How to make garlic oil

How to make garlic oil

An intense and often dominating flavour, garlic becomes soft, sweet and much more rounded once roasted or slow-cooked. The same applies to garlic-infused oil – it’s a great way to add a drizzle of garlic's more subtle flavours to your favourite dishes.

What can you do with garlic oil?

Once you begin using this punchy, fragrant oil, you will want to add it to everything savoury – it’s incredibly versatile.

It’s a great base for salad dressings: use it in place of the garlic clove and olive oil in this classic Niçoise salad; in pesto in this breaded halloumi and courgette salad; or shake up a honey, Dijon mustard and lemon dressing to pour over quinoa, kale, pomegranate and asparagus salad. It also works excellently with tahini and a squeeze of citrus in this grilled vegetable salad and this cold noodle salad.

Quinoa, kale, pomegranate and asparagus salad (Image: British Asparagus/loveFOOD)British Asparagus/loveFOOD

Lift pasta sauces with a small glug of garlic oil. Try it in creamy mushroom spaghetticlassic marinara and meatballs; the spicy tomato and pancetta sauce known as amatriciana; or a simple roasted tomato and chilli pasta.

Use it in bold, quick marinades to flavour seafood such as prawns and sardines, as well as chicken and steak. You can use it on vegetables and meat substitutes like tofu.

READ MORE: What are capers and how do you use them?

Splash a little garlic oil into stews before serving to add richness and give flavour a lift. It works particularly well with smoky chicken and black bean and spicy prawns and tomato. Don’t even think about serving smooth and creamy cauliflower soup, mushroom soup, cannellini bean soup, chunky fish soup or a spicy Korean seafood soup without a drizzle on top.

Mushroom soup (Image: Waitrose & Partners/loveFOOD)Waitrose & Partners/loveFOOD

It’s fantastic with eggs of all sorts – swirl some over shakshuka or stir into scrambled eggs with lots of black pepper and a little Parmesan.

It makes gorgeous garlicky mayo (use a blend of garlic oil and regular olive oil) and is just made for hummus. A few big glugs of garlic oil and a couple of soft, gooey confit cloves beats adding raw garlic any day.

Garlic oil also makes unbeatable focaccia. Try this recipe and use a mixture of garlic oil and olive oil.

How to make garlic oil

To make garlic oil, add peeled garlic cloves into a pot of oil and heat gently until the flavour has infused. The reason it’s heated is to kill a bacteria that lives in the soil and causes botulism.

For a light, sweet and clean oil, keep the heat low and avoid colour on the garlic. If you want to make something stronger and more complex, turn the temperature up a tiny bit to introduce some colour.

See the ingredients and step-by-step instructions below.

READ MORE: Make your own chilli oil

Can you add other herbs?

You can add any woody herbs – rosemary, thyme and oregano all work well. Dried chillies and peppercorns can be used for heat, and lemon peel adds a little zestiness (just be careful to add the peel rather than the bitter pith).

A word of warning on additions: the more flavours you add, the less versatile the finished oil will be.

Rosemary, garlic and white peppercorns (Image: Sea Wave/Shutterstock)Sea Wave/Shutterstock

What about wild garlic?

Wild garlic needs to be treated in a slightly different way, and can be made into an oil with a milder, fresher flavour.

To make wild garlic oil, wash the leaves, blanch in boiling water for one minute, drain and plunge into a bath of iced water. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can, then blend with oil and pass through a fine sieve. Once made, use within a few days. It's perfect for brightening up fish dishes or a potato salad.

READ MORE: What are anchovies and how do you use them?

What oil should I use?

Don’t use anything too fancy. A reasonably cheap, mild olive oil works well, or go for rapeseed oil (canola oil) if you want something with a higher smoke point.

A dish of olive oil (Image: DUSAN ZIDAR/Shutterstock)DUSAN ZIDAR/Shutterstock

How should garlic oil be stored?

Store your garlic oil in a sterilised glass bottle or jar. Use anything plastic and you may find it hard to get rid of the garlicky smell afterwards.

Homemade garlic oil is best kept in the fridge and used within a few weeks. You can leave the deliciously soft garlic cloves in the oil. They’re great for mashing into potatoes or onto hot toast.

Lead image: HandmadePictures/Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 250 ml oil
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp crushed black peppercorns (optional)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano (optional)
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 8.8 fl oz oil
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp crushed black peppercorns (optional)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano (optional)
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 1.1 cups oil
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp crushed black peppercorns (optional)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme or oregano (optional)

Details

  • Cuisine: British
  • Recipe Type: Oil
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 20 mins
  • Cooking Time: 15 mins
  • Serves: 10

Step-by-step

  1. First, sterilise a glass bottle or jar. An easy way to do this is to simmer both the lid and bottle in clean boiling water for 5 minutes, then dry in the oven at 120°C/250°F/gas mark 1 for around 10 minutes (if using a Kilner jar, don't oven-dry the rubber seal).
  2. Separate and peel the garlic cloves, discarding all of the skins and papery debris. Give the peeled cloves a little sniff and discard any that smell stale.
  3. Pour the oil into a small saucepan and add the peeled garlic cloves. Place over your lowest heat, ideally on a heat diffuser. You want to gently warm the oil, creating nothing but a slow, gentle bubble.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and slightly translucent. If you’d like a more robust, roasted flavour, nudge the heat up for a couple of minutes so the garlic develops some colour.
  5. Allow to cool then transfer to a sterilised bottle or jar, store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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