Great Garlic: How to Change Garlic Intensity in Any Dish

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Personally, we can’t get enough garlic. If the recipe calls for a clove or two, we’re bound to put in three or four. But not everyone has the same opinion and not every dish needs the same kind of garlic flavor. Here’s how to change its flavor and intensity in any dish you make!

One of the things we love about garlic is its versatility. Depending on how you cut it or cook it, garlic can be sweet and smoky, sharp and pungent, or simply mellow.

More or Less – Of course, simply adding a few more cloves is bound to increase the garlic factor in any dish. By that same token, if you’d like a more subtle flavor, cut the amount of garlic back to just a single small clove. You’re not going to throw off anything major in the recipe by doing so.

Whole or Minced – Whole garlic will give dishes a soft background garlic flavor while chopped or minced garlic will be more spicy, pungent, and pervasive. You can range across this spectrum by merely crushing the garlic cloves lightly, giving them a few quick chops, chopping them more finely, and so on.

Slow or Quick Cooking – Slow cooking over low heat caramelizes garlic and gives both it and your dish a sweet, mellow flavor. This can happen in the oven, as with roasting garlic whole, or when garlic is used in a long-cooked braise. On the flip side, sautéing garlic quickly in a stir fry or sauce keeps the garlic flavor fresh and sharp.

Combine these three factors and you can come up with a whole range of cooking methods and flavors. A lot of minced, quickly cooked garlic will give your dish a strong, bold garlic flavor while a few whole cloves of slowly cooked garlic will add just a sweet hint.

How intense do you like your garlic?

Related: Garlic Powder: Yay or Nay?

(Image: Flickr member Muffet licensed under Creative Commons)