How (and Why) You Should Grill a Whole Head of Garlic

updated Jun 13, 2019
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Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

We’re all looking for easy, effortless flavor boosters than can transform average meals into outstanding ones — be it rosey harissa or anchovy paste. But my most recent favorite might not even require a trip to the store — and certainly not a specialty store. It’s grilled garlic, and it’s about to upgrade everything you grill this summer.

Similar to how you can roast a whole head of garlic, you can cook one entirely on the grill. You don’t need to flip it or baste it or touch it at all once it’s on there, so I like to think of it as a bonus you’re rewarded with anytime you grill. Simply cut the head of garlic in half, drizzle it with olive oil, season it with salt, wrap it in foil, and place it on the grill over indirect heat. Then, turn your focus to whatever it is you’re grilling, whether it’s a protein, a bunch of veggies, or, may I suggest, a cut baguette? (You can likely guess where this is going.)

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

In just over 30 minutes, the garlic cloves will be caramelized and buttery-soft — perfect for mashing onto pretty much anything you’re eating. If you grilled some bread like I suggested, you can brush the charred baguette with oil or butter, smear it with the garlic, and top with chopped parsley for the best grilled garlic bread. Or, finish it off with fresh tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic for an easy grilled bruschetta.

Grilled garlic is also great mashed into a salad dressing — try it in this umami-packed miso dressing, which you can toss with grilled veggies or drizzle over grilled meats. Or, mash the cloves into softened salted butter and slather over grilled corn or grilled steak (or just rub the cloves directly onto the corn — equally as delicious).

The next time you’re firing up the grill, give it a try. Then tell me in the comments: How do you like to use a head of grilled garlic?