Ginger Recipes and Cooking Tips (2024)

Ginger lends its zing to sweet and savory dishes and drinks across a wide range of cuisines. In Caribbean, Indian, and Asian cuisines, fresh ginger root is featured in many meat, seafood, and vegetable dishes. In Western cooking, ground ginger often lends a note of spice to cookies, preserves, and quick breads, along with beverages such as ginger ale and tea.

Ginger Recipes and Cooking Tips (1)

What Is Ginger?

Ginger is the gnarled bumpy root of the ginger plant Zingiber officiale, which belongs to the same family asturmericand cardamom. It was domesticated in the islands of Southeast Asia and came to the West via the spice trade. Though there are many varieties of ginger root, the most common has light brown skin and yellow flesh. Ginger is available in six forms: fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallized (or candied), and powdered/ground. It's easily used both in sweet and savory cooking applications.

Varieties of Ginger

Ginger has different uses depending on the form and variety.

Ground ginger (also referred to aspowdered ginger) is dried and ground ginger root. It is readily available in supermarkets and is used primarily in sweets and curry mixes.

Fresh ginger is available in two forms: young and mature. The young roots are also calledgreenorspring ginger. They have a pale, thin skin that requires no peeling, is very tender, and has a milder flavor. It can be grated, chopped, or julienned for use.

Mature ginger root has a tough skin that must be peeled away to get to the fibrous flesh and is usually grated, chopped, or ground for use. If you notice a blue ring after slicing fresh ginger, do not be alarmed. It is not mold or fungus. It is simply a Hawaiian variety of ginger known asblue-ring gingerorChinese white ginger. This variety is considered superior for its juiciness and bright flavor. They are also larger rhizomes and generally cleaner but also usually more expensive.

Dried ginger is usually found in whole fingers and also in slices. It is usually soaked in a recipe's liquid before using and isn't hard to dehydrate at home.

Pickled ginger, calledgariorbeni shogain Japan, is pickled in sweet vinegar and is usually colored bright red or pink. It is a familiar accompaniment to sushi and is also eaten to refresh the breath. Available at Asian markets, it should be kept refrigerated in its container.

Preserved ginger is available in Asian and specialty markets. This form has been preserved in a sugar-salt mixture. It is generally used as a confection or added to desserts, and it is especially good with melon.

Crystallized or candied ginger has been cooked in a sugar syrup until tender and then coated with granulated sugar. It is commonly used in desserts and can easily be made at home.

Ginger Recipes and Cooking Tips (2)

Ginger Recipes and Cooking Tips (3)

Ginger Recipes and Cooking Tips (5)

Ginger Recipes and Cooking Tips (6)

Ginger vs. Galangal

These two ingredients are easily confused because they're both rhizomes used in Southeast Asian cuisines. Galangal is in the same family as ginger and is definitely a close relative of both ginger and turmeric but tends to be less sweet and rounded in its taste. Instead, it is sharper, more peppery, and spicier. But like ginger, it's also available fresh, ground, or dried and sliced. Galangal is used in Thai food, but it's also widely implemented in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for its healing properties.

What Does It Taste Like?

The flavor of fresh ginger is slightly peppery and sweet, with a pungent and spicy aroma.Much like garlic, fresh ginger mellows with cooking and turns bitter if burned. The ground form is not as strongly flavored but has a warm bite and a little sweetness. Ground ginger is used often in desserts and isnoteasily swapped with fresh ginger.

Cooking With Ginger

Generally, peeling fresh ginger can be a matter of personal preference or based on what the recipe indicates. Many people like to peel mature fresh ginger before use, whereas young ginger doesn't typically have much skin. It is used in myriad preparations including marinades, soups, and curries. It's hard to make a good stir-fry without it, for example, and its juice can be implemented in sauces. Ground ginger can simply be added at the appropriate step to the batter or the cooking pot. Pickled ginger is served on the side as a condiment.

Ginger is an incredibly versatile ingredient to add to drinks such as teas, sodas, and co*cktails. As the name indicates, it's easy to make a simple syrup infused with fresh ginger to flavor mixed drinks such as shrubs and sodas. Ginger root tea is one of those utilitarian beverages that work equally well hot or cold. Ginger naturally pairs well with honey, lemon, and many fruits such as peaches, blueberries, and cranberries.

Recipes With Ginger

Ginger, in all its versatility, appears in an array of savory dishes, spice blends, condiments, sauces, desserts, and drinks. It's almost impossible to list the ways in which ginger can be used in cooking.


Ground ginger is more concentrated than fresh ginger but has less of a bite. If you only have ground on hand, 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger equals 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger. However, this won't be appropriate for every recipe, such as in baked goods. In those cases, it may be better to substitute another ground spice such as pumpkin pie spice, allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, or nutmeg. These can also be used as a substitute for fresh ginger in a pinch. When making sweets, you can substitute 1/8 teaspoon of ground ginger for every tablespoon ofcrystallized ginger and adjust the sugar according to taste.

Where to Buy Ginger

Ground ginger can be found in the spice section, sold in small jars. Look for crystallized ginger in the baking or bulk foods section. You may need to go to an Asian or specialty market to find pickled or preserved ginger.

Fresh ginger can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores. Look for smooth skin with a fresh, spicy fragrance, and avoid those whose ends show signs of mold. Tubers should be firm and feel heavy. Its length is a sign of maturity, and mature rhizomes will be hotter and more fibrous. Avoid those with wrinkled flesh, as this indicates the ginger is past its prime. Sometimes you can find fresh ground ginger root in the produce section, available in plastic bottles or tubes that require refrigeration.

Those looking to avoid any question of pesticides can find organic ginger fairly easily in ground and fresh forms.

For a never-ending supply of ginger, plant the root in a small pot and put it on a windowsill. Whenever you need ginger for a recipe, lift the plant, cut off a piece of the root, and then return it to the pot. If you keep it watered, you'll never run out of fresh ginger.


Ground, crystallized, and dried ginger should be kept in a cool, dark cabinet in an airtight container for the best shelf life. Pickled and preserved ginger should be kept in their original containers in the refrigerator.

Fresh, unpeeled root should be wrapped in paper towels, placed in a plastic bag and refrigerated for up to three weeks. It may also be tightly wrapped and frozen up to two months. To use frozen ginger, slice off or grate a piece of unthawed root.

Peeled ginger root may be stored in a lidded glass jar with enough vodka or sherry wine to cover it completely. However, storing peeled ginger in wine will impart that flavor, so keep that in mind. It should be good for several weeks at least; toss it when the alcohol starts to look cloudy, which indicates mold or bacteria may be present.

Ginger Recipes and Cooking Tips (2024)


What is ginger best used for in cooking? ›

Cooking With Ginger

Ginger imparts remarkable flavor to gingerbread, brandy snaps, and ginger pudding. It can be made into tea, cooked down to a jam, preserved in sugar syrup, or sugar-coated and dried into snackable crystallized ginger.

What is the best way to cook ginger? ›

Peel and slice a small piece of fresh ginger (about 1 inch). Boil water in a pot and add the ginger slices. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavor to infuse.

What are the best things to do with fresh ginger? ›

Fresh Ginger Recipes
  • Easy. Smoked Mackerel Rundown. ...
  • Easy. Skillet Eggs With Garam Masala and Tomatoes. ...
  • Easy. Baked Fish With Olives and Ginger. ...
  • Easy. One-Pot Mushroom and Ginger Rice. ...
  • Chashu. Farideh Sadeghin. ...
  • Easy. Skillet Ginger Chicken With Apricots. ...
  • Easy. Spicy Caramelized Shrimp With Lemongrass. ...
  • Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings)

Should you peel ginger before cooking? ›

If the ginger is young and the skin is very fine or if it is going to be finely chopped or grated, you can skip the peeling step. If the skin is thicker or you're chopping the ginger more coarsely and don't want the skin to be included, then it's best to peel the ginger beforehand.

What foods taste good with ginger? ›

Ginger has a natural affinity for pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. These starchy vegetables provide the perfect canvas for ginger's spicy, floral heat. Add ginger, along with gratings of nutmeg and black pepper, to any recipe for sweet potato casserole. Who needs marshmallows when you have this much flavor?

What is the healthiest way to consume ginger? ›

Ginger tea is a healthier alternative to ginger ale, ginger beer and other commercial canned or bottled ginger beverages. These drinks provide ginger's benefits, but many contain a lot of sugar. It may be better to limit these to occasional treats or choose sugar-free options.

Can I eat raw ginger? ›

It is also proven to boost one's health due to its medicinal value. Millions of people the world over swear by the healing power of ginger. You can eat it whole, ground, cooked or raw. Ginger is a spicy root that has proven to be an effective natural remedy for some common diseases.

Does boiling ginger destroy its benefits? ›

Lemon and ginger are normally good sources of vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium. However, dehydrating and boiling the ingredients tend to remove these nutrients, leaving only small amounts in the final tea.

What not to mix ginger with? ›

Avoid using ginger together with other herbal/health supplements that can lower blood sugar, such as alpha-lipoic acid, chromium, damiana, devil's claw, fenugreek, garlic, guar gum, horse chestnut, Panax ginseng, psyllium, Siberian ginseng, and others.

Should fresh ginger be refrigerated? ›

Room temperature: Unpeeled and uncut ginger root will last up to 3 weeks stored on the counter at room temperature. Refrigerator: When properly wrapped and stored in the crisper drawer, unpeeled ginger can last for up to 1 month in the fridge. Peeled ginger will last 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

When not to take ginger? ›

Pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with heart conditions, and people with diabetes should not take ginger without talking to their doctors. DO NOT take ginger if you have a bleeding disorder or if you are taking blood-thinning medications, including aspirin.

Do I need to wash ginger? ›

"I often slice off coins of unpeeled ginger and steep in hot water for the tastiest ginger tea. The peel may contain more fiber [than the rest of the ginger root]." Dana emphasized that the peel should be washed thoroughly before you use it, just like any produce with edible skin.

What are the benefits of eating ginger? ›

Ginger may have numerous health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and other properties. It may help you lose weight, manage arthritis, reduce menstrual symptoms, and more. Ginger comes from a flowering plant originating in Southeast Asia.

How much ginger is too much? ›

How much ginger should you take daily? Ginger is safe to eat daily, but experts recommend limiting yourself to 3 to 4 grams a day — stick to 1 gram daily if you're pregnant. Taking more than 6 grams of ginger a day has been proven to cause gastrointestinal issues such as reflux, heartburn and diarrhea.

Why do you put ginger in meat? ›

When ginger is slowly cooked, it mellows and tenderizes, adding a husky warmth to all that it touches. An enzyme in ginger called protease digests protein, enabling it, in a marinade, to soften and tenderize meat.

Why do Chinese use ginger in cooking? ›

Ginger was used in 48% of Chinese dish, the proportion being highest when meat or fish was boiled or steamed. This suggests that ginger was mainly used as a deodorant or for enhancing the flavor and taste.

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