Ground ginger is a versatile and popular spice used in many cuisines around the world. It adds a warm, slightly spicy and aromatic flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. However, you may sometimes find yourself out of ground ginger when a recipe calls for it. Thankfully, there are a few suitable substitutions available using whole ginger, grated ginger, and other spices.
What is Ground Ginger?
Ground ginger is simply ginger root that has been dried and finely ground into a powder. The ground ginger powder has a warm, spicy and slightly sweet flavor. It also contains the compound gingerol which gives ginger its unique zing. Ground ginger works well to add flavor and a subtle heat to dishes without being overpowering.
Compared to fresh ginger, ground ginger has a more concentrated, intense and hotter flavor due to being dried and ground. The drying process also removes the gingery sharpness that fresh ginger has. Ground ginger is commonly used in baking, curry powder blends, marinades, stir fries, stews and many other savory and sweet recipes.
If you don’t have ground ginger, you can use fresh ginger root as a substitute in most recipes. The flavor will be slightly different with the spiciness being more muted. To use fresh ginger, peel the tan skin off with a spoon or vegetable peeler. Then, grate, mince or dice the ginger depending on how fine you need it.
As a general rule of thumb, use about a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger for every 1 teaspoon of ground ginger called for. So for instance, if a recipe requires 1 tablespoon of ground ginger, substitute in about a 3-inch piece of fresh ginger. The grated, minced or chopped ginger can then be added to the dish.
Whole ginger is ideal for recipes where you want the milder flavor and crunch of fresh ginger rather than the intense spiciness of ground ginger. Think stir fries, soups, marinades, etc. Adjust the amount to taste if you want more or less ginger flavor.
Ginger powder is another suitable substitute for ground ginger. It is made from ginger root that has been dried and very finely pulverized into a powder. Ginger powder has a concentrated, spicy ginger flavor similar to ground ginger.
Replace ground ginger with an equal amount of ginger powder in recipes. So for 1 teaspoon ground ginger, use 1 teaspoon ginger powder. The flavor and heat level should be very similar using finely ground ginger powder. Ginger powder can be found in the spice aisle at well-stocked grocery stores or ordered online.
Dried ginger is ginger that has been sliced and dried but not finely ground. The dried slices maintain more of the fibrous texture and shape of the root. In terms of taste, dried ginger has a sweetness similar to fresh ginger but with more concentrated spice notes.
To substitute, replace 1 teaspoon ground ginger with 1 tablespoon chopped dried ginger pieces. Let the dried ginger simmer in soups, stews, curries and sauces to rehydrate and infuse the dish with flavor. Dried ginger works especially well in braises and slow cooked recipes.
Allspice is made from the dried berries of the Pimenta dioica tree. It earned its name because its flavor resembles a combination of spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and of course, ginger. Using ground allspice is a quick substitute if you don’t have ginger powder on hand.
Replace ground ginger with an equal amount of ground allspice. Keep in mind allspice has a more complex flavor with hints of other spices so it won’t taste exactly the same. But it can still add a nice warmth and subtle sweetness similar to ginger. A 1:1 ratio is a good starting point when substituting.
Ground cinnamon is another option for ginger powder in a pinch. It has a sweet and slightly spicy flavor that makes it a reasonable stand-in. Cinnamon won’t provide the true gingery notes but can replicate some of the warmth.
When using cinnamon in place of ginger, start with about 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon for every 1 teaspoon ground ginger. You may need to adjust the ratio depending on the dish and your taste preferences. Cinnamon works for baked goods, sautés, curries and stews needing a touch of spice.
Cardamom is an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a tropical plant. Often used in Indian cooking, it has a complex flavor with hints of lemon, mint and smoke. The sweet yet spicy tones of cardamom nicely mimic elements of ginger.
For substituting, use a 3:4 ratio or 3/4 teaspoon cardamom for every 1 teaspoon ginger powder. As with the other spice swaps, you may need to tweak the amount depending on how much gingery spice you want. Ground cardamom best substitutes for ginger in curries, cookies, bread and chai tea.
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice commonly used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. It has an earthy, bitter and slightly ginger-like flavor. Turmeric won’t perfectly replicate the taste of ginger powder but can provide subtle gingery undertones.
When using turmeric in place of ginger, substitute 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon turmeric for every 1 teaspoon ground ginger powder. The flavor won’t be exactly the same but turmeric can add warmth and a touch of bitterness similar to ginger. Turmeric works well in curry powders, stir fries, and stews as a ginger stand-in.
Galangal is a root spice from the same family as ginger. It has a sharp, piney and gingery flavor. Dried galangal root powder makes for a great ginger substitute when you want that authentic ginger heat.
Replace ground ginger with an equal amount of galangal powder for a very close match. Use a 1:1 ratio to start then taste and adjust as needed. The flavors are noticeably comparable though galangal is a bit woodier and more pungent. Galangal powder can be hard to find but is easily ordered online.
Ginger salt is a seasoning blend made by mixing ground ginger with salt, usually in a 1:1 ratio. The salt balances and enhances the ginger’s flavor. Ginger salt can be used to mimic the taste of ground ginger alone.
When substituting for ground ginger, use the same amount of ginger salt. So for 1 teaspoon ground ginger, replace with 1 teaspoon ginger salt. The salt may alter the flavor slightly but overall it makes a quick and handy stand-in. Ginger salt is great for sprinkling on meat, fish and veggies.
Pickled ginger, often served with sushi, is fresh ginger that has been julienned and pickled in a sweet vinegar brine. It has a pungent, sweet-sour flavor. In a pinch, it can add a tangy ginger punch.
Use about 1 tablespoon drained pickled ginger for every 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Make sure to drain off the excess liquid before using. The vinegary brine can overpower a dish. Pickled ginger is best in dressings, marinades, stir fries and anywhere you want a gingery accent.
Crystallized or candied ginger is fresh ginger that has been cooked in sugar syrup and coated with sugar. It has a sweet, spicy and chewy texture. The sugary coating balances the pungent ginger flavor.
When substituting crystallized for ground ginger, use approximately 2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger for every 1 teaspoon ground ginger powder. The sweetness factor makes it suitable for baked goods, cookies, fruit desserts and anywhere you want ginger’s spice coupled with sweetness.
Mango powder, also called amchoor, is made from dried unripe green mangoes ground into a powder. It has a sour, fruity taste that mimics some of the sharpness of fresh ginger. Mango powder is popular in Indian cuisine.
You can substitute about 3/4 teaspoon mango powder for every 1 teaspoon ground ginger. It won’t replicate the gingery heat but can provide a tartness and subtle fruity flavor. Mango powder works well in chutneys, curries, yogurt marinades, dressings and sprinkled on fruit.
Lemon zest is the outermost yellow peel of lemons. It packs a strong lemon and citrus flavor that has hints of ginger’s sharpness. Use grated or finely minced lemon zest as a ginger stand-in.
Start by substituting about 1 teaspoon lemon zest for 1 teaspoon ground ginger. You may need more or less depending on how strong the lemon flavor is. Lemon zest pairs nicely with ginger in marinades, stir fries, curries and other savory dishes.
Fresh horseradish is a root vegetable with a pungent, spicy flavor. It provides a similar heat and zing to ginger powder. Use freshly grated horseradish for the best flavor and punch.
When substituting for ground ginger, start with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated horseradish for 1 teaspoon ginger. Horseradish has a very strong flavor so a little goes a long way. It works in savory dishes like sauces, dressings, marinades and Bloody Mary cocktails.
Wasabi powder is made from ground wasabi root, also known as Japanese horseradish. It has a very sharp, spicy flavor that mimics the heat of ginger to some degree. Mix wasabi powder with water to form a paste.
Use approximately 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder paste for 1 teaspoon ground ginger. Wasabi is much more pungent than ginger so use sparingly. It’s great for giving a gingery kick to Asian marinades, stir fries, dressings and dipping sauces.
Mustard powder is made from ground mustard seeds which have a sharp, spicy flavor. The powder adds a ginger-like heat and pungency to recipes.
When substituting for ground ginger, use about 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon mustard powder for each 1 teaspoon of ginger powder. Start with less, as mustard powder is very potent. It works well in curry powder blends, marinades, salad dressings, soups and stews.
Freshly ground black pepper has a spicy heat that makes it a quick stand-in for ginger powder. It won’t have the true ginger flavor but can provide a similar punch of spice.
Use about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper for every 1 teaspoon ginger powder. Add to taste and adjust as needed. Pepper goes well anywhere you want a touch of heat like curries, stir fries, rubs, dressings and more.
Choosing a Substitute
When choosing a ginger powder substitute, consider the flavor profile you want and how the ground ginger is being used in the recipe. Here are some guidelines:
- For true ginger flavor – Use fresh grated ginger, ginger paste, ginger powder, galangal or dried ginger.
- For sweet recipes – Crystallized ginger, ground cinnamon or allspice work well.
- For heat and spice – Opt for horseradish, wasabi, black pepper or mustard powder.
- For marinades and stir fries – Lemon zest, mango powder, turmeric or cardamom.
- For baking – Cinnamon, allspice, ginger powder, crystallized ginger are good options.
Start by substituting a smaller amount of the ground ginger replacement at first. Taste and adjust the quantities as needed. Keep in mind that the flavor won’t be identical to true ginger powder in most cases.
Ground Ginger Substitute Ratio Examples
Here is a quick reference table for some easy ground ginger substitute ratio examples:
|1 teaspoon||Fresh grated ginger||1-inch piece|
|1 teaspoon||Dried ginger||1 tablespoon chopped|
|1 teaspoon||Ginger powder||1 teaspoon|
|1 teaspoon||Ground allspice||1 teaspoon|
|1 teaspoon||Ground cinnamon||1/2 teaspoon|
Storage Tips for Ground Ginger
To maintain freshness and flavor, store ground ginger properly. Here are some tips:
- Keep ground ginger in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Exposure to light, air and warmth will cause it to lose potency faster.
- Store for up to 6 months for best flavor. Write the purchase or open date on the container.
- Refrigerate for longer shelf life, up to 1 year. Keep in an airtight container.
- Smell and taste ground ginger before using. Discard if it smells musty or tastes flat.
- Buy ginger powder in small quantities to use within a shorter timeframe.
- Grind or buy whole ginger powder as needed for the freshest flavor.
Quick Serving Ideas for Ground Ginger
Here are some easy ways to use up ground ginger and enjoy its flavor:
- Stir fries – Add a pinch of ginger powder to Asian-style veggie or meat stir fries.
- Dressings and marinades – Whisk ground ginger into oil and vinegar dressing or marinades.
- Smoothies – Add a dash of ginger powder to fruit or green smoothies.
- Soup – Stir in ginger powder to vegetable, chicken or beef soups.
- Baked goods – Add to cookie, cake, muffin and bread recipes.
- Spice rubs – Include ground ginger in homemade BBQ or steak rub recipes.
- Tea – Mix ground ginger into chai tea or ginger lemon tea.
- Roasted veggies – Toss carrots, sweet potatoes, etc with olive oil and ginger powder.
Ground ginger is an indispensable spice for adding warm flavor and zing to both sweet and savory recipes. With a versatile array of ground ginger substitutes available, from fresh ginger to spices like cinnamon and turmeric, you can mimic the flavor when you’ve run out of ginger powder. Just keep in mind that the taste won’t be exactly the same as true ginger. Experiment with the substitution ratios to get the right intensity of flavor for the dish you’re preparing. With a little creativity, you can still add a mild to spicy ginger essence to recipes without ground ginger powder on hand.