I’ve personally taste-tested a variety of ginger garlic paste substitutes to find the best one for every cooking occasion.
Whether you’re on the hunt for the closest flavor match, in need of a last-minute pantry substitute, or want a swap that fits your diet, I’ve got the answers.
The best substitute for ginger garlic paste is to mix equal amounts of ginger paste and garlic paste, although it may cost you more. You can also use fresh ginger and garlic, but you’ll need to crush them for best results, especially if you’re making curry.
Ready? Let’s jump right in.
I made small batches of butter chicken to try different ginger garlic paste substitutes.
Ginger and garlic are included in the base of pretty much any Asian or Indian inspired recipe, so having a jar of ready-made ginger garlic paste can come in very handy. It’s a major time-saver and the paste blends nicely into dishes. You won’t get any fibrous bits of ginger or risk burning your garlic.
But what if you’ve run out? Here are the substitutes I tested and my verdicts:
|Substitutes||How to Substitute||Verdict|
|Ginger paste + garlic paste||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||8/10|
|Fresh ginger and garlic||1 tbsp = 2 cloves of garlic and a 1-inch knob of ginger, crushed into a paste or chopped||8/10|
|Homemade ginger garlic paste||Replace in a 1:1 ratio||9/10|
|Garlic powder + ginger powder||1 tbsp =1 tbsp garlic powder + 1 tbsp ginger powder||7/10|
|Alternative herbs and spices||1 tbsp =1 tbsp chives + 1/2 tbsp allspice||5/10|
Ginger paste + garlic paste
Can’t find a jar of ginger garlic paste in the market? Buy separate tubes of ginger paste and garlic paste instead! It’ll cost more initially, but you’ll get double the amount.
Simply mix equal parts of each paste together for your recipe and voilà – instant ginger garlic paste, ready to use for your dishes.
And as a bonus, you can use them for any recipes that call for just ginger or garlic. Now that’s what I call a win-win.
How to substitute: replace ginger garlic paste in a 1:1 ratio with a mixture of ginger paste and garlic paste.
Fresh ginger and garlic
You don’t need to go out and buy any pastes if you have fresh ginger and garlic sitting in your kitchen.
You can quickly chop the aromatics up and throw them into your dish, but I like to go the extra mile and crush the fresh stuff in a mortar and pestle before using it. Turning it into a ‘paste’ means it blends better into sauces and I think it releases more flavor.
How to substitute: replace ginger garlic paste in a 1:1 ratio with 2 cloves of garlic and a 1-inch knob of ginger, crushed into a paste or chopped.
Homemade ginger garlic paste
Want to take your fresh ginger root and garlic cloves to the next level? Make your own ginger garlic paste from scratch. It requires a bit of effort up front, but you’ll always have ready-made ginger garlic paste waiting for you.
But you can’t just crush loads ginger and garlic and call it a day, especially if you’re planning on making a big batch.
My go-to recipe from Subbu Cooks (video instructions above) adds turmeric, a natural antibacterial agent, and salt and oil, to act as preservatives for the paste. With these additions your homemade paste will last up to six months.
You can keep the paste in a jar, but I prefer portioning it out into ice cube trays and freezing it. Then you can pop out a cube of ginger garlic paste whenever you need it.
How to substitute: replace ginger garlic paste in a 1:1 ratio with homemade ginger garlic paste.
Garlic powder + ginger powder
Can’t go on an emergency grocery run? No worries, those bottles of garlic and ginger powder in your spice rack will save the day!
Powdered spices don’t have the same potency as the paste form or their fresh counterparts, but they’ll get the job done in a pinch.
You’ll just have to use a bit more of the powdered spices to mimic the stronger flavor. Both powders easily dissolved into my butter chicken sauce, but you can also mix them with a bit of oil before adding them to your dish.
How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste with 1 tbsp garlic powder + 1 tbsp ginger powder
Alternative herbs and spices
If you want to skip the garlic or ginger altogether there are other herbs and spices that can stand in. They won’t bring the same flavor notes, but they’ll add depth to your dishes.
For garlic you can use chives, green onions, or even fennel.
For ginger you can use other warming spices like all spice, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, mace, or even nutmeg. None of these taste very similar to ginger or have the same spicy bite, but they won’t taste bad in your food! I used all spice in my butter chicken, but only used a pinch at a time so the flavor didn’t get too overwhelming.
If you want to replicate the zing of fresh ginger, a small amount of citrus zest or lemongrass can do the trick.
How to substitute: replace 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste with 1/2 tbsp of the garlic alternative and 1/4 tbsp of the ginger alternative.
Substitutes to avoid
One suggestion for substituting the ginger flavor was pumpkin pie spice blend, but I think it’s too sweet to work in savory dishes.
Pickled ginger and pickled garlic were also suggested. But the flavor of these is much more tangy than regular ginger and can easily overwhelm a dish.
Best Ginger Garlic Paste Substitutes + 3 To Avoid
- 1 ½ cup ginger
- 1 ½ cup garlic
- 2 to 3 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder
- Wash the ginger well and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, peel the tough outer layer. Peel the skin of the garlic pods and cut the brown ends too.
- Place the ginger and garlic cloves into a food processor and pulse until a paste forms. Make sure to scrape the sides.
- Once the paste is done, add the turmeric, salt, and oil. Pulse a few more times then transfer the mixture into a glass jar. You can also portion the paste and freeze it.