Sometimes a recipe calls for chopped onions, and you’ve only got onion powder. Or maybe it calls for parsley flakes, but you only have fresh parsley. Most of the time it’s okay to substitute one for the other, but how do you know how much to use?
I put together some information for you. Save the guide below as an image on your phone (or computer desktop) for quick reference! It’s also available, at the end, as a PDF so you can download and print it out!
Chile and Pepper
Believe it or not, some babies like spicy foods! It’s all an experiment. I wouldn’t put a spicy dish in front of my baby, but you could offer something a little hotter than “bland” to see what sort of reaction you get. If baby doesn’t mind it, or goes for more, try something hotter in the future. (For the record, my baby has tried a few spicy things and totally freaked out. We’ll try again in the future, but for now, he does not like the heat!)
Of course, not all chiles (or peppers) are that spicy. In fact, your classic bell pepper (capsicum), after the seeds are removed, is not hot at all (as I’m sure you know!).
Not all chili powder is created equal. Some have more than just chiles, including added salt. Make sure to get the kind that says some sort of “chiles” as the only ingredient. Also, chile flakes (red pepper flakes) can be very hot, depending on the age of the chiles used. So if you sub fresh chiles with these flakes, be very cautious. Put a tiny amount at the beginning of cooking, taste throughout, and then modify as needed. Remember: YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD MORE LATER!
I couldn’t find specific information about ratios for fresh vs. dried chiles. Here’s more information about the different versions of chiles!
Sometimes swapping onion flakes or powder for fresh onion is your only option. (And if you don’t have any powder of flakes, then you’ve got to use fresh!) Of course, something that calls for fresh onion is usually best with fresh onion. But that doesn’t mean you’re totally out of luck.
The rule of thumb is this: 1 small onion = 1 tablespoon of onion flakes = 1.5 teaspoons of onion powder
If you’re anything like me, garlic or garlic powder is in almost all the savory dishes I make. Most of the time, I use a garlic press and mince a garlic clove or two as needed. But if I’m in a rush or just want a hint of flavor, I’ll sprinkle some of the garlic powder I have instead. You can also substitute garlic with chives or shallots or onions! It’s not quite the same flavor, of course, but if you’re in a pinch, you gotta do what you gotta do.
The rule of thumb is this: 1 clove = 1 teaspoon chopped garlic = 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder = 1/2 teaspoon garlic flakes = 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic = 1/2 teaspoon garlic juice (Source)
There are a ton of different herbs out there. Some can be substituted with their dried counterpart pretty easily, but others are tricky. Let your dried herbs soak in some water to rehydrate them before putting them into your dish. If you’re using fresh herbs, put them in just before you’re done cooking so that the flavor is stronger. If you’re using dried herbs, put them in at the beginning so the flavor has a chance to build.
Here is a great summary of different herbs and how they compare to their dried counterparts.
The rule of thumb is this: 1 tablespoon of dried herb = 1.5 tablespoons of fresh herb (and add more as needed since you can’t take it back once you’ve added it!)
One quick extra note about herbs: Check the expiration dates on your dried herbs! While they won’t go bad — as in, they won’t harm you — the flavor is worthless after a while. If the color has faded, the flavor probably has, too. Try crushing the dried stuff between your fingers to see if it still gives off an aroma. If it doesn’t, or if the aroma is faint, I would toss the container and get some more!
As I mentioned, here’s a quick chart for you that may be helpful in the future! I would just save the image on my phone!
(CLICK HERE to download a printable version.)
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