Low FODMAP Garlic & Onion Substitutes

Published on: 03/25/2024

Garlic and onions are used in cuisines worldwide as “aromatics” because they bring aroma, flavor, and texture to food. If you are on a low FODMAP diet, you may wonder: are you destined to eat a bland diet deprived of these wonderful ingredients? Let’s find out!

Is Garlic Low FODMAP?

Garlic and onions are high in fructans. Fructans are a type of oligosaccharide (the “O” in FODMAP). In many people with IBS, they can trigger uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramping, or diarrhea. Research shows that fructans are one of the most common IBS food triggers. 

If you are in the elimination phase of the low FODMAP diet, you will need to temporarily avoid garlic, onions, garlic salt/powders, as well as scallions, shallots, and leeks. 

Do You Need to Avoid Garlic Forever?

Rest assured that you only need to eliminate garlic and the onion family for a short period, until you find relief from your gut symptoms. It’s important to remember that the low FODMAP diet is not forever! After the elimination phase, you will be reintroducing each FODMAP to figure out which group triggers your symptoms. 

And you’ll be happy to know that, in my experience counseling people with IBS, so many of my clients who could swear garlic or onions bothered them, found out that they could tolerate them well or at least in smaller amounts. For those who can’t, I recommend an enzyme to digest fructans.  


Can You Use Garlic on a Low FODMAP Diet?

In the meantime, just because you can’t eat garlic or onions, it doesn’t mean you can’t cook with them! That’s correct. You can still use them to impart flavor to your dishes. 

One thing to know about fructans is that they are not soluble in oil. This means that you can sauté garlic or onion in oil, then eliminate them, and infuse the oil with their flavor. As long as you cut them into big enough pieces that you can completely remove them. Voila! Now you can use the oil to stir-fry, brush sourdough bread, make hummus, you name it.

On the other hand, because fructans are soluble in water, you can’t make a broth or a soup with garlic or onions. The fructans would leach into the water and your dish would become high in FODMAPs.

Other Substitutes for Garlic and Onion

If you want to have a garlic or onion-infused oil handy, you can purchase an infused oil, preferably one that has been tested by Monash University and carries Monash University Low FODMAP Certified logo. Depending on the infusion procedure, some oils are not truly infused and can have traces of garlic or onion solids. 

You can also infuse your dishes with garlic or onion flavor using low FODMAP garlic salts and garlic scape powder (look for the Low FODMAP Certified logo to be sure). 

And you can use the green parts of scallions and leeks, although the flavor will not be as strong. 

But why stop here? You can add even more flavor and aroma using herbs and spices. Here are 3 Ways to Infuse Flavor Without Garlic and Onions.

Putting it all together

In conclusion, there is no reason to eat bland food while on a low FODMAP diet. You can use garlic or onions to flavor your oil, purchase some Low FODMAP Certified substitutes, or be creative with herbs and spices. You can have fun in the kitchen and cook flavorful dishes from around the world even when eliminating garlic and onions.

And don’t forget! This is just temporary until you find out your tolerance to fructans. If you haven’t figured out your triggers or are still suffering from gut symptoms and want to find relief fast, reach out!

Let’s work together

Book a free IBS Clarity Call today!

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I’m a registered dietitian with a passion for helping women with IBS find their way back to eating without fear of painful gut symptoms and without unnecessary diet restrictions.

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