Here’s a Substitute for Garlic Pepper

If you’re a fan of firing up the grill on the weekend or even adding a little extra heat to a weeknight spaghetti, chances are you’ve reached into the spice cabinet for the garlic pepper. But, what do you do when that jar is freshly run out? Here’s how you can learn how to use and how to substitute for garlic pepper.

Garlic pepper has no direct substitute since it’s a blend of many spices. However, it can be replicated basically by mixing black pepper and garlic powder. This blend can be elevated to more closely reach the store-bought stuff by adding in extra seasonings like salt, cayenne, paprika, parsley, and a touch of sugar.

What to do when you’ve run out

So you’ve reached into the cupboard and found yourself fresh out of your favorite spice mix. The simplest option is to run out to the store and buy a fresh container, but sometimes, you just don’t have time for that trip.

Unfortunately, garlic pepper doesn’t have a one-to-one substitute. It has such a unique blend of flavors that even different brands won’t taste quite right compared to the stuff you’ve got at home.

Because of this, your best bet for figuring out what to do once out is to take a shot at making your own at home.

Homemade Garlic Pepper

The storebought stuff has a nostalgic, savory flavor that’s hard to replicate, but you can approach it at home with stuff you’ve probably got around.

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Quick and basic Garlic Pepper

The most basic form of homemade garlic pepper takes ground and dried garlic in any of its forms, whether that be powdered or granulated, and mixes it with freshly ground black pepper in equal parts.

This mix won’t have the same complexity of flavor that the original stuff has, but the fruity, spicy notes of fresh ground black pepper will be sure to elevate your sauces and steaks.

The Mix

As a warning, you might not have all the ingredients for the real mix. You might have to empty out the spice cabinet, but if you’re a garlic pepper fiend, the effort will be worth it.

Mix together the garlic and black pepper and add to them touches of brown sugar, cumin, paprika, cayenne, dried parsley, onion powder, and salt. The general rule of thumb is that garlic and pepper should be predominant flavors while the others should be added in ¼ to ½ tsp increments until the blend has the desired seasoning.

One reason why people like garlic pepper so much is that, unlike many spice mixes, it contains a relatively low amount of sodium. For this reason, when making it at home, it may be recommended to leave the salt out of the mix and add salt separately to the items you’re cooking.


Garlic pepper adds to savory dishes like no other spice mix with its sweet heat and umami goodness. If you need a substitute, there’s no one-to-one, but you can make a homemade mix easily enough.

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All you need is garlic powder and black pepper to max a basic mix. But if you want to chef it up, mix in brown sugar, dried parsley, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, and cumin to the pepper and garlic to make an at-home version that’s as close to the store-bought stuff you can get.