Ginger can do wonders for food. This versatile spice can work with a whole variety of food and cuisine. Ginger bread, ginger beer, and several dishes in the Indian, Asian, Caribbean, and European cuisine depend on it. Considering ginger’s impressive range and use, what are the options for ginger substitutes?
The spice has a unique and peppery taste and its aroma is quite distinctive. The smart money is on always having some ginger available for your cooking, but even then there’s a possibility of occasionally needing substitutes.
So, here are your best options.
Top Substitutes For Ginger
1. Candied Ginger
Candied ginger is amazing as a treat. This is ginger that has first been soaked and cooked in sugar water and then rolled in sugar again. The whole process takes the edge off the conventional ginger sharpness and gives it a milder and sweeter flavor.
This makes candied ginger a good choice for baked foods. Yet, if you want the same flavor, you’ll have to use a fair bit more candied ginger. Do a taste test where necessary, but perhaps you’ll have to use four to five times the amount of candied ginger as compared to conventional ginger.
2. Ginger Powder
Ginger powder is more concentrated in flavor as compared to normal/fresh ginger and it’s not as spicy either. That said, this is the best option to get close to the ginger flavor amongst all the substitutes.
Considering that ginger powder is more concentrated, use less of it in the recipe. There’s no set formula, but try going with half the amount of ginger powder as compared to the quantity of fresh ginger.
So far, I’ve included ginger alternatives that include ginger as an ingredient. But what if you’d want an alternative without any ginger? Well, allspice will fit the bill rather nicely.
Also known as Jamaican pepper, this spice has a nice warming feel accompanied by a mildly spicy and sweet flavor. As its name implies, allspice tastes like a blend of several spices. While it isn’t an exact replacement for ginger, it does the job suitably well and provides a flavorful touch to the food.
When using allspice, start with half the amount of ginger required by the recipe. Increase the amount to be a 1:1 replacement if necessary.
Learn more: Best Allspice Substitutes For Your Kitchen
When in their plant root form, ginger and turmeric have a strikingly similar appearance. The similarity in appearance ends there. Peel or cut them, and you’d see the bright yellow color of turmeric. Both of these spices are pretty common in Indian cuisine.
Turmeric and ginger have different tastes. However, turmeric’s mild bitter flavor and warming feel can bridge the gap left by the lack of garlic. Keep in mind, using turmeric will add that bright yellow color to food, thus significantly changing its appearance.
The sweet and spicy cinnamon can soldier up to replace ginger. Cinnamon can work with desserts, baked goods, and even savory recipes. While it’s primarily used as a seasonal spice around Christmas and the holidays in the west, it is a staple in many Indian and Asian dishes.
Cinnamon’s warming feel matches up nicely with ginger, while its sweetness adds another dimension to the flavor.
Much like cinnamon, nutmeg is an acceptable substitution for ginger. It has a warming feel accompanied by a sweet and spicy flavor. You can use nutmeg with its whole seeds. Alternatively, grate or grind the seeds to get a more powdery feel.
Many people prefer going the powdered route to distribute the flavor equally. Using whole seeds is good too, but you might occasionally get the seed in your mouth while eating. Don’t get the wrong idea, the seed is delicious and flavorful! But some dishes may not appreciate the mouthfeel and/or burst of flavor from individual seeds.
Galangal is a root commonly used in South-East Asian cuisine. It’s warming and flavorful, which is what makes it a good substitute for ginger. It’s often considered a cross between ginger and turmeric, which places it at just the right spot for this substitution!
The biggest problem with using Galangal for those in the west is its availability. This ingredient is tough to find and is rare even in specialty shops.
8. Pumpkin Pie Spice
Look at pumpkin pie spice when you find yourself with a thorough lack of options. And you’ll find that it’s a surprisingly effective choice here! The main ingredients of the pumpkin pie spice are nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. And as it turns out, all of these are also acceptable replacements for ginger!
You might find that this spice changes the color of the recipe, but it’s not severe, so it might be acceptable for the recipe. Start by using a small amount (half of the amount of ginger needed) and increase it as necessary.
Ginseng is another root popular with East Asian cuisine and is seen as a healthy and tasteful choice. Its looks and taste are somewhat similar to ginger. Interestingly, ginseng manages to show off touches of sweetness and even some bitterness.
Use it with some care and start with small quantities. Although, it should be noted that while ginseng is not very difficult to find in the west, it is way more expensive than ginger.
10. Cardamom And Turmeric
Cardamom and turmeric make an interesting combo that can cover the lack of ginger in a recipe. Turmeric, as we know, offers some warmth and a touch of bitter flavor. Mix it with cardamom, and you’ve got a fresh flavor in the mix. This combination can work as a decent substitute, though it will likely affect the color of the recipe.
Mace comes from the same tree as nutmeg. In fact, on the tree, mace is the coating on nutmeg! The two related spices can also serve the purpose of replacing ginger. Mace adds some warmth to the recipe and has a wonderful aroma and sweet taste.
12. Other Ginger Products (Pickled Ginger, Minced Ginger, Ginger Paste)
It is entirely possible to replace fresh ginger with other ginger products like pickled ginger, minced ginger, and ginger paste. All of these retain their original flavor, but with some changes. Therefore, some care will be necessary on the amount to use.
For example, pickled ginger takes on a subtler flavor, but is more savory. Ginger paste tends to be stronger and more concentrated than regular ginger.
FAQs And More On Ginger And Its Substitutions
What Is The Shelf Life Of Ginger?
Ginger can last pretty long. Even when stored in the pantry, it will easily last more than a week. Do not store ginger directly in a refrigerator. First, place it in a Ziploc bag and remove all the air. You can place this bag in the crisper of the refrigerator.
If you have frozen ginger, it can last months. In this case, use a freezer bag or freezer-safe container to hold the ginger. There’s no need to thaw it before using, as frozen ginger grates easily.
These methods assume you’re storing fresh, uncut ginger. If the ginger you have is wrinkly and soft, it won’t last long. If the ginger’s been cut, it can still be stored, but it won’t last as long as fresh, uncut ginger.
Is Ginger Water Useful For Detox?
Many people attribute detoxifying properties to ginger water. Some use plain ginger water, while others add lemon to it. In any case, there is only anecdotal evidence to support this claim. However, many people continue to swear of its efficacy.
Is Ginger Powder The Same As Ginger?
Though they have the same origins and similar composition, ginger and ginger powder are different products. Ginger powder is made by drying and grinding ginger. This gives it a stronger peppery flavor and slightly changes the taste profile. If you intend to use ginger powder, use only a little bit so as to balance the peppery flavor.
Finalizing Your Options On What To Use For Ginger
When looking for the best ginger substitute, consider how well it matches the original flavor. You might have to give up some of the authenticity in flavor, but plenty of substitutes can save the day. Galangal and ginseng are good options, but you can also use commonly available spices like cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, and more.