Growing up I remember my mom almost always having a box of Lipton dry onion soup mix in the pantry.
I remember pretty clearly her using it for roasts and dips, but there’s a good chance that anything that tasted good likely had a packet of dry onion soup mix in it.
You could call it a childhood classic, or a home-style favorite. A lot like stove-top mac and cheese.
You can also call it (Lipton dry onion soup mix) unhealthy.
Sure, there are a lot of other unhealthy things we could be eating, like nacho cheese Doritos (where cheese isn’t an ingredient) or soda filled with high fructose corn syrup. Or any number of snack foods that likely contained hydrogenated oils.
But transitioning to a real food diet has to start somewhere. For me, it started with boxes of cake mix and saltine crackers. (Here’s my recipe for homemade cake mix and homemade crackers, if you wanted to start there too.)
For others it might be understanding what the little stickers on fruit mean.
Or maybe it’s just looking at the tiny bag of dry onion soup mix and saying no more. No more fake stuff, no more packages, no more ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Speaking of ingredients, let’s break them down, shall we?
Onions, salt, corn starch, onion powder, sugar, soy sauce (fermented soy beans, wheat, salt) , caramel color, maltodextrin, corn syrup, yeast extract, high oleic sunflower oil, disodium guanylate, disodium inosinate.
I’m going to be honest and admit that before writing this post, I had no idea what disodium guanylate or disodium inosinate were. So let’s set those aside for a moment and talk about what we can recognize right off the bat.
First, maltodextrin and yeast extract are fancy names for MSG (monosodium glutamate, a.k.a. glutamic acid).
You can find a full list of other fancy names for MSG here.
MSG is also number 5 on my list of top ingredients to avoid because it’s an excitoxin and causes a whole range of side effects, including headaches, nausea, drowsiness and fatigue. For some people, MSG has the same side effects on the digestive system as someone who is gluten-free would have when they eat gluten!
Second, corn syrup.
Anytime I see “corn syrup” I automatically think “sugar.” There are people arguing all sorts of cases of corn syrup… whether it’s as bad as high fructose corn syrup, whether it’s really sugar or whether it’s harmful at all.
But here’s my stance. Corn syrup is made in a factory, by man and NOT found in nature. To me, that means it’s not real food (and is ultimately processed sugar.)
Third and finally, disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate.
According to Wikipedia, both are food additives that always appears with MSG. The former is not safe for babies under 12 weeks and should be avoided by asthmatics and people with gout.
I don’t know about you, but “home-style” and “favorites” sounds like classic home-cooking to me. Not chemically-induced food that tricks your brain into thinking what you’re eating tastes good.
Let’s ditch the package and make this from scratch, okay?
If that awful list of ingredients wasn’t enough, how about the fact that is CRAZY easy to make, and you probably have 99% of the ingredients in your pantry already!
In Grocery Budget Bootcamp, I talk about food priorities and determining when it’s best to make things from scratch. Dry onion soup mix is definitely on my list of things to make from scratch.
Dry Onion Soup Mix Recipe
The main players in dry onion soup mix are all pronouncable:
Also known as dehydrated onion and come in various sizes, depending on the store you’re shopping at.
Also known as granulated onion. This is a super fine powder that looks like garlic powder if you don’t read the label properly.
Ground Celery Seed
Not a common ingredient, but it really is necessary if you want that classic flavor that only packaged dry onion soup mix can give. Ground or whole seed work here. If you choose whole, you’ll want to grind them up with a mortar and pestle before making this recipe.
My mom used to use the little cubes of bullion all the time, but I read those ingredients and they’re really not that great either. Organic Better than Bullion still has MSG, although it’s “organic” (whether it’s any better is up to you). Thrive Market has the best deal on the 8 oz jar, and you can get a free 15 oz jar of coconut oil when you order through this link. Vitacost comes in second place. I don’t recommend Better than Bullion if you plan on using this recipe for dips.
You can also use a homemade beef bullion cube recipe, if you have the time and patience and you’ve made it that far in your journey. Unfortunately, beef bullion might be one of those “necessary evils” as we wait for healthier options, and that’s okay too. There’s give and take, ebb and flow to the process.
You may notice that I only listed 4 main ingredients so far. That’s because that’s all you REALLY need to make dry onion soup mix. All the other ingredients are optional.
However, I do recommend adding the other ingredients listed because it really is good! The only item I’d still consider “optional” would be the salt. Whether or not you add it depends on the type of bullion you’re using, and what you’re making. Remember that you can always add more salt, but once it’s in, you can’t take it out!
A few other recipe tips:
- If you’re using this recipe for instant soup, use homemade stock instead of beef bullion and avoid that situation entirely.
- To make this dry mix vegetarian, substitute vegetable bullion instead of beef.
- This recipe is a bigger batch. Not massive, but you’ll get at least 3 servings out of it. One ¼ cup serving is the equivalent to one package of Lipton’s dry onion soup mix.
- I like to make this big batch and store it in the spice cabinet in a re-purposed jar. Then I scoop out 4 Tablespoon (equivalent to ¼ cup) for whatever recipe I’m making.
- ¾ cup onion flakes
- ⅓ cup powdered beef bullion
- 4 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp ground celery seed
- 1 tsp granulated garlic (opt)
- 1 tsp salt (opt)
- ½ tsp pepper (opt)
- ¼ tsp sugar (opt)
- ¼ tsp paprika (opt)
- Combine all ingredients in a glass jar.
- Use ¼ cup (4 Tbsp) in lieu of one packet of dry onion soup mix.
- Store in a cool pantry.