Roasted Garlic is the slightly sweet, deeply-flavored, creamy and spreadable upgrade to your typical minced garlic. Learn how to easily roast entire heads in the oven, and then eat the cloves whole (seriously!), spread them on crostini, or mix them into your favorite weeknight dinner for a major boost of flavor.
What is Roasted Garlic? (And The Science Behind It.)
Imagine all of the garlicky goodness with none of the bite. That's what you get with roasted garlic-- no sharp, harsh flavors or crunchy chunks; just smooth, buttery, slightly nutty, umami-loaded golden nuggets that literally melt in your mouth.
But why is that?
Well, you've probably noticed that the burning sensation you get when eating raw garlic is significantly mellowed if you cook it. That's because the burning, sharp flavor you're tasting is actually from sulfur compounds that are created when you cut or chew garlic and the plant cells break down. Yes, sulfur like in volcanos, or matches, or rotten eggs. But those same sulfur compounds don't stand up very well to heat, so they start to vaporize as they're cooked.
The less you cut the garlic before cooking, the less sulfur compounds there are that need to be tamed. That means that if you cut garlic more finely, it's going to retain a sharper flavor after cooking, whereas if you put in bigger chunks, it will be milder. And if you don't chop the garlic, and instead roast the whole heads? Well, then there's none of those pesky sulfur compounds to deal with, so you just wind up with a mellow caramelized garlic flavor.
How to Roast Garlic
Making roasted garlic is as easy as 1-2-3:
- Expose the tops of the cloves. To have the perfect roasted garlic, you want the oil to be able to drip down between the cloves. So what you'll want to do is remove any excessive amounts of papery skin around the garlic bulb, and then slice off the very top of the head to reveal the cloves.
- Oil 'em up. You don't need any special dishes for this one, just break out the aluminum foil. Place the bulbs on top of a large piece of foil, drizzle them with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then wrap the foil fully around the garlic to create a sealed packet.
- It's roasting time. Put the garlic pack in the oven at 400 degrees. Roast for about 45-55 minutes, or until the cloves are golden brown. The exact timing will depend on the size of the garlic bulbs, and how many heads of garlic you roast at once.
- Squeeze and serve. Let the garlic cool, and then squeeze the roasted cloves out of their skin. Enjoy the roasted garlic immediately or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. See below for serving ideas!
Tip: Get garlic-infused oil as a bonus with Garlic Confit.
If you want the flavor and spreadability of roasted garlic and some delicious garlic oil to serve with bread, drizzle over vegetables, use in a vinaigrette, or toss with roasted potatoes, consider making garlic confit.
It takes more time to make, since the garlic is slow-cooked and has to be peeled in advance, but the added bonus of garlic oil makes it all worth it. Just like with roasted garlic, the cloves in garlic confit can be used in about a million ways (and trust me, you'll want to do all of them).
Ways to Use Your Roasted Garlic
No one will judge you if you want to eat the caramelized cloves straight from the paper-- I certainly have popped some out from the garlic head and immediately popped 'em into my mouth. But my favorite ways to use roasted garlic involve a few other ingredients. Here's some inspiration:
- Spread on bread. This is the simplest way to serve that doesn't involve just eating the garlic straight. Smash a clove onto some fresh crusty bread, or better yet, bruschetta or crostini and go to town.
- Mix into dips. Add roasted garlic to mayo or aioli for a delicious, easy mixture for dunking your fries or potato wedges. Or mix with sour cream, a bit of vinegar, mayonnaise, and herbs for a delicious chip dip!
- Make amazing mashed potatoes. If you want to take your mashed potatoes to the next level, mix in roasted garlic (which conveniently mashes easily, too!)
- Get saucy. Your alfredo sauce will never be better than when you stir in a generous amount of roasted garlic. The same goes for salad dressings and gravies!
- Garlic butter everything. Combine the roasted garlic and softened butter and spread it on everything imaginable. Steak, roasted vegetables, grilled cheeses, burger buns, corn on the cob... the list goes on!
- Whole garlic heads
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper, if desired
- Preheat and prep: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Remove any loose outer layers of paper from the garlic, leaving the bulb intact. Using a sharp knife, cut off the top of each garlic head, exposing the tops of the cloves.
- Foil and drizzle: Place the garlic head (or heads) on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over the exposed cloves, using about 2 teaspoons' worth per head of garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired, and then wrap the foil over the garlic to fully enclose in a sealed packet.
- Bake until golden: Roast the garlic for 45-55 minutes, or until the cloves are soft and golden brown. The roasting time may vary slightly on your oven and the size of your bulbs, or how many you're roasting at once. If they look pale when you open the foil, just pop them back in for 5 minutes more at a time.
- Squeeze and serve. When the garlic is ready, remove the foil packet from the oven and open to let steam escape. Allow to cool until you can safely handle the garlic, and squeeze the bottoms of the garlic bulbs to release the softened cloves. Spread on bread or mix into dips, sauces, or dressings!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes