We Tested 4 Famous Garlic Bread Recipes and the Winner Has Never Been So Clear
When I was a waitress at an Italian restaurant, my go-to order of garlic bread and meatballs was often my motivation to show up to work. The bread was sliced thickly, grilled until slightly charred, then slathered with garlic butter and topped with plenty of Parmesan. It was perfect on its own, and even better when dunked in the marinara sauce.
Because I’ve been spoiled by good garlic bread, I was determined to find a recipe that could live up to my high standards. In my opinion, the very best homemade garlic bread strikes a balance between crunchy and soft, doesn’t skimp on the butter, and really delivers on the garlic flavor. It should also be easy enough to make whenever the cravings strike.
To find this unicorn, I pitted four famous recipes against one another in an epic side-by-side taste test. Would the simplest one reign supreme, or would hot sauce and extra herbs prove to be the secret to better garlic bread? Would baking or broiling create a better texture? I tried it all and I can confidently say that the winner of this showdown is the best homemade garlic bread recipe there is.
Meet Our 4 Contenders
Because garlic bread is a pretty straightforward dish, even the smallest variations can make a really big difference. To determine what really separates the good from the great, I chose four contenders that brought something unique to the table: Rachael Ray, Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, Guy Fieri, and Nagi Maehashi of RecipeTin Eats.
Rachael Ray’s recipe was by far the easiest of the bunch, requiring a short list of pantry ingredients and calling for smashed garlic rather than minced, which I knew would cut down on prep time. Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe calls for a seeded baguette, which sounded like a smart and easy way to add texture and flavor. I was also intrigued by her use of dried herbs, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan. Guy Fieri’s hot sauce-laden recipe took home first prize in Insider’s garlic bread competition, so naturally I had to try it. Besides, Guy is the King of Flavortown, a title unlikely bestowed on someone who turns out subpar garlic bread. And lastly, because I’m a fan of Domino’s classic garlic bread, I knew I needed to include a copycat version (especially since they no longer sell it); RecipeTin Eats’ looked to be the most popular one.
How I Tested the Garlic Bread Recipes
Since we all know garlic bread tastes best fresh from the oven, I prepared all four recipes on the same afternoon and tasted each one while they were still warm. (The things I do for you!) I shopped for all of the recipes at the same grocery store at the same time, so the butter, garlic, parsley, etc. were consistent across the board. In the evening, I tasted each garlic bread a second time to see how they held up.
1. The Easy but Underwhelming Recipe: Rachael Ray’s Garlic Bread
- Overall rating: 5/10
- Get the recipe: Rachael Ray’s Garlic Bread
- Read more: Rachael Ray’s Garlic Bread Is as Easy as It Gets. But Is It Too Good to Be True?
Despite getting a few points for ease, this garlic bread fell a bit flat. Rachael doesn’t specify the type or size of bread, but 2 tablespoons butter plus 2 tablespoons olive oil won’t take you far at all in terms of covering the surface area on even the smallest loaf of bread. (For comparison, all of the other recipes called for at least 8 tablespoons butter). The other fatal flaw was the smashed garlic. While it was a timesaver, smashing instead of mincing the garlic translated to less garlic flavor in the butter mixture.
2. The Copycat That Fell Flat: RecipeTin’s Better-than-Dominos Garlic Bread
- Overall rating: 7/10
- Get the recipe: RecipeTin Eats’ Better-Than-Dominos Garlic Bread
- Read more: I Tried the Internet’s Most Popular Copycat Recipe of Domino’s Garlic Bread
RecipeTin Eats’ garlic bread tasted good, but it missed the mark as a Domino’s copycat. While the flavor was pretty close, the choice of a baguette ultimately felt too different from the original, which featured a flat, wide loaf. This recipe also required the most effort of the four, because you had to slice into the baguette and slather each slice with the garlic butter before baking.
Part of what makes Dominos’ garlic bread so beloved is its crunchy exterior, which they achieve in part by dusting their dough with cornmeal. For this recipe to get anywhere close to crispy, I had to remove the foil it was wrapped in and bake it an extra five minutes.
3. The Close Second: Smitten Kitchen’s Perfect Garlic Bread
- Overall rating: 9/10
- Get the recipe: Smitten Kitchen’s Perfect Garlic Bread
- Read more: I Tried Smitten Kitchen’s “Perfect” Garlic Bread, and It’s as Good as Promised
Unsurprisingly, Smitten Kitchen’s recipe resulted in some really great-tasting bread. The addition of red pepper flakes and oregano in the garlic-butter mixture really kicked things up a notch. The star of the show, however, was the seeded baguette — it was such a smart, easy way to make this garlic bread stand out. In addition to adding great texture, the toasted seeds gave the garlic bread a delicious nutty taste, creating layers of flavor without overwhelming the garlic. Overall, my only issue with this bread was that it was it a bit crunchy for my taste, which may just be a matter of opinion. That said, it would be perfect served with some saucy meatballs.
4. The Clear Winner: Guy Fieri’s Garlic Bread
- Overall rating: 10/10
- Get the recipe: Guy Fieri’s Garlic Bread
- Read more: Guy Fieri Has a Clever Trick for Making the Best Garlic Bread Ever
Guy Fieri’s garlic bread was hands-down the winner. When a garlic bread recipe calls for two sticks of butter, it’s hard to imagine it won’t taste great, but it was what Guy adds to the butter — scallions, Parmesan, garlic, hot sauce, and parsley — that really makes this garlic bread sing. When I took it out of the oven, the smell of bubbling butter and garlic overwhelmed my apartment in the best possible way. It was perfectly soft on the inside and crunchy on the exterior. It was like a little piece of buttery heaven. I had a very hard time not finishing the entire loaf myself.
While this recipe has more ingredients than the others, it’s still incredibly easy to make. You just mix everything together with the softened butter, spread it over the bread, and broil. Voila! You have some of the best tasting garlic bread I’ve ever had.
Do you have a favorite garlic bread recipe? Let us know in the comments!