Ginger has been used across the globe for millennia as a natural and holistic health food. There are numerous historical references to using ginger plants and extracts to heal a variety of ailments including nausea, bloating, and inflammation.
Ginger is also a very distinct flavoring used in a wide variety of dishes and cuisines. It can be hard to replicate, but we are here to give you some ideas for the best ginger substitutes. You may be surprised by just how well some of them can work.
Other Forms of Ginger
There are a number of different ginger products available, such as fresh, powdered, candied (or crystallized), minced, and pickled. In a pinch, any of these can be substituted for one another.
It is important to bear in mind that these different forms will need to be used in differing quantities and may well alter the flavor of your finished dish. Minced ginger and pickled ginger are typically a lot more vinegary in flavor.
Crystallized ginger has a crispy exterior coating of sugar and is much sweeter than fresh ginger root. Powdered ginger will have the most similar flavor profile but the taste is much more mild and you will need to use more to achieve the same result.
To substitute ground ginger for fresh ginger, use 1 teaspoon for every tablespoon or inch of grated fresh ginger the recipe calls for.
Allspice is also sometimes referred to as Jamaican pepper. It is a ground spice with a mildly spicy and sweet taste. It has a similar color to ground ginger and the flavor profile is relatively similar.
When substituting allspice for ground ginger you should use equal quantities. If you are substituting allspice for fresh ginger, you should use about ¼ teaspoon to replace each tablespoon of fresh ginger the recipe calls for.
Cinnamon is a popular spice and makes a good go-to replacement for ginger in a pinch. The sweetness of the spice combined with the slight heat make it an ideal substitute for ginger in most recipes.
You may think of cinnamon as just for use in desserts, but it is actually used in savoury dishes far more commonly than you may assume. It is a key ingredient in a number of Indian dishes to lend a depth of flavor.
When using ground cinnamon as a replacement for ginger we advise using ¼ teaspoon for each tablespoon of grated fresh ginger the recipe calls for.
This is a Southeast Asian plant, the root of which is commonly used in various traditional dishes. The flavor is reminiscent of a combination of turmeric and ginger, and the plant is actually from the same family as the ginger plant.
This makes it a very good substitute for fresh ginger. The only downside is that galangal is often much harder to source than ginger root, making it not the most practical substitute.
If you do manage to locate galangal, be aware that the flavor is more potent than that of ginger. Use a slightly smaller amount of galangal, to begin with, working up to an equal quantity to taste.
This is another commonly-used root in Asian cuisine. It is visually similar to ginger and is said to have a comparable flavor profile too. Ginseng tastes slightly sweet with a hint of bitterness.
Ginseng makes a perfect substitute for fresh ginger root where you do not want to alter the textural component of your dish too much. Ginseng also has a number of health benefits such as energy boosts which can add an extra kick to whatever dish you are making.
Generally speaking, you should use equal quantities of ginseng to whatever the recipe calls for of fresh ginger. The flavor is slightly more mild, so you may find that you need to add some extra to taste.
This is an incredibly common ingredient in Southeast Asian cuisine and is relatively easy to find in most grocery stores. It is unlikely that you will not have ginger but will have lemongrass on hand, however if this is the case the latter will serve as a good substitute.
Lemongrass has a level of tanginess from the citrusy notes and will serve well to replicate the effects of ginger in most dishes. It is important to gently bash the lemongrass stems to bruise them before use. This helps the fibrous plant to release some of its oils, unlocking more of the flavors and aromas to benefit your dish.
Lemon Juice and Garlic
This is a really good substitute for fresh ginger if you don’t happen to have any on hand, or if someone you are cooking for is allergic to ginger. It creates the similar sharpness and bite that you would expect from incorporating ginger into your dish.
The acidity of the lemon juice will mellow the bite of the garlic slightly, and you will end up with a similar flavor profile to ginger. A similar result can also be achieved by incorporating a little freshly ground black pepper too.
Mace comes from the protective coating of the nutmeg seeds, known as airls. The flavor is warmer and more aromatic, with hints of sweetness. It is similar in taste to nutmeg, but with more notes of black pepper, cilantro-like citrus, and pine.
To replace ground ginger with mace, you can use a direct substitution.
Nutmeg is a large seed from the nutmeg tree. They can be purchased as the whole seeds to grate freshly into each recipe, or as a powder. Nutmeg has a slightly spicy and sweet flavor. It is commonly used in Christmas dishes.
If you are replacing fresh ginger in your recipe with nutmeg, you should use ¼ teaspoon for each tablespoon of ginger stated in the recipe.
Nuts, Lemon Juice, and Sugar
This may seem like an odd suggestion, but if you are looking for a replacement for candied or crystallized ginger it works perfectly. We recommend using pecans or walnuts for this, as they contain a lot of natural sweetness that works brilliantly for this purpose.
We suggest crushing or grinding the nuts down until they are a coarse powder and then combining them with some granulated sugar and some lemon juice. Play around with the quantities until you find something that works for you. You will be shocked at how effective this substitute is.
Turmeric is a spice that is very commonly used within Asian cuisine. It gives a warm flavor with notes of bitterness, and will give whatever you are making that classic yellow hue. Turmeric again is from the same family as ginger, meaning that it will have a similar impact upon your dish.
If you are substituting ground turmeric for ground ginger, you can use it in the same quantities as the recipe calls for ginger. You may find that you need to include up to double the quantity of turmeric as the flavor is more mild. Taste as you go along, and adjust as necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use ginger powder instead of fresh ginger in tea?
Yes, you can. You will not get quite the same effect and your drink may be slightly grainy or may not combine well. This is because the ginger powder will not dissolve into your water. For each cup of ginger tea you wish to produce, use ¼ to ½ teaspoons of ginger powder.
Is ginger healthy for you?
Yes, ginger is very healthy for you. There are a large number of proven health benefits and ginger has been a staple natural healer for centuries. Gingerol is the main active component and is responsible for the majority of the health benefits. As well as what we have already mentioned, ginger can also be used to fight the common cold and the flu.
Ginger is also believed to protect your body’s cells against damage by harmful free radicals. This is because ginger contains a number of antioxidants that are used to reduce oxidative stress in the body.
New research shows that ginger has great potential as an anti-diabetic treatment. Studies gave participants with type 2 diabetes 2 grams of ginger daily. The results showed that the fasting blood sugar levels in the group collectively dropped by 12% and improved hemoglobin A1c levels.
Is powdered ginger as good as fresh ginger?
This depends upon what criteria you are judging by. Powdered ginger has a much longer shelf life than fresh ginger, making it a more convenient store cupboard staple. The manufacturing process that the ground ginger must undergo greatly reduces the concentration of gingerol found within the final product.
Gingerol is the active component found within ginger and is responsible for the majority of the health benefits ginger offers. There is another component in the plant known as shogaols. As the gingerol levels decrease, the manufacturing process increases the shogaol levels. These are believed to enhance cognitive abilities, memory, and generally increase positive health.