What Is Black Garlic?

Black Garlic

The Spruce / Ailsa von Dobeneck

  • Total: 540 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 540 hrs

Black garlic can be found on menus everywhere, but this unique ingredient isn’t anything new. It has been used for flavor and medicinal purposes and in a variety of Asian cuisines for centuries. Black garlic is, simply put, the product of aging regular garlic bulbs over the course of weeks or months. It requires strictly regulated temperature and humidity to achieve its sticky consistency.

With a softer, molasses-like flavor, it is a more delicate option than the raw bulb. It also has added health benefits, including twice the amount of antioxidants than in its regular form. What’s the best part? It’s versatile and can be swapped out for regular garlic in most recipes. It is a beautiful addition to any cheese plate, bruschetta, chicken dishes, or even as a pizza topper. It also gives that extra something to a homemade vinaigrette. Keep in mind it is milder in flavor so we recommend, as always, to taste as you add.

The process of making black garlic is less difficult than it is long. It can be aged for up to 60 days but will be ready to use after three weeks.

There are quite a few DIY methods. If you plan on making black garlic frequently, the purchase of a fermenting box can be a great investment. However, the best approach without additional kitchenware is to age your bulbs in a slow cooker or rice cooker. The process is easy but takes patience to achieve that super sweet result.

As an additional warning, you will have that delicious garlic smell wafting in your kitchen for the entire cooking process. So be prepared to have your tummy grumbling.


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Remove any dirt from the garlic bulbs by scrubbing the bulbs gently with the rough side of a clean, unused sponge. Do not remove the cloves from the bulb and do not wash or wet the bulbs as this will disrupt the aging process. 

  3. Set your slow cooker or rice cooker to warm (not low). The warm setting provides just the right temperature and humidity for aging without cooking.

  4. Place whole, unpeeled, scrubbed garlic bulbs into the cooker. Do not overcrowd the bulbs. Leave enough space between the bulbs so they that do not touch. Cover.

  5. Allow the bulbs to sit uninterrupted on the "warm" setting until the cloves are soft and black (2 to 3 weeks). Check the slow cooker occasionally to make sure the setting is still on "warm" not "low" and that it hasn't switched off.

  6. When ready, store the bulbs whole in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Squeeze out cloves, as needed.


Please note: even though the garlic isn't cooking, there will be a strong garlic odor throughout the process.