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How to Use Black Garlic

Four black garlic bulbs in someone's hands

What does Black Garlic taste like and how do you use it? It’s easier than you think to add this unique flavor to your favorite recipes, from pasta to steak.

Forget everything you know about garlic. A unique aging process transforms a sharp, pungent head of raw garlic into mild, sweet (and squishy) cloves. While Black Garlic isn’t a substitute for raw garlic, it can impart rich, umami flavor into many of the same dishes as minced garlic…or just as a tasty treat.

Garlic has been popular as a culinary ingredient dating back to Ancient Egypt and is used in almost every cuisine worldwide. You can probably imagine the scent and flavor of garlic. So, let’s start with what Black Garlic is not. It’s not a specific type or variety of garlic. It’s not roasted or cooked garlic. And it’s not made with additives (or culinary magic!).

Buy Black Garlic text on purple with package of Black Garlic Bulbs to the right

 

What is Black Garlic?

Black Garlic is simply a “normal” head of garlic that has been aged or fermented. The result is a unique flavor with raisin and balsamic vinegar notes. While Black Garlic is not roasted, it does have a similarly sweet, garlicky flavor.

How Black Garlic is Made

Black Garlic is aged under very specific temperature and humidity levels over about a month. This process causes chemical reactions to occur, altering both the flavor and texture of the garlic. The Maillard Reaction, responsible for the distinctive toasty flavor of cookies and the slightly sweet flavors of seared meats, contributes to the unique taste of Black Garlic.

While you can easily find directions for making your own Black Garlic at home, most of those directions require you to keep a rice cooker or slow cooker running constantly for 2-4 weeks. Aside from being a potential fire hazard, that requires a lot of energy. Honestly, it’s easier to buy it from a reputable source.

What is So Special About Black Garlic?

Black Garlic is one-of-a-kind. The flavor of Black Garlic is unlike any other garlic. It’s sweeter than roasted garlic and has a mellower flavor. Additionally, Black Garlic has a soft, sticky texture that can be challenging to work with – which is part of the reason we created Black Garlic Salt…but more on that later.

Black Garlic Salt with baked potatoes

What Does Black Garlic Taste Like?

Its distinctive flavor is similar to the mellow taste of cooked or roasted garlic, but it also has sweet and rich notes similar to raisins and balsamic vinegar. You have to try it to fully understand the complexities and richness of Black Garlic.

Does Black Garlic Taste Burnt?

No. While it has rich, toasty, umami notes that are sometimes associated with lightly burned foods (think of a seared steak), the specific temperature controls employed when aging Black Garlic prevents the garlic from burning. The taste is slightly sweet, not the acrid flavor associated with burnt foods.

How To Store Black Garlic

Because Black Garlic retains some of its natural moisture (it’s not fully dried like Garlic Powder or Granulated Garlic is), we package it with a silicone dioxide packet. This reduces moisture build-up, which will prevent molding.

Should Black Garlic Be Refrigerated After Opening?

Because refrigerators have built-in temperature and humidity controls, storing Black Garlic in the fridge can reduce the likelihood of molding and prolong the life of your Black Garlic. That said, it doesn’t have to be refrigerated – particularly if you plan on using it quickly.

How To Use Black Garlic

Black Garlic is not a substitute for raw garlic. It is more difficult to mince and can’t be sautéed in the same way as raw garlic. That said, its sweet and rich flavor can be used to add a unique flavor with subtle garlic notes to many dishes. Black Garlic can also be used side by side with garlic (or Garlic Powder or Granulated Garlic) to add depth and complexity to various dishes.

There are some tricks you can employ to make it easier to use Black Garlic. When chopping it, lightly oil your knife first (and re-oil as needed). That will help prevent the Black Garlic from sticking to your knife. If you want to blend it into a dip, sauce, or marinade, make sure you’re mixing it with liquid – don’t just throw your Black Garlic in the food processor first, as you might with raw garlic.

To make it even easier to impart a hint of Black Garlic flavor in any dish, we created Black Garlic Salt. This finishing salt blends two types of salt, dried Black Garlic, garlic, and Korean chile flakes.

Do You Peel Black Garlic?

Yes. Just like with raw garlic, the skin surrounding the garlic cloves isn’t something you want to eat. The skin is easily distinguished by its papery quality and is easy to remove.

How To Eat Black Garlic

Unlike raw garlic, Black Garlic is surprisingly delicious on its own. You can eat it as a treat or add the whole cloves of Black Garlic to salads and other dishes. You can also slice or mince the cloves and add them to sautéed spinach or rice pilaf.

How To Use Black Garlic Salt

Black Garlic Salt is incredibly easy to use. Try it as a replacement for Garlic Salt to impart a more complex flavor. Black Garlic Salt is a great way to boost the flavor of vegetable dishes, like Black Garlic Butternut Gratin, or dips and sauces, like Black Garlic Salted Salsa Verde or aioli. Sprinkle it on meats or vegetables before grilling or cooking. Use it as a finishing salt on everything from eggs to soup.

Black Garlic Salt with other ingredients and miso soup

What Foods Do You Use Black Garlic In?

  • Dips, Sauces, Marinades
  • Salad Dressing & Condiments
  • Meats (including lamb, beef, chicken, and seafood)
  • Vegetable dishes and gratins
  • You can even try it in desserts!

How To Use Black Garlic In Recipes

Most recipes that call for Black Garlic will tell you to chop it or blend it. Since Black Garlic is slightly sticky, a helpful tip is to lightly oil your knife before chopping it. When blending it, we suggest combining it with liquid ingredients first to ensure a smooth consistency (like in this recipe for Black Garlic Chocolate Donuts). If you don’t want to blend it, you can mash it with a fork (again, we suggest applying a light coat of oil on your fork first) since it’s already pretty soft.

How To Use Black Garlic In Pasta

Black Garlic is a fantastic way to add depth of flavor to all types of pasta sauces. Similar to tomatoes, Black Garlic has a sweet, savory taste and these two umami ingredients pair very well. Simply chop the cloves of this aged garlic and add them to any pasta sauce. Don't stop at red sauce though, you can also add chopped Black Garlic to creamy sauces too, like this pappardelle recipe.

Black Garlic Salt is an even easier way to add this signature flavor to your dishes. Try using unsalted butter in your pasta and then add a sprinkle of Black Garlic Salt. If you'd prefer a recipe, try our Black Garlic Shrimp Scampi.

How To Use Black Garlic With Steak

There are two easy ways to use Black Garlic with steak. The first is to use Black Garlic Salt to season your steak before cooking. Just sprinkle on in place of the salt that you would normally use.

You can also use Black Garlic bulbs to create a marinade or smash them and rub them on your steak or roast before cooking. Alternatively, make a compound butter (just mix the mashed Black Garlic with butter) and top your steak & potatoes. 

Don’t stop at steak though, try Black Garlic Chicken or stir-fry tofu in black garlic sauce.

More Black Garlic Recipes

Here are a few other favorites we haven't mentioned yet.

  • Black Garlic Dip - If you like onion dip, you should try this recipe. The addition of shallots bring out the garlicky flavor, while walnuts highlight the subtle nuttiness of Black Garlic.
  • Black Garlic Rangoon - A simple but delicious cheese wonton, Bill says that, "This combination is fabulous whether you spread a little on toasted points or wrap it in wontons as the recipe calls for. Just to be clear, I love it!"
  • Black Garlic Meatballs - Black garlic adds a natural sweetness that complements the other flavors in these easy meatballs. Serve them as a party snack or appetizer, or enjoy them with pasta and sauce for lunch or dinner.
  • Brussels & Black Garlic Gratin - This dish is sophisticated enough for guests and easy enough for a weeknight side. Cathy shares, “Not only is it an interesting twist on a gratin, but the black garlic has converted some non-garlic lovers in our group. I just know I have to make a double dish so I have a few leftovers.”
  • Black Garlic Flatbread with Whipped Ricotta - This can be an appetizer/snack or a lunch/dinner. Take it from Katelyn, "This recipe hit all the notes - sweet, savory, and creamy! The black garlic salt added a nice punch of flavor with the honey, ricotta, and shallots!"

 Black Garlic Flatbread with Whipped Ricotta

Shop Garlic

How do you use Black Garlic or Black Garlic Salt? Tell us in the comments below or tag us with your culinary creations on Instagram (@savoryspiceshop). Go Behind the Seasoning: Garlic - Uses, Benefits & Conversions to learn more.

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Comments

Michelle Marano - October 2, 2023

Your explanations, suggestions, and recipes are all written in excellent grammatical English. The english written form is clear and concise. Thank you for sharing all this important valuable information. Bon Appétit!

Ajay - September 15, 2023

Great post! I found your insights really valuable and thought-provoking.

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