When It's Best To Use Garlic Powder Over Fresh Cloves

We all have that friend who shudders at the thought of using pre-minced garlic from the jar, while others may vouch for the convenience and long shelf life of a few dashes of garlic powder. Contrary to popular belief though, one size does not fit all when it comes to garlic and you shouldn't rely on personal preference.

Depending on the preparation, one form of garlic may be more suitable for bringing that pungent flavor than the other. This means there are times when garlic powder can actually be a cut above the fresh allium (shocking, we know). For example, fresh garlic burns much quicker than garlic powder, making it less ideal in preparations that involve high-heat cooking. Plus, you wouldn't want chunky pieces of garlic cloves in a dry spice rub now, would you? Next time you reach for a particular form of garlic, think before you add it to your dish because there's more to factor in than convenience or preference.

Use garlic powder for a more subtle flavor

It's best to use garlic powder when you're making a dish with several other seasonings since it has a more subtle flavor. It's also better to use garlic powder when the allium needs to be added in the middle or end rather than the beginning of a dish, as adding raw cloves at this stage will likely result in a more punchy flavor than what you're going for.

Garlic powder is also much safer for sous vide cooking which involves cooking food in a warm anaerobic condition where there's a lack of oxygen. Raw garlic cooked in such conditions may be prone to botulism, so it's best to keep it far away from the sous vide machine. Additionally, the flavor of raw garlic cloves has a way of intensifying with time, which may not be ideal, depending on the dish.

Stay away from fresh cloves in these scenarios

One of the main reasons why fresh garlic cloves are preferred over powder is the punchy, in-your-face flavor. When you're cooking a dish where garlic is meant to be the shining ingredient, the subdued flavor of garlic powder simply won't cut it. Let's say you're making a batch of pesto where garlic is but one of six or so ingredients, or simmering a pot of garlicky pasta sauce where you want the allium to announce its presence, the intense flavor of fresh cloves is what you want.

A misconception about fresh garlic is that it leaves the same bold flavor wherever it goes, which can often be overpowering when used in the wrong place. This, however, isn't the case because the way you prep a fresh garlic clove will change its flavor. Chopped and crushed garlic both release a mild flavor that will infuse into the food gradually. Minced garlic, on the other hand, is what will give off a strong flavor instantly. If the intensity of fresh cloves is the reason why go for garlic powder instead, prepping them properly will go a long way in helping you get the right kind of garlicky flavor in your food.