Black Garlic: What it is and why we love it

So many Spice House customers are loyal garlic enthusiasts but even so Black Garlic flies under the radar. The question we invariably get is some variation of… “What IS Black Garlic!?”

Black Garlic is a high temperature and humidity fermented product.

Think ultra-caramelized garlic.

The unique process results in subtle, sweet, soft, chewy garlic with notes of balsamic and mushroom, and none of the bite you would associate with fresh garlic.

Our friends at Black Garlic North America make theirs with the freshest product they can source, using a number of different varieties from across North America.

In Korea and China, where the product originates, it is sometimes found in a sweet preparation with chocolate and even an energy drink!

We love to use it in vinaigrettes, spread thinly on bruschetta, as a finishing sauce for a stir-fry or ramen, and even an ice cream topping when mixed with maple syrup. The uses are limited only to your imagination. Although it is great on its own, we think it really blossoms when paired with sharp flavors like a nice stone ground mustard and rich neutral flavors like cream or mayo, or offset with something sour and salty.

With cold weather on its way, our staff favorite is a grilled cheese sandwich, using munster and sharp cheddar cheeses, fresh arugula and our black garlic spread. We think it would pair nicely with this customer submitted Tuscan Bread and Tomato Soup to use up the rest of that wonderful crusty bread you just bought! Be forewarned: this delicious comfort soup may inspire an afternoon nap. If you don’t have the time to prepare it ahead, we won’t tell if you opt to use the classic condensed tomato instead. We suggest you add a little Italian Herb and  Aleppo Chile, or just a dash of Smoked Paprika!

Here are some tips from the producers themselves:

1. Keep it neutral – The flavor of black garlic is most pronounced pureed and added in neutrally flavored foods such as mayonnaise, cream based sauces, or spread on bread.

2. Bring on the Acid – Black garlic also pairs very well with all types of vinegar, especially balsamic vinegar. Puree and add to balsamic vinegar, then make a reduction sauce for stir fry. Add chopped or pureed black garlic to white vinegar with oil for a delicious salad dressing.

3. More sugar please – Puree or chop and add to maple syrup, honey, agave, etc. Serve the sweet sauce on ice cream, pies, or over frosted cakes.

4. Give it some time – Black garlic will give the most pronounced flavor in recipes when the food is made a day ahead of time, so plan ahead for potato salad or sandwich sauces.

5. Fix the dish that is “missing something” – We have all cooked dishes that just tasted like they were missing something and no matter what is tossed into the concoction the flavor just seems dull. Next time you find yourself facing this challenge, add 2-4 cloves pureed into the dish. Problem solved!

Here is a list of our favorite uses to inspire your culinary imagination:

  1. Add to your favorite soups or stews.
  2. Whisk into your favorite homemade salad dressing.
  3. Use in a balsamic reduction, dark sauces or gravy.
  4. Add to your bolognese, meatballs, or favorite chili recipe.
  5. Whisk with oil to brush on chicken or fish before roasting.
  6. Try with roasted vegetables, omelettes or eggs.
  7. Add to your mashed and roasted potatoes, rice or stuffing.
  8. Enhance your grilled cheese sandwich or Mac and Cheese.
  9. Combine with herbs, yogurt,  mayo, or cream cheese for a tasty dip.
  10. Blend with mayo for a quick aioli for burgers or french fries.
  11. Include on your cheeseboard with, or as an alternative to, chutney.
  12. Mix into a homemade tomato sauce for pasta or  pizza.
  13. Melt into dark chocolate and drizzle on ice cream or fruit.
  14. Finish a stir-fry— blend tamari, black garlic, Aleppo pepper and a few drops of sesame oil.

The majority of our recipes on our site were created using the bulbs. When following recipes, a good rule to is: 1 clove of  black garlic = 1/4 teaspoon of the purée.


is an avid home cook and well-versed on every Spice House product and their numerous uses. She’s a poetic encyclopedia of spice knowledge and is responsible for creating and co-creating some of our newest blends. You can find Shea at our Chicago location inspiring customers and fellow staff.

The Marnotos of Olhão

Portuguese microbiologists are reviving the lost art of handcrafted sea salt. In the salt marshes of Olhão, on the southern coast of Portugal’s Algarve region, salt workers known as “Marnotos” carefully wade through ponds of…

Favorite Fall Recipes

When I was asked to write about favorite hearty fall meals, I had just returned from New Mexico where local markets and roadside stands were celebrating a new harvest of chile peppers. Red and Green…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *