I Tried as Many Jars of Garlic Powder as I Could Get My Hands On — This Is the One I’ll Be Buying from Now On

updated Aug 26, 2021
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A spice dish of garlic powder with fresh garlic
Credit: MSPhotographic/Getty Images

Any garlic lover (that’s me!) will tell you that there’s a place for fresh garlic and the powdered stuff. While you can’t really use garlic powder as a direct substitute for fresh garlic, you’ll need it for dry rubsspice blends, and more. I buy a lot of garlic powder, but believe it or not, I have yet to find my go-to brand of it.

I used to just buy the first jar I found and called it a day. But during the pandemic, with more time on my hands than ever before, I decided that, if I’m going to spend my money on something that I use relatively often, I should invest in the very best I can get. I bought up every jar on offer at my local grocery store, and then picked up one more jar at Trader Joe’s. And then I performed a taste test.

Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig; Food and Prop Styling: Catrine Kelty

How I Tested the Garlic Powders

While I do use garlic powder quite a bit to season soups and various multi-ingredient dishes, I didn’t think making six different batches of a particular recipe would have revealed which garlic powder is best. Because I usually don’t just use garlic powder on its own when seasoning veggies (I like to combine a whole bunch of things), I figured making six trays of Brussels sprouts wasn’t right either. And eating a spoonful of each was definitely out of the question. So, to find out which garlic powder reigned supreme, I decided to make six different slices of basic garlic toast, using toast, butter, and a few shakes of garlic powder. 

The biggest takeaway from my extremely garlicky afternoon? Unlike with jarred garlic, there isn’t that big of a difference between the different powders on the market. Of course, there were a couple of garlic powders that stood out — in both good and bad ways. One piece of toast barely tasted like garlic at all; one brand shook out in big clumps, which made for an unpleasant bite; and another had a slightly bitter aftertaste. The rest were all satisfactory, but there was one that stood out above the rest.

Credit: Kendall Wenaas

The Best Garlic Powder: Trader Joe’s California Garlic Powder, $1.99 for 2.6 ounces

Even though all the garlic powders I tried were relatively comparable (there isn’t one that’s going to, say, totally mess up your soup), Trader Joe’s California Garlic Powder edged out the others. It had the strongest garlicky flavor, without of course the spice or bite of fresh garlic. (If you’re looking for spice or bite, your best bet is to use fresh cloves. Or these frozen cubes.) This option also had a super-smooth, finely ground texture, and didn’t stick to my mouth at all, which I also appreciated. Overall, you can’t go totally wrong with any of the garlic powders on the market, but I’ll be buying mine at TJ’s from now on.

Note: If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, you can find it online (at a premium) at Walmart, for $8.27 and Amazon for $6.39.

What are your thoughts on garlic powder? Do you have a favorite brand?