There are dozens of reasons to incorporate more fresh ginger into your diet. It builds immunity, can treat nausea and tastes pretty damn delicious to boot. So, you were going to whip up some baked sesame-ginger salmon for dinner—only to find the nub in the back of your fridge has gone bad. Need a substitute for ginger? While there’s no spot-on replacement for the fresh root, here are nine that can work in a pinch.
OK, so you may not have fresh ginger to grate, but could its powdered cousin be hiding somewhere in your pantry? Ground ginger is less complex and spicy than fresh, but it’s the closest you can get in a bind. Just be careful about how much you use—ground ginger has a more concentrated flavor. Substitute ⅛ to ½ teaspoon ground ginger for every tablespoon of fresh ginger called for in your recipe.
Also called crystallized ginger, you’ll likely find this alternative nestled in with the dried fruit at your supermarket. It’s made by cooking ginger root in sugar water and rolling it in sugar, making it a lot sweeter than its raw predecessor. That means you’ll need a lot of it to pack the same punch as ground or fresh ginger in a recipe—but if that’s all you have, work with what you’ve got. Especially if you’re baking. Replace every teaspoon of ground ginger with a ½ cup of minced candied ginger. Substitute every tablespoon of fresh ginger with 3 tablespoons minced candied ginger.
Allspice, Cinnamon or Nutmeg
This is an ideal switch for recipes that call for ground ginger, but it can help if you’re all out of fresh ginger too. Allspice is a popular dry spice replacement, thanks to its mildly sweet-and-spicy flavor. If you’re all out of allspice too, use cinnamon, nutmeg or even ground cloves instead. If you only have cinnamon sticks, a two-inch stick is about equivalent to ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Swap in a ¼ teaspoon allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg for every tablespoon of fresh ginger. Substitute for ground ginger in equal parts.
Don’t sweat it if you’ve never heard of it. This aromatic swap is made of the lace-like coating found on nutmeg seeds, so its flavor is warm, spicy, peppery and sweet. It’s ideal for desserts that call for ground ginger, but if your recipe calls for fresh, use ¼ teaspoon of mace for every tablespoon of fresh ginger. Substitute for ground ginger in equal parts.
Turmeric or Cardamom
Ginger root is closely related to these two wonder spices. Turmeric leans earthy and bitter instead of sharp and spicy, while cardamom is nutty, herbaceous and citrusy. So, they aren’t identical substitutes, but they’ll give your dinner a certain je ne sais quoi that’ll be lacking if you omit ginger altogether. If you go with turmeric, remember that its vibrant yellow color might not suit the recipe you’re making, so take appearance into account before you swap. Substitute turmeric powder or ground cardamom for ground ginger in equal parts.
It may be harder to find, but galangal a pretty uncanny replacement for fresh ginger. It’s a root commonly found in Southeast Asian cuisines that some describe as a cross between ginger and turmeric flavor-wise. Your best bet is finding it at an Asian grocery store or online. Ginger is more pungent, so you can use a bit more galangal when substituting (for instance, if the recipe calls for 1 tablespoon ginger, substitute 1 to 1¼ tablespoon galangal). Substitute grated or minced galangal for fresh ginger in equal parts and adjust to taste if you want it stronger. Do the same when substituting galangal powder for ground ginger.
When You Restock, Here’s How to Store Ginger to Make it Last
First and foremost, let’s make sure you’re buying the best piece of ginger root possible at the grocery store. Always choose pieces that are firm and smooth; they shouldn’t be soft or wrinkly. Once you bring the ginger home, store the whole root in a resealable plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. Push out all the air when you seal it and it’ll keep for about one month.
If you’ve already cut the ginger, pat it dry with a paper towel before storing the same way. Cut ginger will spoil faster than whole, so be sure to use it in a timely fashion. Frozen whole ginger root will keep indefinitely, on the other hand. Just pop it in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container and store. Don’t bother thawing it when you need to use some—frozen ginger is a breeze to grate.
Oh, and for the record, you never have to peel it.