Most people know that cooking with garlic adds an unbeatable flavor to your dishes. We love to throw it into soups, sauces, salad dressings, stir-fries, and more. It’s available everywhere, it’s inexpensive, it doesn’t take up much room, and it has a long shelf life. In addition to all that, it also has quite a few astounding health benefits that will keep you reaching for those little white bulbs. According to NutritionFacts.org, garlic has been found to lower blood pressure, regulate cholesterol levels, boost your immune system, and improve artery function. Garlic may even prevent occurrences of the common cold.
If you have never tried roasting garlic, you are missing out on one of the most magical ways to enjoy this delicious (if pungent) allium. The flavor transforms from sharp and strong to sweet, nutty, and caramelized. Roasted garlic becomes soft and creamy as it roasts, and can be added to things like pesto, hummus, dressings, soups, mashed potatoes, and it makes killer garlic bread.
So, garlic, how do I roast thee? Let me count the ways. Read on as we weigh in on six popular methods of making this superstar ingredient.
Roasting garlic in the oven with foil
One of the most common ways to roast garlic is also one of the simplest ways. The first thing you want to do is get your oven preheated to 400 F. While that is heating, you can prep the garlic. Garlic bulbs have 2 ends: a root end and a pointy end. When roasting an entire bulb of garlic, you want to cut off about ¼ to ½-inch of the pointy end. The root end is what is holding all of our special little cloves together.
Try using a serrated bread knife when cutting the garlic bulb; it helps you get a straight cut with ease. If you don’t have one of these, a sharp chef’s knife will work. Once cut, brush the exposed garlic cloves with avocado or olive oil and sprinkle on a little salt. Then wrap up the bulb in aluminum foil, leaving a little open space at the top to allow steam to gather. Put your wrapped bulb directly on the oven rack and set a timer for 30 minutes. Check it at this point to make sure it is golden brown and the cloves are soft. Let the garlic cool and squeeze the bulb near the root to release all of the roasted garlic cloves. Your soft, buttery garlic cloves are ready to enjoy.
This method is definitely team "easy clean-up," with only a little piece of foil to discard of. You can even cook other dishes in your oven since you are just using a tiny portion of one rack. That said, some people may have qualms about using aluminum foil in cooking, whether for dietary or waste management reasons.
Roasting garlic with muffin tins
The next method is similar to the first, but we are swapping out the foil for muffin tins. This method of roasting garlic eliminates the need to use aluminum foil. All of the steps in the first method will be repeated but instead of wrapping it in foil, you can place the garlic bulb inside a muffin tin and simply cover it with another muffin tin (like a lid) and roast in the oven. The time and temperature will be the same. The result is soft, spreadable cloves very similar to the foil method. Of course, if you don’t own 2 muffin tins this method might not be for you, and you will also have some additional cleaning to do (specifically, some garlic-scented muffin tins).
Roasting garlic in an air fryer
With air fryers being all the rage, we wanted to test out this method to see if this handy countertop appliance would pass the test. For this method, once the garlic bulb is prepped, (like we did in the previous methods), set it in your air fryer basket and cover it with a small, oven-safe ramekin. Set the air fryer temperature to 350 F and cook for 40 minutes. This method works pretty well, but the bulbs come out a little crispier and are not quite as spreadable as with the other methods. For some things, like adding roasted garlic to a blended sauce, this method works great, and you do get the added benefit of not having to heat up the oven — something we strive for in the heat of summer. Also, time is on your side in this method, as there is no waiting around for preheating like the oven methods.
Roasting garlic in a slow cooker
Everyone loves a good slow cooker recipe, and who would have thought it would work for roasting garlic? This is actually our favorite method, and perhaps the most convenient, since it is completely hands-off and you can leave the house. For this method, once your bulb has been prepped (same as previous methods), wrap it loosely in foil and place it in the slow cooker. Turn the knob to low heat and cook for 5 hours. When you are done,, the cloves become very soft and release from the bulb very easily. In this method, the garlic spreads like butter, making it awesome on baguette slices or a slice of sourdough. The downside to this method is that you will be waiting around most of the day for the delicious, creamy cloves to be ready. But if you plan ahead, you will be rewarded.
Roasting loose garlic cloves in the oven
Roasting the whole garlic bulb isn’t the only way to roast garlic; it actually can also be done with loose cloves. Many grocery stores carry bags and tubs of already peeled garlic, so this method is especially convenient if you tend to go for those. You don’t end up with spreadable roasted garlic that oozes out of the bulb, but it is a really good choice when you want to add roasted cloves to a soup, stew, or sauce. In this method, we placed about 40 cloves into a baking dish with ½ cup of avocado oil (you want an oil with a high smoke point for this) and roasted it all for 30 minutes in a 400-degree oven. The cloves come out soft on the inside, but with a crispy shell on the outside. The beauty of this method is that you get more than just the cloves: You also have some garlic-infused oil to use in other dishes. Make sure to put that in a small jar with a lid for later. You will have some cleaning to do with this method, and you need to use extra caution when pulling out the baking tray, as the oil will be very hot.
Roasting loose garlic cloves on the stove
This method is similar to the previous but instead of putting the cloves in the oven, you’ll simmer them on the stove for about 20 minutes on medium heat in ½ cup of oil. This method yields individual cloves that are softer and gushier than the oven method. The cloves also separate from the outer shell that forms more easily, making it a better choice for spreading. Be warned, though: This is the most hands-on approach, as you have to man the stove and keep a watchful eye. The cloves can burn easily on the stove, which will leave you with a bitter final result.
Our verdict? If you have the time (and the equipment), slow cooker roasted garlic is the way to go. As a backup, the simple foil method comes in as a strong second. Hey, it’s a classic for a reason.