Sprouted Garlic – Is it Safe to Eat?


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Garlic is a workhorse in the kitchen as it’s used in endless recipes, but sometimes a small green sprout emerges from the center of a clove. Learn why this happens, if it’s safe to eat, and what to do next.

Is Sprouted Garlic Safe to Eat

You’re preparing all the ingredients for your recipe, and you grab a few cloves of garlic. You begin to remove the papery skin, then everything comes to a screeching halt. There’s something green hiding inside when it’s cut open or even worse, shooting straight out of the clove that can’t be ignored.

Although the pesky sprouted cloves are annoying to deal with, taking a minute or two longer to remove is worth the extra effort for the taste of the final product. Let’s explore why these appear, and how to swiftly remove them so you can keep cooking.

Are garlic sprouts safe to eat?

Yes, the good news is that these bright green shoots are safe to eat, but there are trade-offs. The sprouts have a stronger bitter flavor that can be more noticeable in delicate foods like aioli, mayonnaise or salad dressing.

If garlic is the star of the dish and is going to be cooked, you may be able to get away with a little bit of the green minced up for things like stir-fries or hearty braises. The bitter notes are best balanced with something sweet, so if the dish has both of those flavors, it’s less intrusive to add it in.

peeling the green sprouts pieces out of a garlic clove

An easy way to remove the green sprout

Simply cut the garlic in half lengthwise and then use your finger to pull out the green sprout. Discard, then proceed with slicing, chopping, or mincing the garlic.

Why is my garlic sprouting?

Most garlic sold at grocery stores is softneck garlic or Allium sativum which have the most robust shelf life. But as the bulbs sit and age, sprouts can appear if not properly stored. A little too much light, humidity, and heat can get those garlic bulbs sprouting.

peeling open a garlic clove to reveal a green sprout inside

Storing garlic

Storing garlic in a cool dry area like a pantry in your kitchen reduces the chances of sprouting. Around 60 to 65ºF (15 to 18ºC) in a mesh bag, paper bag, or breathable basket is ideal. This can extend the usability to several months!

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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7 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. susan gallo says

    I always have a problem with garlic drying out when left on the counter. I have bought the garlic holders and used them but still l they dry out, How long can you store garlic in oil in a glass jar. I love anything to do with garlic and love this website. Thank you

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m so glad that you are enjoying the website! I always store garlic bulbs in my cool and dry pantry in a basket that has circulation. You can store garlic in oil for up to 1 week, or refrigerate for 2 weeks.