How to Cook Without Garlic, Onions & Tomato


Are you someone who starts chopping an onion or clove of garlic as soon as you walk into the kitchen? Well the good news is, it’s possible to cook without garlic, onions and tomato.

And still make incredibly flavoursome food.

As I shared with one of my students recently…

“Hi Jules.

My wife recently went to a diet for medical reasons that limits foods that are acidic.

Tomatoes, onion, and garlic are no longer acceptable.

Along with lots of other items.

I am a bit past staring at the pan with olive oil and not knowing what to add to build flavor.

Yes, I do more than 1/2 the cooking and yes I now understand that I started most things with onion or garlic or both. Tomatoes are everywhere.

I could use some suggestions.

Can you point me to anything here to quicken my search as i need to change not only my ‘usual’ stuff but the base flavor building also.

The positive is that the red wine is all mine!


Hi Jeff!

Glad to hear you’re happy to help with the red wine consumption!

I too am avoiding onion and garlic for my Irishman’s low FODMAP experiment.

Mostly I just leave them out of whatever I’m cooking and it’s fine.

How to Cook Without Tomato, Garlic & Onions

1. Focus on what you can eat.

Especially things that add lots of flavour like anchovies, olives, capers, cheese (especially parmesan), chilli, spices, ginger, miso paste, fresh herbs. You get the idea.

2. Try seeing it as an experiment to expand your repertoire.

And know it’s totally possible to make delicious food without tomato, onion and garlic. I promise.

3. Use salt

Salt is the best flavour enhancer. So make sure you’re generous with your seasoning!

If you need help with seasoning see this beginners guide to the art of seasoning.

4. Choose simple recipes

I rarely use onion in my recipes. If I do use garlic, mostly you can leave it out. So have a browse through the recipes on Stonesoup and pick a few that sound good to you.

It’s won’t take long to build a repertoire of new favourites that work for you.

5. My Favourite Onion Substitutes

Chopped chives – added at the end of a dish are amazing for giving a little oniony flavour kick.

Green Onion Tops – (pictured below) the green parts are fine for low FODMAPs. The flavour is stronger than chives so they’re my go-to when I want a bigger oniony boost.

green onions

6. My Favourite Garlic Substitutes

Garlic oil – you can buy commercial garlic oils, but I just marinate a few crushed cloves of garlic in olive oil for as long as I’ve got. Sometimes 10 minutes sometimes overnight. Then discard the garlic and use the beautifully flavoured oil.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For people with specific allergies to alliums (not just FODMAP problems) garlic oil can still be problematic so best to avoid. Same with chives and green onion tops.

7. My Favourite Tomato Substitutes

To be honest, I haven’t had to avoid tomato so this list is more from where I would start, rather than actual experience.

Tomatoes provide sweetness and also umami (or savouriness) to a dish. So think about how you can add both of these elements.

Other sources of umami include miso paste, soy sauce, olives, mushrooms (not FODMAP friendly!), parmesan cheese and bone broths or stocks.

Other sources of sweetness include cooked beets, carrots, cooked apples or other fresh or dried fruit. Although if you’re also on the Low Carb path, like me, go easy with the sweetness.

Don’t make this mistake!

If you’re avoiding garlic and onions from a low FODMAP perspective, don’t think you can just fish out the garlic / onions at the end of cooking.

FODMAPS are carbohydrates so are highly water soluble.

This means if you cook a curry or something in liquid the FODMAPS will pass into the cooking water. So even if you remove the solid parts, you can still have problems.

Soaking in oil is fine because the FODMAPS aren’t soluble in oil and don’t pass into it.

And avoid garlic and onion powders – these are a concentrated form of FODMAPS!

What about you?

Do you have any special dietary requirements you need help with? Share in the comments below so we can explore some possibilities.

More Special Diets

And don’t forget to have fun in the kitchen!

With love
Jules x

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  • Hi Jules,

    I use canned tomatoes on EVERYTHING! I don’t need to avoid them but often wonder what I could use instead for a change every now and then…

    Any suggestions? Thank you!

    • I’ve been using passata so I’m not using so many cans Margaret.

      Using stock to make up the liquid is a good place to start and then adding a flavouring like pesto / olive tapenade can help.

      If you have a specific example I would be able to give a better idea :)

  • I wish cruise ship kitchens would read this article. We go on long cruises, and their over-use of tomatoes got me thoroughly sick of canned ones. My sister can no longer eat alliums. I think it’s allergies that developed late in life, but I will share with her the garlic oil idea, in case she wants to try that to see if it works for her. This is a very useful post. Thank you!

  • Yay! Perfect timing, I LOVE garlic, tomatoes and onions, but they don’t love me. My all time favorite is to eat Vidalia Onions like an apple.

    Thanks for the options


    • Wow Aaron – I havem’t come across Vidalia onions – they sound delicious though if you can eat them like an apple.

      Glad you found this helpful :)

    • I sometimes cook for some one that can’t eat onions of any kind and garlic and food with lots of sodium. It seems like every recipe has onions and garlic in it. Most of the food I buy has lots of sodium. I know I can leave out onions and garlic and salt from recipes that use them but the problem is that it changes the flavor of the recipe. I can’t find any onion and garlic substitutes that aren’t onions and garlic in some form.

  • Hello, be careful if you,make garlic oil. It’s not safe to drop garlic in the oil. There is a risk of botulism. It is necessary to ferment the garlic first in salt and waterne then you can use it to flavor the oil. Thank you for your blog.
    Have a nice day !

    • Thanks for sharing Sophie!
      And good reminder on being careful with the risk of botulism and garlic oil.

      I only leave the garlic to marinate for a few hours which is low risk.

      If I wanted to make a more shelf stable oil, I would cook the oil. I haven’t come across the idea of fermenting the garlic first.

  • Hi! You asked for users to comment with dietary constraints. I really struggle with mine in cooking and eating at restaurants. I have an extreme sensitivity to capsaicin and a few aromatics like garlic, ginger, and clove to the point where even black pepper can cause my taste buds to swell and die. I tend to use salts and smoke for flavoring but I’d like to have more variety in food without it feeling bland. So many dishes are built around spices like curry and chili which I can’t work with. Any help would be much appreciated!

    • Wow Danielle!

      I though the FODMAP protocol was tricky for eating out – Black pepper and ginger, garlic and cloves would be tough in restaurants.

      For home cooking though you have so many options. I’d really focus on all the herbs. They are amazing for adding fragrance and depth of flavour. And the other thing I’d think about for you is things that have a lot of umami (savoury) flavours so parmesan cheese, mushrooms, tomato paste, soy sauce, miso..

      Hope that helps!

      • ooh and roast nuts are my secret weapon for adding amazing flavour as well as crunchy texture. If the texture is interesting you’re less likely to worry about blandness :)

        • It does make restaurants a challenge although it’s easier on the wallet :) silver lining. Those are some great suggestions and I really appreciate it! I am a texture person so I can’t wait to try the roast nuts. I’ve never cooked with miso. I think I’ve had a soup with miso but I stopped when I ran into tofu *cringe* that doesn’t have a nice texture.

          • Miso is one of my favourite favourite ingredients! Definitely explore Danielle. So much flavour!

            Its funny I like the texture of tofu – but can totally see why it could make you cringe :)

      • Hi,
        this is giving me hope. Since catching a virus last May I haven’t been able to cope with the smell or taste of some things, the worst being onion and it’s relatives. I also can no longer eat previous favourites like chicken and ham; they just don’t smell like they used to. I do still like tomato, cabbage and lots of veg fortunately but I have to keep a good distance from Burger Bars and even restaurants tend to be fairly unpleasant place to me nowadays.

        • Hello, Im right there with you. I had the virus 3 times with the last time destroying my smell and taste. So many things constantly change in taste and scent that it’s kinda hard to eat anything but sweets. I cannot tolerate onions garlic lunch meats cooked tomatoes. Theses are the worst. Using a cutting board and cookware introduce cross contamination this is a big deal. I cook alot of Mexican food and its just not the same. I ve yet to find something that will work for onion and garlic. I don’t cook much anymore because the smells make me sick

  • I used to have a really nasty allium intolerance, so garlic, chive, leeks, shallots, and especially onions were major sources of problems when I cooked. A lot of the recipes on your blog actually helped me, especially the older five ingredient ones, because there were so few ingredients and so many substitution options. I used carrots and celery in many of my dishes to add an aromatic to the base without onions.

    • Glad you found Stonesoup helpful Anna,

      I often don’t use onions in my recipes because they add a good 10 minutes to a recipe and you often don’t notice if they’re not there :)

  • I am intolerant to garlic and dairy. How would garlic oil be different from cooking with garlic? How do you ferment the garlic to make it work? I work around the garlic with other spices, but, my husband sure misses it!

    • Garlic oil just has the flavour compounds infused in it without the physical garlic solids – which cause problems for people with IBS. It depends on the reason for your garlic intolerance whether garlic oil would be OK for you Cynthia.

  • I have had to learn to cook Fodmap foods due to my job for 1 out of 3 clients. It can be hard when most of the food I cook with at home consists of putting garlic or other spices in. The tomatoes dont really matter to me because I am still learning to like them. It is just hard when only certain and a low variety of foods are bought for the house where you work and all the recipes online consist of garlic or onion. Slowly finding recipes.

  • I come from a family where some of us are intolerant to garlic and onion and have found the spice asafoetida to be a great replacement to them. It’s also reputed to be good for your digestion and can relieve the symptoms or IBS.

  • I want to eat less meat and be more healthy with my eating habits due to medical conditions. I am running into issues with vegetarian and vegan options because I am allergic to the following: avocado, carrot, onion, tomato, tree nuts. It is difficult to find recipes that don’t include allergen ingredients. I also need to stay low on calcium oxalate and uric acids. This has been a frustrating challenge. Any ideas?

  • I have to avoid tomatoes, onion, garlic AND salt. I’ve done FODMAP before but I am really struggling with the lack of salt. No flavor! All the salt free seasonings seem to have garlic and onion powder in them. Lemon and pepper is getting really boring. Any suggestions? I am able to eat most spices.

    • Hi Erika,
      I am sorry to hear about that, and I wondered if you tried a dab of citric acid instead of lemon? Sometimes this will give a sharper different result. Also, I use a lot of lime and lemon zest, which adds a floral note that is distinctive.
      Have you tried many different vinegars? the range of flavor there can do a lot, from malted vinegars to white balsamic, and then some, really nice additions.

      I like to experiment with adding any dried herbs to the vinegar and letting that sit for about 15 minutes, and this boosts the flavor all around for the cooking.

  • This was a helpful article as I have struggled with reflux for most of my life and told to eliminate tomatoes, onion, peppermint, spicy foods, etc. I have difficulty digesting potatoes (reason unknown) and am lactose intolerant. I was told to eat only bland foods and I am feeling frustrated, which led me to this site. I am encouraged to now try to think of this as a challenge, instead of an obstacle and see what I can come up with by focusing on lean proteins and various fresh vegetables. And using healthy fruits as desserts, focusing more on what I can instead of what I cannot eat. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated though. THANKS!!

    • Eccellent idea on the mindset shift Debra – and fresh herbs might be fun to play around with. And also nuts for texture. You can have fun with it!

  • I’ve got severe reflux. I can’t eat garlic, tomatoes, onions, peppers, citrus fruits or anything spicy. This limits me so much. I need to make and eat bland food or I get very sick and experience intense pain and reflux symptoms. I can’t eat any foods from the onion family. They also make me very sick. Sometimes I can handle foods flavoured with garlic but not all the time. My stomach is more forgiving towards garlic than onion.

    I’m tired of being a burden to others as they feel they can’t cater for me when I’m over for a meal. And I’m tired of eating the same foods. I want to be more creative when I cook.

    If you’re up for a challenge, I’d love some advice!

    From Jade

    • I’d love to help Jade – why don’t you start thinking about all the food that you CAN eat – there are so many spices and herbs that add flavour. How can you have fun exploring new options?

      How does that sound?

  • I have newly been put on a non-dairy, no salt no phosphate, no potassium renal diet. That means no tomatoes, no oatmeal, no cheese, no meaty breads, egg whites only, and I’m a type 1 diabetic. Using red peppers for fresh tomatoes works so many thanks for that. Any other advice?

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