Learn two simple methods for how to roast garlic in the oven and pan-roasting over the stovetop! Easily add flavor to your dishes by transforming raw, pungent and spicy garlic cloves into a caramelized spreadable paste for a variety of uses.
Garlic is an underappreciated culinary gift. Not only does it ward off vampires, this herb, which is part of the Allium genus related to plants like onions, leeks, and chives, can instantly add a burst of flavor and aroma to any dish with just a few chopped cloves. Roasted garlic is prized for its ability to give depth and a pungent kick of flavor.
Heating garlic in a hot oven or pan mellows out the stinging bitter, raw, and sulfurous notes. Once a golden amber color appears, the garlic will soften into a buttery, savory-sweet condiment that can be used to enhance any meal. Learn how to roast garlic like a pro using either the oven or stovetop and let the heat work its magic.
METHOD #1: Roasted Garlic in the Oven
If you’re a fan of melt in your mouth, super creamy and lightly sweet garlic, use the roasting method. It’s best for making recipes like garlic mashed potatoes, cream sauces, garlic bread, garlic butter, aioli, or spread on flatbread or pizza.
Peel the skin
A paper-thin skin surrounds the bulbous cloves of garlic, and it can easily be removed by peeling the outermost layers. Doing so gives more exposure to the oven’s heat, and prevents it from burning in the foil pouch. Make sure to keep the bulbs intact at the root end, so they stay together when trimmed.
Trim the top
Trim the tops of the cloves to release some characteristic garlic flavors and allow for oil to coat the surface. About 1/4-inch down from the tip of the bulb is recommended. Use a paring knife to trim the outer cloves individually. You don’t want to cut too much of the garlic and lose all of the tasty product.
Drizzle with oil
Seasoning the garlic cloves with a small amount of high smoke point oil accelerates the cooking process. When in the wrapped up foil packets, the cloves will roast and lightly fry in the oil for a super tender and spreadable ingredient. I also like to sprinkle a little bit of salt over the tops to enhance its savory taste.
Roast in the oven
It’s easy to roast garlic as individual bulbs or as a larger batch, depending on the quantity needed. If making just one or two, I separate them into individual foil pouches, drizzle with olive oil, and place them in a muffin tin, so they stay put. For many cloves, place all the cut bulbs in a large piece of foil, wrap into a tight pouch and roast on a sheet pan.
The oven is set to 400 degrees, so it quickly begins to soften the bulbs and halts the alliinase enzymes production of sulfurous flavors.
Cook Tip: Removing Roasted Garlic Cloves
Once the garlic is done roasting, it’s time to get them out! The easiest way I found is using the tip of a paring knife to remove each clove. For cooled roasted garlic bulbs, you can use your fingers to squeeze them out of their skins.
METHOD #2: Roasted Garlic on the Stovetop
For a quick way to get roasted notes with a balanced bite of spiciness, cook whole unpeeled cloves on the stovetop in their skin. The garlic doesn’t entirely caramelize like in the oven because it’s not cooking in oil, nor is it enclosed in a foil packet that allows for it to steam and softens. The stovetop method still mellows out the sulfur aromas and becomes more tender. I like to use it in pesto sauce, hummus, and homemade gravy.
Toast the cloves
Separate the cloves and add them unpeeled in a saute pan. Cooking over medium heat and flipping them occasionally for about 15 to 20 minutes will lightly char the outside while softening the entire clove. You’ll notice that the strong garlic aroma changes to a more mellow, sweet smell over time. If you want a stronger pungent flavor, reduce the cooking time by half, about 7 to 10 minutes.
Cool and peel
I like to cool the roasted garlic cloves before attempting to peel. A little bit of time gives the flesh a chance to soften, which makes it easier to scrape away any charred parts on the surface. If you like a more smokey flavor, incorporate the cloves into the recipes as is.
Benefits of roasted garlic
- Roasting mellows out the spicy bite of raw garlic: The high heat inactivates the alliinase enzyme once the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees or higher. As the cloves roast and brown in about an hour, the result is a creamy textured, lightly caramelized flavor.
- Add depth to dishes: The buttery texture and light sweetness add another layer of flavor to recipes like sauces, soups, stews, pasta, and bread. Incorporate as little or as much as you like, for me, the more the merrier!
- Nutrition: Roasted garlic is a low-calorie flavor enhancer. There have been numerous studies conducted on the health benefits of garlic as a superfood, such as prevention of heart disease, cancer, infections, and stroke when eaten on a regular basis (Source: Oregan State University). According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, in 1 garlic clove (3 grams) provides approximately 1.76 calories, 0.19 grams of protein, 0.01 grams of fat, 0.99 grams of carbohydrates and 0.1 grams of total dietary fiber.
Garlic recipes to try
Why cut garlic smells
Garlic bulbs have little to no aroma, but once the cloves are chopped or sliced, an intense sulfurous aroma hits the nose. When the cells of the garlic are damaged, the alliinase enzyme is immediately released which reacts with a sulfur-containing amino acid called Allin. A new compound called allicin is formed, emitting spicy, pungent aromas and flavor. The good news is flavor intensifies the more it’s cut and allowed to sit. Waiting even 10 minutes before cooking will make a dish tastier. (Source: Cooks Science)
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Oven Roasted Garlic
- 1 head garlic
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt, optional, for seasoning
Pan Roasted Garlic
- 1 head garlic
Oven Roasted Garlic
- Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 400ºF (204ºC).
- Peel the white papery skin off the head of garlic, making sure to keep the cloves intact with the root.
- Cut about ¼-inch off the top of the head of garlic. If any cloves on the sides do not get cut, carefully use the knife to slice the top off.
- Place the garlic in a center of a piece of foil, large enough to completely wrap the garlic.
- Drizzle olive oil over the cut cloves and sprinkle with salt if desired.
- Tightly wrap the head of garlic in the foil.
- If roasting just one head of garlic place in a muffin pan. If roasting multiple heads of garlic in one foil packet, place on a sheet pan.
- Roast until garlic is fragrant, lightly browned in color, and tender when pierced with a fork, 40 to 60 minutes. Check garlic at 40 minutes, then every 10 minutes for doneness.
- Remove each clove with a small fork or paring knife to dig out the flesh or use your fingers to squeeze out each piece.
Pan Roasted Garlic
- Remove the garlic cloves from the root and leave the skin on.
- Add garlic cloves to a skillet, turn the heat to medium.
- Toast garlic cloves, shaking the pan occasionally until the surface is lightly charred and cloves are soft when squeezed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Cool completely before peeling.
- Use your fingers to peel off the skin. Alternatively, cut the tips off the clove and then use the spine of a small knife to scrape out the flesh.
- Store for up to 7 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Freeze for about 1 month and defrosted when ready to use.
- Multiple heads of garlic can be roasted together in one foil package.
- When oven roasting, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of oil per head of garlic.
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