How to Roast Garlic


Garlic is a wonderous thing.  Spicy & flavorful, when roasted garlic becomes sweet & smoky, like candy that’s good for you.  Mashed on bread, tossed in pasta, as a pizza topping or tossed into any number of soups or stews, I can always think of a way to use roasted garlic.

Since there are only two of us eating in this house (well, outside of the friends who visit often), I don’t often want to roast 6 or 8 heads at once.  It seems a waste to fire up the oven to 400 degrees in order to roast one or two heads of garlic (yes, I know, I should really have a toaster oven), so I find sneaky ways to roast garlic while something else is cooking, or in a hot oven that is cooling off, or even over the coals of a campfire.  See ideas for energy-efficient roasted garlic in “Options” below.  Happy roasting!


Roasted Garlic


  • 1 or more heads of garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil OR 2 tbsp butter per head


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Remove outer papery skin layers from the head of garlic, while keeping the head intact and keeping peel on the cloves.
  3. With a sharp knife, slice the top 1/4-inch off of the head of garlic, exposing each clove.
  4. In a small, oven-safe bowl, pie pan or saucepan, place a pat of butter or a dollop of olive oil.
  5. Spread butter (1/8-inch thick), or drizzle olive oil, over the exposed cloves and place the heads in the bowl or pan.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  6. Roast for 45-60 minutes, or until cloves have browned and are soft to the touch.
  7. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and then either squeeze the roasted cloves out by pinching the bottom of the head of garlic, or pick individual cloves out with a small fork or your fingernails.
  8. Enjoy whole, mashed, pureed, in soup, stew, or sauce (in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse…).


  1. I will often roast one or two small heads of garlic, in a small, oven-safe bowl, while I am roasting something else; pork shoulder, mole, roasted vegetables, baked potatoes.  Anything that will not be adversely affected by the taste of garlic, as the roasting garlic is quite pungent and will infuse whatever else is cooking in the oven.  (Making a delicate pastry crust is not the time to also roast garlic!)  I’ve roasted garlic at a variety of temperatures, between 250 – 450 degrees F.  It will take much longer at 250 degrees (about 2-3 hours); above 450 degrees it is likely to burn before it roasts.  But that range is pretty flexible and means you can roast a head of garlic alongside many dishes.
  2. I make a lot of bread and pizza in the winter.  It warms up the house, not to mention smelling and tasting great.  A pizza stone should be pre-heated for about an hour before using, and the oven is on for another 30-60 minutes to cook the bread or pizza, so it will take a long time cooling off.  Once the bread or pizza is done, I will turn off the oven, but put a garlic head in the oven, on top of the pizza stone, and let it sit in the cooling oven.  I often leave it overnight to find roasted garlic in the morning.
  3. A toaster oven is a great way to roast a couple of heads of garlic.  It’s small and efficient, so heating it up for an hour or so is much less energy-intensive than using the stove.  If you have one, try it out for roasting garlic. You just need a small enough bowl to fit into the toaster oven.  I’ve used small ramekins, with one head/ramekin, in the past.
  4. We do a lot of grilling in the summertime.  We also have a copper firepit that gets used pretty frequently; we light a campfire any time friends come up for the weekend, or when we want to sit outside in spring or fall.  A great way to roast garlic in the summer, when you definitely do not want the oven on for an hour, is to wrap the entire clove (soaked in butter or olive oil), in a double layer of aluminum foil, and bury in the coals.  Depending on how hot your coals are, this can roast a head of garlic in 30 minutes or so.  You can also put a couple of heads alongside the edge of a charcoal grill, while you are cooking.  Once the meal is done, place the cover on the grill and let the residual heat in the coals roast the garlic.  Before the end of the night, the garlic will be done.
  5. Olive oil is the traditional way to roast garlic, but I’ve compared them sisde-by-side and butter works equally well, for those of us who are trying to eat as locally as possible.  Olive oil will produce a nicely browned clove a little faster than butter, but the taste is quite similar. I’ve used both, and olive oil is more convenient, but I try to use butter as often as possible.  If roasting at a very high temperature, or buried in the coals of a campfire, olive oil is the better bet as it will be less likely to scorch than butter.

    Olive oil on the left, butter on the right. Roasted for 1 hour at 400 F.

    Olive oil on the left, butter on the right. Roasted for 1 hour at 400 F.


Roasted garlic, in the head and in an airtight container, will last for about two weeks in the refrigerator.



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