Published July 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
When it comes to garlic powder, which brand comes out on top?
Garlic powder is handy when mixing spice rubs, letting you add subtle garlic flavor with no distinguishable garlic texture. Made from dehydrated, ground garlic cloves, it’s easy to keep on hand as a pantry staple. We tried five brands of garlic powder; four from the supermarket and one purchased online from a reputable spice vendor, sampling them in garlic croutons and garlic bread.
All of the ingredients were the same: simply “garlic” (the organic label read “organic garlic.”) In appearance, they differed in color and grain size, from pale beige to brownish straw, and from fine powder to distinct sandy granules.
With prices ranging from $0.67 to $3.11 per ounce, we thought surely our tasters would detect a difference. To our surprise, tasters found all but one of the garlic powders acceptable—although, truth be told, they weren’t crazy about any of them. Though all had perceptible garlic flavor they were also very mild and often tasted dusty or stale. They simply lacked the character and bite of fresh garlic. In the few applications where you don’t want the moisture of fresh garlic or where the garlic could easily burn (like on a hot grill) we found that just about any garlic powder will do, especially when mixed with other spices in a rub. While we don’t recommend using garlic powder in applications where garlic is the dominant flavor, in croutons and garlic bread, our winning brand barely edged out the competition, though the runner-up is nearly as good.