The 12 best asafetida substitutes out there

asafetida substitute
Cooked asafetida (or asafoetida) has the same sulfurous onion flavor as onions and garlic. This spice is usually used in Iranian, Afghan, Italian, Mexican, and Indian cooking to add onion flavor to raw and cooked dishes. The best substitutes for asafetida are garlic powder and onion powder.

What is the flavor of asafetida?

Raw and pure asafetida has a dislikable pungent smell similar to the sulfurous smell of rotting onions or eggs. It is made from the dried sap or gum resin of certain species of ferula plants.

However, the pungency of the spice shouldn’t discourage you from using it. Cooked asafetida has a pleasing aroma and flavor similar to onions and garlic. 

Processed asafetida is milder in flavor. The dried resin is mixed with rice flour and gum Arabic to make a paste that is then sun-dried and ground into asafetida powder.

What is asafetida powder used for?

Asafetida powder
Asafetida powder

Asafetida is a common spice in Indian cuisine, also called hing. It also features heavily Mexican and Italian cuisines.

Also called devil’s dung or “stinking gum,” asafetida is a significant spice in Iran and Afghanistan, where the plants are native.

You can use asafetida to add garlicky and oniony flavors to casseroles, stir-fries, meatballs, vegetables, stews, and curries.

12 best alternatives to use if you don’t have asafetida at home

Asafetida is a rare, expensive spice. When you don’t have any in your pantry, try the following substitutes:

  1. Garlic powder
  2. Onion powder
  3. Onion paste
  4. Celery seeds
  5. Chives
  6. Leeks
  7. Scallions
  8. Shallots
  9. Wild ramps
  10. Garlic scapes
  11. Spring onions
  12. Fennel seeds
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Garlic powderUse garlic powder as a substitute alongside other spices in dishes that do not rely much on asafetida, it will not cause a massive change in flavor
Onion powderSlightly sweeter and may be too oniony, which may easily alter the final flavor of the dish, a great replacement in peri peri masala, soups, stews, and potato salads
Onion pasteOnion paste has the same sulfurous taste as onions and garlic, pairs well with gravy-based dishes like stews, mushroom curry
Celery seedsAromatic, warm spice with a slightly bitter flavor akin to the slight bitterness in asafetida, flavors salads, stews, soups, and dressings
ChivesHave the characteristic flavor of onions and garlic but are milder, works well with soups, seafood, chicken, vegetable dishes, and stir-fries
LeeksHave a pungent sulfurous flavor but are much milder, ideal substitute in cooked dishes such as lentil soups, stews, potato soups, and curries
ScallionsHave a similar oniony flavor but are milder than asafetida and onions, start with small amounts and keep adding to achieve the desired flavor level in sauces, salads, stews, stir-fries, and soups
ShallotsA type of onion used as a garnish or in salads to add sweetness and onion flavor to the dish, work well in soups, sauces, salads, casseroles, and vegetables
Wild rampsHave a strong onion flavor, used raw or cooked wild ramps to replace asafetida in potato dishes, pesto, sauces, salads, rice dishes, stews, and soups
Garlic scapesHave a similar oniony taste but are milder, pair great with sauteed vegetables, roasted meats, gluten-free garlic scape soups, and pesto
Spring onionsMore mature than scallions but have a milder flavor than fully mature onions, great for cooked dishes, including soups, stir-fries, and curries
Fennel seedsThey share a similar flavor profile, but fennel seeds are slightly sweeter and add strong licorice and anise seed flavors to pork dishes, seafood, stews, soups, and sauces

1. Garlic Powder

Garlic powder
Garlic powder

The pungent sulfurous flavor of asafetida is easy to replicate with garlic powder. The powder comes from minced garlic, garlic flakes, or dehydrated garlic cloves.

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Use garlic powder as a substitute alongside other spices in dishes that do not rely much on asafetida. The powder does not cause a massive change in flavor.

To substitute asafetida with garlic powder, use 1 teaspoon for every 1/4 teaspoon of asafetida powder.

Add garlic powder to cooked dishes such as sauces, pesto, curries, and stews. Raw dishes like salads and chutneys require garlic powder in smaller amounts.

2. Onion Powder

Onion powder
Onion powder

Onion powder from dried or minced onions is ideal for replacing asafetida in dishes where asafetida isn’t the main focus.

When using onion powder as a substitute, remember it is slightly sweeter and may be too oniony, which may easily alter the final flavor of your dish.

Replace asafetida with onion powder in a 1:1 ratio in peri peri masala, soups, stews, and potato salads.

3. Onion Paste

Onion paste
Onion paste

Onion paste has the same sulfurous taste as onions and garlic. It alters the texture of a dish because of its thickness. Use the paste in a 1:1 substitution ratio in gravy-based dishes like stews, mushroom curry, and Indian tadka.

4. Celery Seeds

Celery seeds
Celery seeds

Celery seeds are an aromatic, warm spice with a slightly bitter flavor akin to the slight bitterness in asafetida. They add a nutty flavor to salads, stews, soups, and dressings.

Use a 1:1 replacement ratio to substitute asafetida with celery seeds.

5. Chives

Chives
Chives

Chives belong to the Allium family and have the characteristic flavor of onions and garlic but are milder. You’ll want to use them to replace asafetida if you are intolerant to garlic or onions.

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You can use fresh, frozen, chopped, or whole chives in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Italian dishes in 2:1 chives to the asafetida substitution ratio. Add chives in the last cooking stages of soups, seafood, chicken, vegetable dishes, and stir-fries.

6. Leeks

Leeks
Leeks

Leeks have a pungent sulfurous flavor but are much milder. Use a 3:1 replacement ratio of leeks to asafetida in cooked dishes such as lentil soups, stews, potato soups, and curries.

One thing to watch out for when using leeks is adding too much bulkiness to your dish since they are fibrous or stringy.

7. Scallions

Scallions
Scallions

Scallions or green onions are young stems and leaves harvested from ordinary bulbous onions or varieties that don’t have bulbs. They have a similar oniony flavor but are milder than asafetida and onions.

To replace asafetida with scallions in cooked dishes, start with small amounts and keep adding to achieve the desired flavor level. Use scallions in sauces, salads, stews, stir-fries, and soups.

8. Shallots

Shallots
Shallots

Shallots are a type of onion used as a garnish or in salads to add sweetness and onion flavor to the dish. Though milder than onions, use shallots sparingly as an asafetida substitute to avoid negating the bitterness of asafetida.

Shallots work well in soups, sauces, salads, casseroles, and vegetables.

9. Wild Ramps

Wild ramps
Wild ramps

Also called wild onions, wild ramps are a type of wild onion similar to spring onions but have larger leaves. They have a strong onion flavor.

Use raw or cooked wild ramps to replace asafetida in potato dishes, pesto, sauces, salads, rice dishes, stews, and soups. One ramp is enough to substitute 1/4 teaspoon of the powdered form of asafetida.

10. Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes
Garlic scapes

Garlic scapes are the long, curly stems of hardneck garlic plants. They belong to the Allium family and have a similar oniony taste but are milder.

Use half the amount of garlic scapes for the amount of asafetida the recipe specifies. Use them in sauteed vegetables, roasted meats, gluten-free garlic scape soups, and pesto.

11. Spring Onions

Spring onions
Spring onions

Unlike scallions, spring onions are harvested before bulbous onions develop their bulbs fully. They are more mature than scallions but have a milder flavor than fully mature onions.

Use a 1/3:1/2 ratio of spring onions to asafetida to avoid adding a strong flavor to your cooked dishes, including soups, stir-fries, and curries.

12. Fennel Seeds

Fennel seeds
Fennel seeds

Both fennel seeds and asafetida are from the Apiaceae family. They share a similar flavor profile, but fennel seeds are slightly sweeter and add strong licorice and anise seed flavors to pork dishes, seafood, stews, soups, and sauces.

Use half of the fennel seeds for the amount of asafetida the recipe requires.

Can I make asafetida at home?

Asafetida is a rare spice. It’s common in Iranian and Afghan cuisines but has found its way into Indian cooking as a substitute for garlic and onions in cultures that do not use these two spices.

In the US, you can buy asafetida online via Amazon or specialty stores if lucky. You can make your own generic version by combining onion powder, salt, and garlic powder.

Here’s how to make the powder:

  • Mix 1/2 cup of garlic powder with 1/2 cup of onion powder in a large bowl.
  • Add salt and mix the three ingredients thoroughly before storing the mixture for up to three months in airtight containers in a cool, dry, dark place.

Remember that your homemade asafetida should have as much garlic and onion flavor as possible. However, you may not have the dried gum resin from the asafetida plant or gum Arabic. You have to use garlic and onion powder to mimic the asafetida flavor.

Alex Maina

Since discovering how well spices transform a dish from bland to enjoyable in seconds, Alex became sold on using spices to better three of his major passions—gardening, cooking, and writing. When he is not tending to his spice crops, you'll find him trying a new recipe, writing for the Spice Gourmand, or serving a second helping of his spicy food!

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