Ground ginger, also known as ginger powder, is a spice commonly associated with wintry baked goods, like gingerbread. Its sweet, floral, slightly peppery flavor pairs so well with other warming spices, like nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon, but it can do so much more than it’s known for.
Here’s everything you need to know about ground ginger, and oft-overlooked spice that deserves a place in your pantry.
Origin: Made from pulverized, dried ginger root, and as a dry spice
Often used in: Baked goods, but also in places fresh ginger might typically be seen, like curries, stews, or braises
Substitutes: Fresh ginger, or measure for measure with allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice
What is Ground Ginger and How is it Different from Fresh Ginger?
When you think of ginger, you probably think of the knobby, papery-skinned, golden-fleshed rhizome found in the produce section of the supermarket. Today it’s used as a spice in many different cuisines around the world, but the plant itself originally comes from Southeast Asia, specifically the maritime nations of Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore. Eaten fresh it can be grated, steeped, pickled, sliced, and candied.
Ground ginger is made from pulverized, dried ginger root, and as a dry spice, it’s used most often in baked goods, but it can also make appearances in places where fresh ginger might typically be seen, like curries, stews, or braises.
What Does Ground Ginger Taste Like?
Fresh ginger root is pungent, spicy, and sweet, and while ground ginger retains some of that pepper spice and sweetness, its flavor is much more mild. If you seek out a very high-quality ground ginger, you might find the flavor more intense and reminiscent of the flavor of fresh.
If you want to use ground ginger as a substitute for fresh, or vice versa, you should use the ratio 6:1 fresh to ground as a rule of thumb, but keep in mind that for some recipes (like sweets or baked goods), fresh ginger would not be a great substitute for ground, as the flavor is much more potent and astringent.
Where to Buy
How to Make Your Own Ground Ginger
You can also try making your own ground ginger. Here’s how:
- Peel fresh ginger root: If you’re going through the effort to make your own, you might as well use 2 - 4 roots, but the amount is up to you!
- Slice: Very thinly slice the ginger with a knife or mandoline.
- Bake at 140ºF for 3 hours: Line the slices up on a baking sheet. Make sure the pieces aren’t overlapping or touching. Place the baking sheet on the lowest rack in your oven and dry the ginger at the lowest temperature your oven can go, typically around 140ºF. It will need around 3 hours to dry, but you should check the ginger every so often to make sure it’s not burning. The ginger is done once it snaps when you bend it.
- Cool, then grind into a fine powder: Transfer your dried, cooled ginger to a food processor or spice grinder and grind into a fine powder.
- Sift, then grind again: Sift using a fine mesh sieve, grind again, and then transfer to an airtight container. Stored properly, it will last up to 6 months.
How to Store
Just like you would other spices, ground ginger needs to be stored in an airtight container away from heat and light, like in your pantry, cabinet, or spice drawer. Ground ginger will last up to two years but can lose its potency and flavor well before this, so it’s best practice to label your spices with the date so you can easily go through and discard and replace anything that’s past two years old.
If you smell your ground ginger and get no fragrance at all, it might also be a good time to replace it.
Substitutes for Ground Ginger
For savory recipes, the best substitute for ground ginger is, unsurprisingly, fresh ginger. If you don’t have fresh ginger or are making something sweet or a baked good, try replacing ground ginger measure for measure with allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice. The flavor profile will of course not be quite the same in the end, but these spices work in a pinch!
Be careful not to double-up on spices; for instance, if you want to substitute cinnamon for ground ginger in a cake recipe, but the cake already calls for cinnamon, best to find another replacement that’s not yet in the recipe.
Recipes That Use Ground Ginger
Ground ginger is a great, warming spice that can be used for sweet or savory recipes. It works well in combination with other spices, and even other preparations of ginger (think candied or fresh). Here are some of our favorite recipes using ground ginger.