Missing garlic and onion on the low FODMAP diet? Keep reading to learn about five low FODMAP garlic and onion substitutes that can help you add garlic and onion flavor without the FODMAPs.
This comprehensive guide to low FODMAP garlic and onion substitutes will cover the following topics. (Click a link to jump to that section.)
Garlic and Onion FODMAP FAQs
Why can’t I eat garlic and onion on the low FODMAP diet?
Garlic and onion are high in the FODMAP, fructan. Fructans are a type of oligosaccharide (i.e., the O in the FODMAP acronym). Like other FODMAPs, fructans are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly fermented by bacteria in the large intestine leading to symptoms in some people with IBS. During the low FODMAP diet, we temporarily reduce our intake of garlic, onion, and other high FODMAP foods until we can evaluate our tolerance.
I have IBS, do I need to avoid garlic and onion forever?
In short, no. We temporarily avoid garlic and onion during the low FODMAP diet because these foods are high in FODMAPs. In the reintroduction phase, we evaluate our tolerance to garlic, onion, and other high FODMAP foods. Once we have completed the reintroduction phase, garlic and onion can be included back into our diet as tolerated.
Low FODMAP Garlic and Onion Substitutes
Garlic-Infused Oil (and Other Infused Oils)
Arguably the most common low FODMAP garlic and onion substitute, garlic-infused oil (and other infused oils) are an easy and versatile way to add a hint of FODMAP-friendly garlic (or onion) flavor.
What is garlic-infused oil and is it low FODMAP?
Garlic-infused oil is a product where garlic has been steeped in oil (olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.) to allow for the transfer of non-FODMAP flavor. Garlic-infused oil and other infused oils have been laboratory tested by both Monash University and the FODMAP Friendly Food Program and are low FODMAP.
How is garlic-infused oil low FODMAP, but garlic is not?
To answer this, we need a bit of background science information. FODMAPs are types of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are water-soluble, but not oil-soluble. This fact means that FODMAPs will dissolve in water (and other water-based liquids like broth), but not in oil.
When making garlic-infused oil, garlic cloves steep in oil over time. This process allows for the transfer of non-FODMAP flavors to move into the oil. The FODMAPs, because they are not oil-soluble, do not dissolve and instead, stay locked up within the garlic cloves.
If the garlic cloves are completely removed and discarded from the oil before eating or adding any other water-containing food or liquid, the oil should not contain FODMAPs. This principle also applies to other infused oils like shallot-infused or onion-infused oil.
Are all garlic-infused oils low FODMAP?
There is a little debate as to whether all garlic-infused oils are suitable for the low FODMAP diet. Some commercially-made infused oils do not follow the same infusion procedure as described above. Laboratory testing of FODMAP levels is the only surefire way to know if something is low FODMAP. So, if you have any concern, please choose a certified low FODMAP product.
With that said, my nutrition philosophy as a FODMAP-trained registered dietitian is to avoid overly restricting foods (and adding undue stress) unless necessary. There will always be exceptions, but in my practice, I generally invite my clients to start with what they can find first. If symptoms persist, we will reassess and maybe consider a certified low FODMAP product.
Is garlic-infused oil safe?
There is a small, but severe risk of botulism poisoning from incorrectly stored, homemade infused oils. Commercially-prepared garlic-infused oils are safe to consume. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires manufacturers of commercially infused oil to follow strict food safety procedures and acidify their products to prevent botulism and other serious foodborne illnesses.
Please use caution when making and storing homemade infused oils. Due to the ideal environment created for Clostridium botulinum growth, it is unsafe to store homemade garlic-infused oil at room temperature unless it has been acidified using this procedure. Please note, many recipes online do not include this acidification step.
To use and safely store homemade garlic-infused oils:
- Use immediately after preparing
- Refrigerate for use within 2 to 4 days (and discard any remaining oil after this time)
- Freeze for longer use
Where can I find garlic-infused oil?
Commercially-made garlic-infused oils can be purchased online, as well as in a growing number of US grocery stores. Some favorites include:
- FODY Foods Garlic-Infused Olive Oil (certified low FODMAP)
- FODY Foods Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Shallots (certified low FODMAP)
- Garlic Gold Garlic-Infused Olive Oil
- La Tourangelle Garlic-Infused Sunflower Oil
How do I use garlic-infused oil?
Use garlic-infused oil in many regular recipes calling for garlic. It will not be an exact replacement or direct substitution, but garlic-infused oil can be a great way to add garlicky flavor to low FODMAP dishes. It can be used during the cooking process or drizzled on after cooking for a hint of garlic flavor.
How I use it in low FODMAP recipes: Many recipes calling for garlic will also use some type of oil or cooking fat. To make a recipe more FODMAP-friendly, I omit the garlic (and onion) entirely from the ingredients. Then, I will try a one-to-one substitution of garlic-infused oil for the amount of oil or cooking fat called for in the recipe. As the flavor and intensity of infused oil can vary, and there is an infinite number of recipes out there, this method will not always work. However, I have found it to be a good general starting point.
Some recipes using garlic-infused oil:
- Low FODMAP Chicken Cacciatore
- Low FODMAP Moroccan Chicken
- Low FODMAP Pesto
- Low FODMAP “Garlic” Fries
- Low FODMAP “Garlic” Mushroom Pasta
Green Onion Tops
Green onions or scallions are related to onions and can be a FODMAP-friendly way to add a hint onion flavor to dishes … if you know which part to use!
Are green onions or scallions low FODMAP?
Monash University has tested green onions, and green onions can be low FODMAP depending on the part of the onion used. The green tops of scallions or green onions are low in FODMAPs meaning that you can use them to add oniony flavor on the low FODMAP diet. The white part or bulb of the green onion is high in FODMAPs and avoided during the low FODMAP diet.
How do I use green onion tops?
When ready to use, slice off the white bulb at the point where the dark green tops start to fade into the white bulb. Discard the white bulb, gift it to someone who isn’t low FODMAPing, or use it to regrow green onion tops (see “How to re-grow green onions” section for more information).
Rinse the green onion tops under running water. Pat dry. Slice or chop and add as a fresh and flavorful garnish to all kinds of savory dishes.
Where do I find green onions and how do I select them?
Find green onions in the produce section of most grocery stores. During the summer months, you may also find them at farmer’s markets, or try your hand at growing them if you enjoy gardening.
Choose green onions with bright green, fresh-looking tops. Avoid any that are wilted or dried out.
How to store green onion tops?
To store, roll unwashed green onion tops in dry paper towels. Place the wrapped green onion tops in a sealable plastic bag or glass pyrex container and seal. Refrigerate, replacing the paper towel as needed.
How to re-grow green onions?
Easily re-grow green onions for a (near) endless supply of FODMAP-friendly flavor.
- Separate the green onion tops from the white bulbs with the roots by cutting at the point where the dark green tops start to fade. Use the green onion tops for low FODMAP cooking. Save the white bulbs with the roots.
- Fill a small glass container with 1-2 inches of clean water. Place the bulbs, root-side down, into the water. Transfer the glass container to an area with daylight.
- Replace the water every 2-3 days (when it starts to get cloudy) and watch your onions re-grow. It often takes about two weeks to re-grow to their original size.
Relatives of onions and garlic, chives are often used as a fresh garnish and can add a hint of FODMAP-friendly garlic flavor to many dishes.
Are chives low FODMAP?
Yes, chives are low FODMAP. Both, chives and Asian chives, have been laboratory-tested by Monash University
How do I use chives?
Chives are best used fresh, often as a garnish, rather than cooked into dishes. They have a subtle onion-garlic flavor. Finely mince chives and use them to garnish eggs, potatoes, soups, mayonnaise-based dressings, and more.
Where do I find chives?
Find fresh chives in the produce section of most grocery stores. You will often find them near other pre-packaged fresh herbs. Chives are also relatively easy to grow in a garden or patio containers.
How to store chives?
To store, roll unwashed chives in a dry paper towel. Place the wrapped chives in a plastic bag or glass container and seal. Refrigerate for up to one week, replacing the paper towel as needed.
Leeks look like giant green onions, and their leaves can be a great way to add FODMAP-friendly onion flavor to many cooked recipes.
Are leeks low FODMAP?
Monash University has tested leeks, and they are low FODMAP depending on the part of the leek used. The leek leaves, or dark green top parts of the leek, are low FODMAP in up to a ⅔ cup serving. The bulb, or lower white part, is high in FODMAPs and avoided during the low FODMAP diet.
Where can I find leeks and how do I select them?
Many larger grocery stores carry leeks in their produce department. I had really good luck finding affordable leeks at my local Walmart.
When selecting leeks, choose those with firm, crisp stalks. For low FODMAP purposes, select leeks with larger portions of green leaves. Avoid any with withering or browning leaves.
How do I prepare leek leaves?
When ready to use, slice off the white bulb at the point where the dark green leaves start to fade. Discard the white bulb, gift to someone who isn’t low FODMAPing, or use it to regrow leek leaves.
You will often find a sandy grit in between the leek leaves. This grit should be washed away before using. To do this, separate the leek leaves and wash them thoroughly under running water. Dry the leaves and then thinly slice or chop for use in recipes.
How do I use leek leaves?
Raw leek leaves tend to be tough, and although they are edible, the leaves are not usually eaten raw. Instead, I recommend trying them in recipes where they will be cooked to soften. Leek leaves can be sautéed in oil until bright green, fragrant, and soft and used much like sautéed onion or garlic. Alternatively, they can be added to slow cooking dishes like soups or stews.
Asafoetida Powder (or Hing)
Asafoetida powder, also known as hing, is a dried resin that has been used for centuries in India for cooking and traditional medicine. When used in cooking, asafoetida adds a subtle onion and garlic flavor without FODMAPs.
Is asafoetida low FODMAP?
Yes, asafoetida powder is low FODMAP. It has been laboratory-tested by Monash University.
Is asafoetida safe to eat?
For the majority of people, asafoetida is safe to eat. However, asafoetida has been shown to have some pregnancy-preventive properties. Avoid asafoetida if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Asafoetida is naturally gluten-free; however, some products contain wheat flour and are not suitable for those requiring a gluten-free diet.
How do I use asafoetida?
Start with a small amount and sauté it! Raw asafoetida powder has a pungent odor and flavor, especially if you’re not used to it. The smell and taste of asafoetida mellow when sautéed in a cooking fat like butter, ghee, or coconut oil. So, I always recommend sauteeing it!
To use asafoetida, start with a tiny pinch and add it to 1-2 tablespoons of hot oil. Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until the asafoetida odor starts to mellow. Use this oil immediately to continue cooking veggies or protein foods, or add it to curries, soups, and more.
How do I store asafoetida?
Store asafoetida in an airtight container to not only maintain freshness but also prevent everything else from smelling like asafoetida. 🙂
Where to find asafoetida?
Your turn! What’s your experience with low FODMAP garlic and onion substitutes?
Have you tried any of the low FODMAP garlic and onion substitutes mentioned above? If so, what has been your favorite? Please share any of your tips and tricks in the comments below. We can all help one another!5