Garlic confit is a preparation method that yields deliciously golden-brown, jammy cloves. Smear these soft, spreadable cloves on toasted bread, toss with pasta, or blend into a soup.
Confit is a slow cooking method that preserves food by typically submerging the food in fat (though sugar-based confit is also common) while cooking it at a low temperature. Prior to refrigeration, confit was a traditional preservation technique used to store food for months. Duck confit is one of the oldest foods utilizing this technique.
Excitingly, chefs have taken the confit process to new levels in the last few years. Anything that can be confited has been confited. There's tomato confit, chili confit—and my favorite, garlic confit. Compared to other cooking methods, confit yields a subtle sweetness and complexity to garlic.
How to Make Garlic Confit
For traditional fat-based confit, it is imperative to cook the food at a low temperature. Both the oven and stovetop are options, but in this case, we recommend using the stovetop so that you can easily adjust the heat to achieve the right texture and flavor.
To make garlic confit, follow these steps:
- Peel all the garlic and trim the ends.
- Place garlic in a saucepan and completely submerge with olive oil.
- Bring the pan to a simmer on medium heat, then reduce the heat to the lowest possible temperature until just a few small bubbles appear on the surface.
- Let garlic cook for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours until it is soft, spreadable, and golden-brown. It may take longer depending on the size and temperature of the oil.
- Transfer the garlic (and the oil) to a clean, heatproof, airtight container and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
The Best Oil for Confit
Technically speaking, you can use any oil for garlic confit. Olive oil and canola oil both work, though I prefer olive oil as it penetrates the garlic for even more flavor. Because the garlic flavors the oil, you don't need to use fancy olive oil, either. Just make sure that your oil tastes fresh and hasn't gone rancid.
How to Easily Peel Garlic Cloves
Peeling a few garlic cloves is one thing but peeling multiple heads of garlic can seem like a lot of work. Luckily, I have two ways to peel garlic most efficiently:
- Buy pre-peeled garlic cloves. You can purchase containers of already-peeled garlic cloves at most grocery stores.
- Shake the papery skins off the garlic using an airtight container. If you're trying to use leftover garlic, buying pre-peeled cloves isn't very helpful. In this case, firmly use the heel of your hand (or the flat side of a knife) to smash the head of garlic into individual cloves. Then place the cloves into an airtight mason jar or a bowl with a lid. With the lid shut, shake the container vigorously for 30 seconds. Open the container and continue shaking until all garlic cloves have loosened from their skins. Discard the papery skins. Sometimes, you may need to peel a few remaining stragglers with tight skins by hand.
Tips and Tricks for Making Garlic Confit
For the easiest and most flavorful garlic confit, keep these few tips in mind:
- Adjust the temperature of the stove as needed. Even though this isn't the most active recipe, checking on your garlic every few minutes is essential to prevent it from cooking too quickly. The higher the temperature, the faster the garlic will cook. But a quicker cook can compromise flavor and texture. Too high of a temperature will yield an acrid taste.
- Look for small, gentle bubbling. If the temperature is too high, even at the lowest setting, move the pan slightly off the burner to reduce the heat.
- Test a clove to determine when the garlic is finished cooking. Remove a clove and mash gently with a spoon. It should mash easily with little resistance and taste slightly sweet and tender.
- Store garlic confit in a safe, airtight container in the fridge. It is vital to store garlic confit safely to reduce the risk of botulism, a rare but serious illness. Please take a look at our safety information below for proper storage instructions.
Variations on Garlic Confit
Garlic confit is delicious enough on its own, but there are many exciting ways to amp up the flavors if desired.
- Add a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary to the pan for an earthy, fragrant twist.
- Spice up your garlic confit with whole chilies. Both fresh and dried chilies work well here.
- Bring in more allium flavor by incorporating shallots or pearl onions.
How to Use Garlic Confit
The soft texture of garlic confit is ideal for folding into mashed potatoes or soups, tossing with pasta, or spreading on bread. Take a look at some of our favorite ways to use garlic confit:
- Sub garlic confit for fresh garlic in this garlic bread recipe
- Try using garlic confit instead of fresh garlic in this pasta dish
- Mash some garlic confit into this baked potato soup
How to Store Garlic Confit
Botulism is a rare but severe illness caused by a toxin released by a few different types of bacteria. Botulism occurs from improperly canned or preserved foods in low acid and low sugar environments or in specific temperature ranges. In the case of garlic confit, neither the oil nor the garlic are acidic enough to prevent botulism from occurring at room temperature. However, you can consume garlic confit safely using proper techniques.
- After making the confit, store it in a clean, airtight container and ensure the garlic is completely submerged in oil.
- Garlic confit should always be stored in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.
- Always use a clean utensil to remove the confit from the jar to prevent any risk of contamination. Immediately place the jar back into the refrigerator after taking some garlic confit out for consumption.
- Use a thermometer to check the temperature of your refrigerator. It should be no higher than 40°F.
- Most research shows that garlic confit needs to be eaten within three to seven days. Your safest choice is to consume it within three days.
- Freeze garlic confit to preserve it longer using the instructions provided by the USDA.
- 3 heads of garlic
- 1 cup of olive oil, or more if needed
Peel the garlic:
Use the heel of your hand (or the flat side of a knife) to firmly smash the head of garlic into individual, unpeeled cloves. You will likely need to smash the head a few times until all the cloves loosen.
In an airtight mason jar or a bowl with a lid, add the garlic cloves. With the lid tightly closed, shake the container vigorously for 30 seconds.
Next, open the container, and continue shaking in 30-second intervals until all garlic cloves have loosened from their skins. At this point, most, if not all, of the cloves should easily peel away from their skins. If you have a few unpeeled cloves, peel them by hand.
Trim the garlic:
Use a knife to trim off the ends of the garlic and place them into a small, 2-quart saucepan.
Cook the garlic confit:
Pour the olive oil into the saucepan, ensuring the garlic is fully submerged. You may need to add more oil, depending on the size of your cloves.
Set the saucepan on medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. You should see a mix of medium-sized and smaller bubbles frequently coming to the surface and popping. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting on your stove or until small, gentle bubbling occurs. If the bubbling is too vigorous, move the saucepan slightly off the burner to lower the heat under the saucepan. If no bubbling is occurring, increase the heat slightly.
Let the garlic cloves cook for 45 minutes, or until they are golden-brown, and easily mash with a fork with little resistance.
Check the garlic confit:
Garlic should taste slightly sweet and caramelized. As the garlic cooks, make sure to check on it every few minutes to adjust the heat as needed and maintain tiny bubbles. The cooking process may take as long as 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the garlic and the temperature of the pan.
Store the garlic confit:
Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the garlic confit (with the cloves and oil) into a heatproof mason jar or container. You may want to place a funnel into the jar to prevent spillage while transferring the liquid. Use a container large enough to ensure the oil completely submerges the garlic. Close the jar with an airtight lid, and immediately refrigerate.
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