below for a visual demonstration of how to make your own onion powder! It showcases the difference between oven-made vs dehydrated and some different tools you may find useful.
Granulated Onion vs Onion Powder: Uses
Onion powder is generally the more versatile of the two – its great used in both textured dishes and broths.
However, granulated onion may be preferable in certain dishes precisely for it’s texture – the same goes for minced onions and onion flakes, though they aren’t used in exactly the same way.
The best way I can think of to demonstrate this is by using ramen as an example.
Onion powder works great with ramen, as it can easily be dissolved into the broth. If you’re looking to add a little texture, half-moon style onion flakes tend to be a better choice than granulated. This is because granulated onions don’t really dissolve, and their texture can be unpleasant in something like a broth – the same goes for minced onions, to a lesser extent. Obviously, this is dependent on personal taste, but I’ve found it to be the case with most people.
Granulated and minced onions work best with something a little more textured, like meatballs or meatloaf. They do best in these sorts of dishes as they can add flavor and texture without seeming out of place.
Can You Substitute Onion Powder For Granulated Onion?
It’s easy to substitute onion powder for granulated onion! Just check the ‘Granulated Onion vs Onion Powder Equivalent‘ section below. As for the other way round… That can be a little more tricky.
Granulated onion can give some dishes a ‘grainy’ mouthfeel that some find to be unpleasant. A simple way to substitute granulated onion for onion powder is by grinding down a little granulated onion until it’s about the consistency of onion powder. This can be done in a myriad of ways, but the simplest is with a blender, or a mortar and pestle!
What Can You Use Instead Of Onion Granules?
To substitute onion granules, you can use some onion powder or fresh onion! There will be no difference taste-wise, but it may not achieve the same texture as you desired from the granules. To remedy this, try grinding down some minced onion or onion flakes instead – if you have any at hand, of course. If not, you may have to sacrifice that texture, unless you plan on making your own granulated onions.
Can I Use Onion Powder Instead Of Onion Flakes?
Similarly, you can use onion powder instead of flakes but they’re unlikely to provide the same texture as onion flakes. If you aren’t willing to sacrifice this, you can make your own onion flakes by thinly slicing an onion and putting it in the oven on a paper-lined baking tray. If you are drying the onion flakes for immediate use, you will not have to dry them for as long, and you might even be able to get away with using a higher heat! The whole point of onions is to preserve them, which is why they must be dried for a long time under low heat. If you’re drying them only for the texture, this will not be an issue.
Granulated Onion vs Onion Powder Equivalent
How Much Onion Powder Is Equivalent To Granulated Onion?
Even though onion powder isn’t quite as strong as granulated onions, its size allows it to compact far more so you need less to achieve a similar taste. The general rule of thumb is to follow a ratio of around 1 : 1⁄2 of granulated onion to onion powder. For instance, if you wanted to substitute a tablespoon of onion granules, you would only need half a tablespoon of onion powder to do so.
What About Other Dried Onions?
It is difficult to find an exact ratio to use between minced onions, flakes, and granulated/powdered. It is harder to quantify the amount of flavor onion flakes would provide as they are not in a concentrated or compact form. The best thing to do would be to add them to your dish slowly and try them until the flavor and texture are to your taste. If however, you’d like to find out how much minced onion is equal to one onion, or how many onion flakes make up an onion, that is far easier.
Dried Onions: Which Should I Use?
Personally, I would recommend choosing your dried onion around the dishes you aim to use them in. Onion powder works well for sauces, dressings, and broths, but granulated onions are much better to use in textured dishes where they can provide a rustic feel.
Read more about measuring ingredients you might need on Cooks Dream!