Onion powder is made of dried, ground onions (Allium cepa L.). Onions release their water content but not their flavor, which is preserved as much as possible during the dehydration process (such as superheat steam drying or freeze-drying). Onion powder is simply ground finer than granulated onion. The two can almost always be used the same way.
Culinary uses — onion powder:
With a only few exceptions (stuffed onions, for example), the way you use granulated onion and onion powder is comparable to the way you use raw onions. Both are suitable for adding flavor to soups, sauces, dips, marinades, chutneys, dressings, salads, and vegetable dishes. You can cook any dish with onion powder instead of raw onions, and you can simply add it to cold dishes.
If you want to add onion powder to prepared dishes, we recommend mixing it with a little water to ensure that it is distributed evenly throughout the dish. This process is even more important with onion powder than granulated onion.
Using onion powder usually means you can avoid the “tears” associated with chopping raw onions, and it is also a way of making a dish with an onion flavor palatable to toddlers, since they cannot see the onions.
Granulated onion and onion powder have a more intense flavor than raw onions because they are concentrated. How much onion powder is equivalent to one onion? There isn’t necessarily an easy answer to this question since raw onions also vary in terms of their flavor and intensity. One teaspoon of onion powder corresponds to roughly 1½ tablespoons of chopped raw onions. In other words: 1 tablespoon of onion powder is comparable to a medium-size onion.
Use onion powder sparingly, and taste your dish carefully as you add it. Whenever possible, we recommend using natural ingredients, such as raw onions, because they are healthier. But granulated onion and onion powder, much like granulated garlic or garlic powder, are real time-savers and much easier to store.
Vegan recipe for Zucchini Potato Rösti (fritters):
Preparation: Coarsely grate the raw zucchini and boiled potatoes and mix with the spices. Pour the entire mixture into a well-oiled pan, press down, and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat. To turn: invert the half-fried fritter onto a lid and slide it back into the pan. Finish frying the second side.
You can find vegan recipes with onion powder at the bottom of the text or in the side bar: “Recipes that contain the largest amounts of this ingredient.”
|Not only vegans and vegetarians should read this: |
A Vegan Diet Can Be Unhealthy. Nutrition Mistakes.
Purchasing — where to buy onion powder?
Onion powder from conventionally grown onions and conventional processing can be found at all major distributors such as Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Holland & Barret (Great Britain); Metro, Extra Foods, and Goodness Me (Canada); and Coles, Woolworths, and Harris Farm (Australia). Organic onions contain more minerals and trace elements,9 so we recommend that you also buy onion powder that is labeled organic. You can find organic onion powder at health food stores, organic supermarkets (such as Whole Foods Markets), and some specialty stores.
Onion powder is simply a more finely ground variant of granulated onion. Look for products that do not contain any additives such as salt, spices, or flavor enhancers.
Making homemade onion powder:
If you rarely use onions or garlic or use them only in small quantities, it can be worthwhile to make granulated onion or onion powder. You can also store leftover onions much longer this way.
Using your oven to make onion powder (instead of a food dehydrator) is very simple:
Peel the onions and slice very thinly. Slicing onions is easier and faster with a mandoline. Spread the onion slices on parchment paper, making sure they are not resting on top of each other. The slices should not be thicker than 1 to 2 mm. An average baking sheet can hold about 4 onions worth of slices.
If your oven doesn’t have a vent, prop the door open a little with a piece of metal or wood. You can also dehydrate the onion slices more gently in a dehydrator set to 40–42 °C for about 6 hours. The thinner the slices, the faster they will dry. Dehydrating your onions means that you don’t lose much in the way of vitamins, so the onions can still be considered raw in terms of quality. The onions will also retain their color, or it will change very slightly to a light beige.
It is important that the moisture can escape so that the onion slices are dry inside as well as on their surface. The (thickest) slices should break instead of bending when they are dry enough. When the onion slices are dry and cool, use a blender, food processor, or mortar and pestle to grind them as finely or as coarsely as you like. You can also use a spice grinder or an electric coffee grinder to pulverize your onions.
Theoretically, onions can also be dried in warm air, such as on a radiator. Even dry enough air in a room can dry out onions in 3 to 4 days. With this method, more nutrients, such as vitamins, will oxidize as a result of prolonged contact with air.
If you cannot set your oven to 40 or 42 °C because its lowest temperature setting is 50 °C, you can simply preheat the oven to 50 °C and dry the onion slices with the convection fan on. This process should take about two hours. You can adjust the heat and drying time as needed. To brown the onions, set the oven to 140 °C for the first 30 minutes, and then reduce it to 100 °C and continue baking for another hour or so.
However, we advise against using this much heat, because the heat causes a Maillard reaction, which produces unhealthy compounds. A Maillard reaction is a form of nonenzymatic browning that produces a chemical reaction with a pleasant taste that people tend to like. According to Wikipedia, Maillard reactions break down nucleophilic amine compounds (such as those in amino acids, peptides, and proteins) by reducing sugars in the presence of heat and causing them to form new bonds. This reaction should not be confused with caramelization, but both reactions can occur together. Unwanted Maillard reactions can lead to numerous other potentially mutagenic and/or carcinogenic compounds. Some of the connections between the reactions and the chemical compounds are still unclear.
Maillard reactions are what produce the brown color and flavor in bread crust, fried foods, and roasted foods, and the reactions result in brown melanoidins or in acrylamide. These compounds begin to form at temperatures of 170–190 °C, but they can also form (much more slowly) at lower temperatures.
Onion powder should last for a year when stored in a dry place away from direct light in an airtight container. It can even last several years in optimally dry conditions. If your onion powder begins to take on a darker color, this is a sign that it is starting to deteriorate. This can happen for example when you leave the container open for too long, especially if the air is humid.
Nutrients — nutritional information — calories:
Raw onions (Allium cepa L.) contain no starch, but mainly fructans to store carbohydrates. The human digestive system cannot break down these polymers enzymatically and reabsorb them in the small intestine. Bacteria metabolize the undigested fructans in the large intestine, and this produces gas. The by-products from breaking down fructans in the large intestine together with onions’ sulfurous compounds are responsible for the smell of flatulence (and of bloating).
The sulfur-containing amino acid isoalliin contained in the cytoplasm of onion cells is initially converted to 1-propenesulfenic acid after the cell structure has been damaged by the alliinase enzyme present in the onion’s cell vacuoles. This chemical reaction is followed by further reactions, which lead to the formation of several other compounds. Among these compounds is syn-propanthial-S-oxide, which irritates our mucous membranes and causes people to “cry” when it comes into contact with our eyes either as a gas or as a liquid. You can reduce the effects of syn-propanthial-S-oxide by using a sharp knife. The same compounds can lead to pink discoloration when cutting onions, and greenish discoloration when cutting garlic. Both are normal and harmless.
Raw onions contain small amounts of almost all vitamins (except for vitamin B12; and only trace amounts of vitamins A, E, and D) as well as minerals — especially potassium (146 to 157 mg/100 g). Potassium is important for cell membranes and cellular growing processes. There is a lot of potassium in dried herbs (dried parsley, 2680 mg/100 g) and legumes (white beans, 1795 mg). Onion powder also contains a lot of potassium (985 mg/100 g), but you usually only eat a little of it.1
There is also manganese in onion powder (1.3 mg/100 g). This trace element helps build cartilage and connective tissue. The part of grains called the germ (such as wheat germ, 13 mg/100 g) and nuts (hazelnuts, 6 mg/100 g) contain larger amounts of manganese.1
You can also get calcium from onion powder (384 mg/100 g). This mineral is important for the stability of bones and teeth. Fresh herbs and green vegetables such as fresh basil (177 mg) or arugula (160 mg) are especially high in calcium.1
Onion powder contains noteworthy quantities of phosphorus (322 mg/100 g). Phosphorus, just like calcium, is important for teeth, bones, and cell membranes. Chia seeds have very high phosphorous levels (860 mg/100 g), and rolled oats contain phosphorous in amounts similar to what you find in onion powder.1
Sulfur is a trace element that is an essential component in the typical smell of raw onions, but it is also an important element in the amino acid composition of onions. Raw onions have high levels of quercetin, a flavonoid known for its health effects.2 Commercially produced onion powder and granulated onion, however, contain little to no flavonoids according to one study that examined 16 products from the United States.3 Flavonoids are mainly found in onions’ skin.5
Onion powder and granulated onion are also much higher in carbohydrates than raw onions, since the dehydration process removes almost all of the water content. Dried onions also taste sweeter than raw ones. In powdered or granulated form, all vitamins and trace elements are increased per 100 g, but you only consume a very small amount of onion powder in comparison to raw onions.
Select CLICK FOR under the photo of the onion powderto see the nutrient tables. These tables provide complete nutritional information, the percentage of the recommended allowance, and comparison values with other ingredients.
Health aspects — benefits of onion powder:
The antioxidant sulfur compounds and other active ingredients in onions have antibacterial effects that can reduce blood pressure, blood lipids, and blood sugar slightly, which is why the NHV Theophrastus (a German organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the medical uses of plants) selected onions as their Medicinal Plant of the Year in 2015.
The flavonoids in onions can improve blood circulation and prevent blood clots and arteriosclerosis by blocking the oxidation of lipoproteins. Onions’ natural oils and flavonoids are said to have antibiotic, bronchial, antiasthmatic, cardiovascular, diuretic, and anticancer properties.2 When taken internally (raw, cooked, fried, or as a syrup), onions are effective against all kinds of respiratory diseases.2
A 2015 study examined the most popular health studies on onions and garlic and described the results of each study. Its conclusions on cancer prevention read as follows: Studies indicate possible anticancer mechanisms in various Allium plant extracts and preparations, and they underscore the effects of the Allium genus’ sulfur-containing compounds in particular. These sulfur compounds have effects at every stage of carcinogenesis and influence many physiological processes that modify cancer risk.6
More generally speaking, the study suggests that the following nutritional factors demonstrate an effect modification: total fat, selenium, methionine, and vitamin A. Other factors that may influence the role of alliums in cancer prevention are their interactions (and the interactions of the compounds they contain) with both our oral microbiome and our gut microbiota. In addition, the way alliums contribute to thiol signaling is an emerging area of research in redox biology that requires further investigation.6
One study shows that when the natural phenolic compounds in garlic remove free radicals, the body’s total phenol levels increase. This antioxidant effect can inhibit cancer cell proliferation and as such be decisive in preventing and treating cancer.7
Three heart disease studies: Clinical studies show that garlic from dietary sources and supplements can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Reducing these substances in your blood also reduces the risk of heart disease. There is a recent study on the connection between garlic powder and cardiovascular health from 2014.8
Traditional medicine — naturopathy:
Consuming an entire bulb of garlic every day is said to protect against infections and colds and to have antibiotic effects.9
Dangers — intolerances — side effects:
Although most bulbs are poisonous or indigestible for humans, their alimentary cousins (garlic and onions) can actually support good health. They can, however, be poisonous for other mammals (e.g., small mammals, dogs, cats, and horses). This is by extension also true for onion powder and granulated onion.
Onion powder can also lead to contact eczema among people who are allergic to onions; this is also the case for garlic and garlic powder. Low molecular weight sulfur compounds are considered allergens. Onions also contain other proteins that can trigger allergies. These include lipid transfer proteins (All c 3), profilin (All c 4, cross allergen with grass pollen), and alliin lyase (cross allergen with other types of leek).4
General information about onion powder:
Onions (Allium cepa) belong to the genus Allium, which includes onions, garlic, scallions, shallots, leeks, and chives. When you use the botanical term Allium cepa, you need to be clear whether you are referring to the whole plant or to its bulb, which acts as a kind of storage organ for the plant.
Onions, onion powder, and granulated onion are dangerous for cats or dogs because the sulfur compounds they contain can destroy the animals’ blood cells.
There are many different types of onions in all possible sizes and colors. Red onions (which are actually more purple in color), yellow onions (from beige to light brown), and white onions are the ones you hear about most often. According to pharmacist M. Pahlow, sweeter summer onion varieties come from western Asia, and the Romans brought them to Central Europe. However, onions are a more important vegetable in the Balkans and in Asia than in Western countries. Winter onions, which can overwinter in the ground, are said to come from southern Siberia. These varieties are not sensitive to frost and have a milder flavor.5 In his 526-page work, Pahlow writes the following about kitchen onions or common onions: There is no healthier seasoning (apart from garlic) than onions. Onions work well in any dish, regardless of whether they are raw, roasted, or sautéed, whether they are sliced or finely chopped, whether they are used in sauces, fried atop roasts, or in salad. They are not just good for seasoning, but also for cultivating a healthier life when they are used frequently in the kitchen.
Alternative names for onion powder:
Onions are also called garden onions, bulb onions, and common onions.
The English word onion comes to us via Anglo-French and directly from the Latin unionem (nominative unio), a colloquial rustic Roman word for a kind of onion.11
Literature — sources:
Many researchers do not believe that Wikipedia is an authoritative source. One reason for this is that the information about literature cited and authors is often missing or unreliable. Our pictograms for nutritional values provide also information on calories (kcal).
- USDA - United States Department of Agriculture.
- Roger P. Heilkräfte der Natur: Ein Praxishandbuch. Zürich: Advent Verlag. 2006. 142-146.
- Lee S, Lee J, Choi S et al. Flavonoid Content in Fresh, Home-Processed, and Light-Exposed Onoins and in Dehydrated Commercial Onion Products. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2008. 56(18).
- Enrique E, Malek T, Mateo J et al. Involvement of lipid transfer protein in onion allergy. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2007;98(2):202.
- Pahlow M. Das grosse Buch der Heilpflanzen. Nikol Verlag. 2013.
- Nicastro HL, Ross SA, Milner JA. Garlic and onions: Their cancer prevention properties. Cancer prevention research (Philadelphia, Pa). 2015;8(3).
- Jafari S, Saeidnia S, Abdollahi M. Role of natural phenolic compounds in cancer chemoprevention via regulation of the cell cycle. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2014;15(4).
- Kwak JS, et al. Garlic powder intake and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. Nutr Res Pract. 2014;8(6):644-54.
- Pini U. Das Bio-Food Handbuch. Ullmann: Hamburg, Potsdam. 2014.
- Jessen C. Die deutschen Volksnamen der Pflanzen. Verlag von Phiolipp Cohen: Hannover. 1882.
- Online Etymology Dictionary. Onion (n.).