It’s a crazy cryin’ shame that most leek-based recipes recommend to toss the tops. While the sought-after leek bulb is admittedly more tender, did you know that leafy green leek tops are actually the most flavorful part? Not to mention if you grow your own leeks at home like we do, the leek greens make up the bulk of the harvest! Now… why would we want to let all that tasty, nutrient-rich, bulky green goodness go to waste? We don’t. So, make dried leek powder instead!
How to Use Leek Greens
There are many wonderful ways to use leek greens: added to soup, sautés and roasts, or pan-fried into crispy bits. You can essentially use them just like an onion (as long as the tough leafy parts are cut thinly against the grain). Yet our personal favorite way to use leek greens is to turn them into leek powder. In addition to creating an awesome versatile seasoning powder, it is a very compact and efficient way to preserve leek greens – and exceedingly easy to do! The result is a sweet, savory and herbaceous onion-like powder, ready to flavor soups, sauces, rice, pasta dishes, eggs, and more!
Keep reading to learn how to make homemade leek powder using leek greens. I should mention that you can also make leek powder with just the white bulb portion as well – or using a combination of both leek greens and the bulb! The following instructions apply to both parts. I am simply assuming you’ve already put the bulb to good use, like in a killer creamy potato leek soup (see our favorite vegan potato leek soup recipe here!)
HOW TO MAKE LEEK POWDER
- Leek Greens (and/or bulbs) – Make a little, or make a lot! To create about 1.5 cups of dried leek powder, we filled and dried nine 15×15” dehydrator trays of leek green pieces.
- Food dehydrator or oven. We prefer to use a dehydrator, though it is possible to make leek powder by drying the leek greens in the oven. The use of a dehydrator will result in a more brightly-colored green leek powder and also reduce the risk for accidentally burning the leek greens.
- A good blender, food processor, or coffee grinder. We use a Vitamix.
- Airtight storage containers, such as mason jars.
1) Thoroughly Wash the Leek Greens
Since they’re grown partially underground, leeks are notoriously sandy and dirty. When making leek powder using the uppermost leek greens only, it is pretty easy to get them clean. Simply rinse them under water, and then set them aside on a clean towel or strainer to wick away excess moisture.
However, if you’re also using the bulb portion of the leek, take extra care to cut it up and peel back the layers to remove hidden dirt in the nooks and crannies.
To clean especially dirty leeks, try this trick: fill a large mixing bowl with cool water, and toss the cut leek bits into the bowl as you go. Swish them around; the sand and dirt will settle to the bottom of the bowl. Then, scoop out the leeks with your hands (leaving the dirty water in the bottom undisturbed) and transfer them into a colander for a final rinse. Also cut away the tough bottom bit that is attached to the roots.
2) Cut into Pieces
Cut the leek greens into pieces. Since they’re all going to get ground up into smithereens (uh, leek powder) anyways, the size and shape doesn’t really matter. Do what is easiest for you, and what fits nicely on your dehydrator or oven trays. To make quick work of this job, I highly suggest cutting the leek greens with clean kitchen scissors! At least that is what I do.
You’ll notice that some portions of the leek green leaves are shaped like a V, or make a little tent when placed face-down. They’ll still dry even if they aren’t laying totally flat. However, I found the extra-tall pieces made sliding my dehydrator trays on top of eachother tricky. Therefore, I ripped or cut those ones lengthwise at their natural bend to make two smaller flat pieces.
To prepare a leek bulb to dehydrate, cut it into thin slices (no more than 1/4″ thick). The thinner you go, the quicker they will dry. Furthermore, the more consistent the cuts, the more evenly they’ll finish drying together.
As you go, lay out the leek pieces on your food dehydrator trays (or onto baking sheets). You can pack a large amount on each tray! The pieces can touch side to side, but make sure they aren’t piled on top of each other. We need some space for good air flow between them.
3) Dehydrate the Leeks
Drying Leeks in a Dehydrator:
Load up your food dehydrator with the trays full of leeks, and turn that puppy on! The temperature you use is up to you. We usually dry our leeks on about 120°F, or halfway between the “herbs” and “vegetables” settings. You could go even lower to preserve the maximum nutritional value, though it will take longer. Or, crank up the temperature for a faster drying time.
In the market for a dehydrator? We can’t say enough wonderful things about our Excalibur dehydrators – we now have two! They’re made in the USA, super efficient, quiet, BPA-free, and also have stainless steel options, timers, and more. However, we got by preserving food with a more basic Nesco machine for many years prior.
Drying Leeks in the Oven:
When drying leeks in the oven, choose the lowest temperature setting possible in order to avoid charring them. Spread out the prepared leeks in a thin layer on a baking pan covered with parchment paper and bake for several hours. Check them every so often, and stir or rotate to promote even drying if needed.
Time & Texture:
The time it takes to fully dry will vary. It depends on your individual dehydrator or oven, the thickness of the leeks, and the temperature you use. In an oven or very efficient dehydrator, it may take just a few hours. On the other hand, they may slowly dry over a couple of days.
The final texture is more important than an exact time! The leeks are done when they’re 100% dry. They will shrink significantly and should easily crumble in your hand. Or when bent, they should snap and crack crisply in half. If they’re still bendy or soft instead of crunchy, keep on drying. If too much moisture is left, your leek powder will clump up (or potentially spoil) later in the storage container!
5) Turn Dried Leeks into Powder
Next, it is time to grind your crispy dry leek green bits into powder. This can be done in a blender, food processor, or coffee grinder. In a Vitamix, we are able to create a super fine, fluffy leek powder – though you could choose to leave it more flaky as well! Pulse and grind the leek powder until it reaches your desired consistency. By this point, the aroma should be making you quite excited about things to come.
Finally, transfer your finished dried leek powder into an airtight storage container. We typically use mason jars, either half-pint or pint-sized, depending on how much we make. Repurposing used spice containers would work well too, though not all of them are totally air tight. In humid climates, the wrong container can make your leek powder get clumpy much faster.
When stored in an airtight container, homemade leek powder is good for up to a year! We have enjoyed year-old leek powder that had no obvious degradation in quality or taste, though we usually go through it much faster than that.
7) Enjoy Your Leek Powder
I’m sure you can all figure out a million wonderful ways to use your tasty, sweet, savory homemade leek powder, right? Well, just in case you need some ideas: Add it to fresh salsa, guacamole, sautéed veggies, in tomato sauce, soups, curry lentils, homemade hummus, salad dressing, egg dishes, sprinkled in with cooking rice or pasta, or added to homemade sourdough or herb sourdough pizza crust (yeah, that is as delicious as it sounds)… Leek powder is particularly amazing in potato salad and deviled eggs. The options are endless!
In all, I hope you enjoyed this easy tutorial – and feel excited to go make some homemade leek powder of your own! Don’t let those leek greens go to waste. Keep in mind that a similar process can be used to create homegrown garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric powder, chili pepper powder, and even lemon powder! Click on any of the aforementioned seasonings to check out those instructions.
As always, thanks for tuning in. I hope to see you again soon.
How to Make Dried Leek Powder
- Food Dehydrator, or Oven
- Blender, Food Processor, or other appliance for grinding
- An air-tight glass storage container, such as a mason jar with lid
- Fresh leeks (leafy green tops and/or bulbs)
- Thoroughly clean leek greens by rinsing them under water, and then set them aside on a clean towel or strainer to wick away excess moisture. When using the bulb portion of the leek, take extra care to cut it up and peel back the layers to wash away hidden dirt in the nooks and crannies.
- Cut leek greens into pieces with a knife or scissors. Slice the bulb portion into thin even slices, no more than 1/8" thick. The thinner they are cut, the faster they will dry.
- Dry leeks in a food dehydrator on 120 degrees Fahrenheit until completely dry. The pieces should snap and crack crisply in half or crumble in your hand, and no longer bend. The time it takes depends on your individual machine and thickness of the leeks, but should be done within 24 hours on average.
- To dry leeks in the oven, spread them in a thin layer on a baking pan covered with parchment paper. Bake them on the lowest temperature setting they are completely crunchy dry. It is suggested to stir and re-spread the leek pieces every 30 minutes as you go. This may take several hours.
- Once fully dried, place the leeks in a blender or food processor and pulse until a the desired powder consistency is achieved.
- Transfer the ground leek powder into an airtight container and use it within one year.