How To Sauté Garlic: Everything There Is To Know

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Many think to overthink it, but it’s easier to sauté garlic than it looks! Put simply, to sauté something just means you pan-fry it for as little time as possible on a medium to high heat – however, there are still plenty of tricks you can use to get it right every time. Here, I’ll be showing you those tricks – so let’s get into it!

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Table of Contents

Garlic ready for frying/sauteing

How Do You Properly Cook Garlic?

There are really only two ways to cook garlic; roasting and sautéing.

Sautéing works wonderfully to imbue your oil (and by extension, food) with flavor. While roasting does the same, the situations in which it is used can be quite different – for example, you can roast garlic inside a turkey to flavor the inside before stuffing. You can also roast garlic with a little oil to make a pureé!

When roasting garlic for stocks or other dishes, most people will simply cut the top off of the whole bulb and add a little oil before cooking. The resulting garlic can then be squeezed out of the bulb if desired.

When Should You Add Garlic When Cooking?

It’s best to add garlic before anything else (except for perhaps onions). This is because garlic infuses the oil with flavor, and has an unpleasant texture and bitter flavor when raw. Frying it first will give you a flavorful oil that’s sure to make any food you cook in it taste better, while the actual garlic pieces themselves remain imperceptible when cooked.

You CAN saute onions first, but I like to sauté them together for ease. This works best when the garlic and onion have been minced together in the food processor – the excess juices will keep the garlic from burning and allow you to cook the onion fully. If you’re roasting garlic for a dish, the place to add them will likely depend on either the recipe, the reasons it’s being roasted, or your personal preference.

How Long Does It Take To Sauté Garlic?

Luckily (or perhaps unluckily, if you’re easily distracted), it doesn’t take long to sauté garlic cloves at all! How long to saute garlic is dependent on your heat and stove, but it’s always a fast process. Usually, it’ll take about a minute, but if you’re cooking on a good burner with high heat it might even be 30 seconds.

Choosing An Oil for Frying Garlic – Things to Know

How To Choose An Oil

While most oils are fine, you should be aware that some are not suitable for frying. This is because some oils have smoke points that are too low for frying – for example, different types of olive oil have different smoke points. Because of this, there are one or two olive oils that won’t be any good when sautéing garlic. If you are looking to use olive oil though, my go-to is pure olive oil.

How To Sauté Garlic In Butter

It is possible to sauté garlic in butter, but you have to be extra careful. This is because, like olive oils, butter has a lower smoke point than other fats. This can be a hindrance when frying food as it’s so easy to burn your butter and end up with bitter-tasting food.

If you really want that buttery flavor, a great trick is to drizzle the tiniest bit of oil before placing your butter into the pan. Try to get the butter to fall on top of the oil you just placed down – an oil with a higher smoke point will protect the butter from burning, and the butter will overpower a neutrally flavored oil, resulting in a delicious tasting dish. You can do it without the oil too, but it might be best to cook on the lowest heat possible and take lots of precautions.

To saute garlic in butter, start with low heat and add the butter to the pan. Wait for it to stop foaming – when it does, the butter will be at just the right temperature. This is the perfect point to add your garlic! Turn the temperature up to medium and fry until golden, then add in your other ingredients.

How Do You Sauté Garlic Without Oil?

You can sauté garlic without oil, but it is a little bit more difficult. The most important thing to worry about when doing this is your pan – it is absolutely vital that your pan is a good quality non-stick. Sweat your garlic dry on medium heat, moving it every now and then to ensure it doesn’t burn. Do this for a few minutes until your garlic is golden, then add in your other ingredients!

cooked garlic falling against black background

How To Sauté Garlic In Oil: A Recipe

Tastemade has an excellent video that shows you different ways to prep garlic, as well as how to use it in your cooking. Not only this, but they also demonstrate different preservation methods for fresh garlic! I thought the most useful part of this video was from 00:17 to 01:30, where they go through some different cutting methods.

What You Will Need

  1. Garlic
  2. Oil suitable for sautéing
  3. A sharp knife, food processor, or garlic mincer
  4. The food you wish to add to your dish, if any

Method

Preparation

  1. Prep your garlic following the video – start this by peeling, then cutting using whichever method you find best. How finely you should cut the garlic usually depends on what you’re using it for. For example, for rice or a tomato sauce, mincing the garlic a finely as possible is best. However, if you want to incorporate more texture into something like a stew, rougher cuts may give you what you’re looking for.
  2. If you would like instead, you can also use a food processor! When I fry garlic and onions together for pre-fried rice, I’ll usually chop the onion into garlic clove-sized pieces and cut the garlic cloves in half. Add the onion to your food processor, then the garlic on top, and pulse until it’s as thin as you’d like! I’ll generally give it two pulses, stopping in between to take out the blade and mix in the pieces that have been blasted to the sides.

Cooking

  1. Because I’m impatient and like to use the biggest burner, I generally fry garlic on the lowest heat as it gives me the same effect as using the medium heat. If you’re using a smaller burner, turn up the heat to medium or medium-high and check in every 15 seconds to make sure it doesn’t need earlier stirring.
  2. When your garlic is ready – as well as any other ingredients you plan to sauté with it – add some oil to the pan. You can tell when the oil is ready by the change in consistency – hot oil will be a tiny bit runnier To check your oil, tilt the pan to the side after a minute or so and check how quickly the oil runs down the side of the pan.
  3. When your oil is hot, keep the heat on low and add garlic. It should make a lovely sizzling sound as it fries lightly.
  4. After 30 seconds or so, ‘stir’ it briefly to flip the little garlic pieces over – this will ensure that the garlic doesn’t burn and that it is thoroughly fried. If you see it start to stick to the pan or turn brown at any point, give it another quick stir and lower the heat if you can.
  5. When it starts looking blonde or golden, add in the rest of your ingredients! And, apart from the rest of your recipe, you’re done with sautéing!

How To Sauté Minced Garlic – Is It Any Different?

If you’re using garlic paste or minced garlic, you’ll be glad to know that all of the same rules apply! It might just take a little bit longer as it likely has a little more liquid. That goes double for pickled minced garlic. If you’re using pre-cut, minced, or pasted garlic, and your recipe calls for two cloves, check here to find out how many tablespoons is two cloves of garlic. There’s also a great way to mince garlic easily if you don’t have a garlic press.

fresh garlic

If sautéing garlic is too much work, try using an alternative like garlic powder. And if you’re also out of that, you can always substitute it for garlic salt! Just be sure to add your dried/salted garlic while the dish is cooking, not before adding the ingredients like you would for sautéd garlic.

If the recipe you’re making calls for stock cubes, I’ve found a good way of mincing garlic to be letting your garlic cloves rest in the hot water before you add the stock. Before their completely soft, take them out and put them through a garlic mincer!

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FAQs

Can you fry garlic?

While sautéing is a form of frying, you can definitely also fry the garlic in slightly deeper oil – this is especially good if you cut it into slices, and works excellently when making aglio e olio pasta.

Should garlic be sautéed first?

It is always best to sauté garlic first as it will flavor your cooking oil and, in turn, will immediately flavor the rest of the food you cook in that pan. In addition to this, it’s important to sauté it first as raw garlic is a little bitter and has an unpleasant texture – if you add other ingredients before the garlic, it’s unlikely to cook properly. The only exception to this is onions.

How long does it take to pan fry garlic?

If you find yourself wondering ‘how long should I cook garlic?’, the answer is not long. Not long at ALL. It’ll of course depend on how hot your stove is and other variables, but I find that it takes about a minute for garlic to be ready. From prepping to fully sautéing, the process takes about 2 to 3 minutes.

How do you sauté garlic without burning it?

Just be sure to keep a low heat and stir your garlic when it starts to darken. If it starts turning brown and stirring doesn’t help, fry it off the heat for a few seconds. Some warning signs that your garlic is about to burn is browning, getting stuck to the pan, and heavy sizzling.

How do you cook garlic in a pan?

Peel and chop your garlic, then drizzle some oil into the pan. Turn on medium heat and allow your oil to heat up, then quickly add in the garlic. From there, wait until the garlic is blonde in colour and quickly mix it again to allow the other sides cook. It should take around 30 seconds to 1 minute for you to finish sauteeing them. After done, either remove your pan from the heat or add in the rest of your ingredients.

Recipe Ideas To Use Sautéd Garlic In

This Benihana garlic butter or some stovetop quesadillas are both incredibly convenient ways to try your hand at it. And, if you’re trying to kill two birds with one stone, Brazilian-style rice is an excellent dish to use to learn how to sauté garlic and how to keep rice from being crunchy!

Regardless of these recipes, sautéed garlic works in virtually everything, so there are plenty of dishes to try it out in.

How Do You Sauté Garlic? Easy!

So, there you have it – sautéing garlic is incredibly simple! There are a few different ways to get it done and various tools you can use along the way for ease and convenience. whether you decide to use oil, butter, or nothing at all, it’ll turn out great way! As long as you’re careful, of course. Either way, I hope this article has inspired you to experiment with not only garlic, but your cooking in general!

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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