Sautéeing garlic is one of the best ways to build a savory foundation for a dish, but I would argue the best trick up garlic’s sleeve takes a little more coaxing.
That’s right—roasted garlic is where it’s at.
True story: when I was little, I thought all garlic was like roasted garlic by default. My Ya-ya (grandmother) kept a little repurposed pimento jar full of roasted garlic cloves in the fridge at all times, and used it all throughout the week, every week.
Fast forward to today, I have a tiny pimento jar of roasted garlic in my fridge too.
Roasted garlic is more like a bear hug than a punch. Though roasting softens the sharper qualities of garlic, it somehow intensifies the flavor. It’s heavy and insistent, but not jarring.
Roasting brings out its sweetness in garlic by breaking down long chains of fructose, garlic’s choice of energy storage. As the garlic browns, those sugars provide a caramel flavor. meanwhile, you’re softening the sulfurous zing garlic is known for.
What you’re left with is a pod packed with soft, rich, nutty, caramelly, slightly meaty flavor that leaves a totally different impression than the minced, sautéed iteration.
Another perk of roasted garlic is the texture itself. First—and not to be minimized—roasted garlic is sooo easy to peel. Second, the cloves can be easily smashed into a paste that lends sauces and other mixtures a savory-sweet kick, without compromising texture. You can even use whole cloves as a garnish, as they are soft, smooth and much less offensive then their raw counterparts.
Okay, now hear me out. Garlic is SO easy to roast. Read this through and I think you’ll realize that. The recipe is a little long, but only because I want everything to be clear as possible. First, some tips!
How to roast garlic in an oven
Giving away the milk for free, I know. The gist of it is to cut off the top and remove any extra paper, drench it in olive oil, and roast it until it’s soft and creamy. See the recipe at the bottom for detailed instructions.
What to use roasted garlic for
So what can you use this magical ingredient for? Here are some of my faves:
- Use it to add extra layers of flavor to chili.
- Rub meats with it before (or after!) cooking.
- Mix with softened butter to make the best garlic bread of your life.
- Use roasted garlic paste in sauces.
- Toss pasta with garlic paste and cream.
- Spread some on toast (it’s different!)
- Work a little roasted garlic paste into your hamburger or meatball mix.
- Use it as a condiment on a sandwich.