If you’ve never had Roasted Garlic before, you’re in for a treat! Roasting garlic in the oven gives hard, bitter garlic cloves a much milder flavor and turns it into smooth, buttery, sweet nuggets of goodness that kick the flavor of any dish up a notch. This roasted garlic spread is a simple appetizer to make and can be used in a number of ways, such as a garlic paste, on garlic bread, or even spread atop a simple piece of toast.
Years ago we used to go to this restaurant in Chicago that served a side of roasted garlic spread with the french bread as an appetizer before each meal. It was my first exposure to this delicious app and from then on I was hooked. Little did I know how easy it was to make roasted garlic at home, and how versatile the dish is. If you're a garlic lover, beware - this recipe is life-changing!
We use garlic all the time at our house. It’s a staple we add to most of our soups, salad dressings, pasta – pretty much everything! Garlic is incredibly good for you too. Among other things, garlic is great for helping with a cold and can give your immune system a serious boost. In fact, any time we’re feeling a bit under the weather, we chop up a bunch of raw garlic cloves and throw them atop a cracker with some tomato paste. It’s a strong bite, but you can pretty much feel it working right away.
While raw regular garlic can be quite overpowering, roasting garlic in the oven completely mellows out that bitter taste and makes for a delicious addition to almost any savory recipe, or even a great app all on its lonesome. We love spreading this on crusty bread or scooping up spoonfuls with a good hearty cracker. It's a great easy recipe for company (or any garlic fan).
To make roasted elephant garlic, you need just a few basic things:
- Whole garlic bulbs (regular or elephant garlic)
- Oil. I love using olive oil, but if you want something more neutral tasting try avocado oil or grapeseed oil.
- Small baking dish or pan.
How To Roast Elephant Garlic In The Oven
Roasting garlic in the oven is really very simple. And even if you feel like you're not great in the kitchen, this little trick will make people think that you are because 1. Your house will smell amazing while it’s baking, and 2. It tastes incredibly delicious.
So, how do you roast garlic in the oven?
- Preheat the oven. Start by preheating your oven to about 400 degrees.
- Next, prepare your garlic. I typically roast a whole head of elephant garlic in the oven at once. Start by slicing off the top of the head and set it aside. You want to be able to see the exposed cloves for two reasons. First, so that the cloves roast evenly so check around the garlic to make sure there are no small ones hiding out on the sides. If so, just use your knife to chop the tips off those too.
We'll get to the second reason to ensure ultimate clove exposure in just a second.
- Remove the papery skin. Remove the outer skin of the garlic as much as you can. This just makes it a bit easier for the garlic to roast and easier for you to squeeze the cloves out once they're finished. (Don’t stress about this being perfect - it’s pretty hard to mess up.)
- Make a foil pouch. Take your garlic heads (including the tops you just cut off – there are sneaky little pieces of garlic hiding out in there!) and place them cut side up on small piece of foil. Make a little pouch with your foil by pulling up the sides.
(You can also use a garlic roaster if you’re lucky enough to have one. If not, don’t sweat it. I used one for years until it broke and then started using the aluminum foil method I’m describing here. The garlic turns out just the same.)
- Add olive oil. Pour olive oil over the top of the exposed cloves (I usually use about 1 tablespoon per garlic head), making sure the oil seeps down into all the little crevices of the garlic head. This is the second reason that we need the top of the cloves exposed. The oil will coat each one and this will help to caramelize every inch of garlic while it’s roasting.
- Roast the garlic. Wrap the foil packet up tight and place it in a small baking dish or rimmed baking sheet. Fill the dish with about 1 inch of water so that it surrounds your foil pouch. Place the dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes.
- Squeeze the garlic cloves from the head. When your garlic is fully roasted, remove it from the oven and let it sit to cool for a bit. Once you’re able to handle it without burning your fingers off (about 10-15 minutes), squeeze out each of the cloves into a small bowl. (Don’t forget about those little tips that were on the top of the head you chopped off!). This gets a bit messy so keep some paper towels handy.
One of our favorite ways to eat this is by mashing up the cloves with a little bit of olive oil Then give it a good shower of shredded or grated parmesan cheese and a few twists of kosher salt and black pepper, and a touch of crushed red pepper. Then, PUT THE MASHED GARLIC ON EVERYTHING.
- Your baking time may vary depending on the type of garlic you use, the size of the bulb you use, and the number of garlic heads you’re roasting. Larger elephant heads like this require a bit more time than regular garlic bulbs. I usually check my garlic after about 45 minutes, but if it isn’t done, you can let it keep roasting and check on it in five-minute intervals until it's finished.
- You’ll know your garlic is done because it will turn a soft golden brown color and will be easy to pierce with a sharp knife. (I will mention that I have had instances in the past where my garlic has not turned brown during the roasting process, but still is soft and tastes delicious, so use the knife test as your main indicator that it’s done, and don’t fret if your garlic is still white when you check it.)
- Remove the garlic from its paper coating by squeezing the head from the bottom. It's a bit of a trick but once you get the feel for it it's simple to do.
If you're using garlic to flavor other things like soups or salad dressings, you can mash it and leave as is. But if you're using it for a dip, there are some delicious add ins you can experiment with:
- Salt and black pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Grated Parmesan cheese
Frequently Asked Questions
When shopping for a whole garlic bulb in grocery stores, look for fresh garlic with no soft spots or green sprouts sticking up out of the top of the garlic bulb. Make sure you don't use old garlic for this recipe too, which tends to become dry and bitter tasting.
There are a few different types of garlic to choose from. Hardneck garlic is generally harder to find because it doesn't store as well as softneck garlic, however, the taste of a hardneck garlic variety is usually considered to be a bit better and very reflective of the region it's grown in. Softneck garlic is commonly found in grocery stores given its longer shelf life. Softneck garlic is still delicious and has a mild flavor that is actually great for roasting.
I love using olive oil when roasting garlic but if you want more of the garlic taste to shine through choose a more neutral-tasting oil like avocado or grapeseed oil.
You can store roasted garlic in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Simply peel the papery skins from the roasted cloves, then place the individual cloves in an airtight jar or ziplock bag to use when you're ready.
You can! You can mash the roasted garlic cloves into a paste, then freeze it in a silicone ice cube mold. Once it's set, remove the garlic cubes from the mold and store them in a ziploc bag in the freezer for up to 6 months. This makes them super easy to use since you can just pull out what you need when you need it.
I think roasted garlic is far easier than peeling fresh garlic. Once your garlic has finished roasting, grab the whole bulb at the root end and squeeze the bulb until all the roasted garlic cloves pop out. Be sure to let the garlic come to room temperature once it's out of the hot oven before squeezing the cloves out - it will be very hot to the touch. A good tip, if you're in a hurry and just can't wait, is to use a paper towel when squeezing the cloves out so that your hands don't have direct contact with the hot garlic bulb.
The one downside to using elephant garlic for roasting is that it can take a little longer to roast the entire bulb of garlic. To make this process take less time, you can either use regular-sized heads of garlic, or you can remove the whole cloves from the head, peel them, and roast them in a ramekin covered with tin foil for about 15 minutes.
How To Use Roasted Garlic
There are lots of ways to use roasted garlic.
- Add it to a salad dressing to give your salads a mild garlic flavor
- Use it in a pasta dish
- Garlic mashed potatoes (of course!)
- Add it to soups
- Use it in hummus
- Put it on top of a chunk of meat (pork or steak are great!)
- As a dipping sauce for bread
- Add it to some butter to make a delicious garlic butter
Our favorite way to eat it is to spread a thin layer of it on top of some thick, crusty hunks of bread. We serve it as an appetizer, just like we used to have it back in Chicago. Just mash up the roasted garlic cloves in a bowl, add a few more tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a dash of salt and pepper, and a generous amount of grated Parmesan cheese and you’re ready to go.
This is such a perfect app to make when you’re short on time. (Like when you have an hour before people are about to arrive and realize that – oh shit! - you still have to take a shower!) Just throw it in the oven and forget about it for 45 minutes. Then mash it up, add some bread and it’s pretty much ready to go! And if you have friends coming over, the best part is it will make your house smell amazing and everyone will think you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day. Which of course you should say you have, as you smile smugly to yourself and think what a divine kitchen goddess you are.
Try this Roasted Elephant Garlic Recipe and let me know what you think by sharing a comment below! And don't forget to me on Instagram!
More Great Appetizers!
- Baked Pasta Nests With Meatballs
- Deviled Eggs With Bacon And Jalapeno
- Chunky Guacamole Recipe
- Homemade Pita Bread Recipe
- Pear And Cheddar Hand Pies
How To Make Easy Roasted Elephant Garlic In The Oven
- 2-3 heads of fresh garlic (regular sized or elephant garlic)
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- dash of salt and pepper
- grated parmesan cheese to taste
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare your garlic by slicing the top of the head off, and removing the outermost layer of skin. For your garlic to roast evenly (and to make it easier to remove the cloves), make sure each clove is exposed at the tip. This may mean you have to check around the sides once you’ve removed the top of the head and make sure you slice off any unexposed cloves.
- Place the garlic (the heads too!) on a small square of tin foil and bring the sides of the foil up to form a little bowl/pouch. Make sure your garlic is facing cut side up.
- Pour the oil over the garlic heads, making sure to let it really drip into all the crevices between the cloves.
- Wrap the foil around the garlic heads and put it into a small baking dish or pan, filled with about ½ inch of water.
- Place your pan in the oven and roast the garlic for about 40-45 minutes. Check for doneness by piercing a clove with a sharp knife – it should easily cut through it. If not, roast for an additional 15-20 minutes, checking every five minutes to ensure the garlic doesn’t burn.
- When garlic is finished roasting, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes until it’s easy to handle.
- Once the garlic has cooled, use your hands to squeeze the garlic head and pop out each individual clove into a small bowl.
- Use the garlic as is, or make a delicious garlic spread by mashing all the garlic in the bowl, adding an additional glug of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and parmesan.
- Enjoy with bread, on roasted or braised meats, in soups, pastas or salad dressings.
- Cooking times will vary depending on how large your garlic bulb is. Check it at 45 minutes and if it still needs some time, continue roasting, checking it at 5 minute intervals until it's done.
- Freeze by mashing the garlic and freezing it in silicon ice cube trays. Once frozen, remove the garlic cubes and freeze in a ziplock bag for up to 6 months.
- Store unused roasted garlic by putting the whole cloves into an airtight container for up to five days.