Roasted Garlic Makes Any Meal Better

Remember when you were a kid and you got to put on your first pair of tiny dress-up heels? Even better than your double-buckle Mary Janes, you actually felt like a mini-adult allowed into the grown-up club?

That’s how I felt the first time I ever ate roasted garlic.

roasted garlic
Photo: Casey Barber

Never one to plan a trip without a good meal or five, my dad chose the French standby Bistro 110 as a lunch destination during a quick weekend trip to Chicago.

Along with the customary sliced baguettes and creamy butter (something I always indulged in during any restaurant visit, as our fridge was oddly dependent on the Country Crock for such a foodie household), the server left a bulb of roasted garlic at the table while we studied the menus.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’d ever seen an entire head of garlic before this point.

So it was a true revelation when Dad showed my sister and I how to scoop the golden elixir out of the papery husks and spread it on bread just like my longed-for butter.

roasted garlic
Photo: Casey Barber

This wasn’t the sharp, nostril-singeing garlic that I found chopped into my linguini with clams, nor was it the metallic powdery garlic that my grandma shook onto our garlic bread before sliding it under the broiler.

This was mellow, smooth, rich.

If I’d known what foie gras was at this point in my food career (ha, fat chance), I’d have realized I found its vegetarian equivalent, but my teenage tastebuds were years away from such metaphors.

Piling my pungent bounty on the crusty round slivers, I felt oh-so-cosmopolitan at our sidewalk cafe table in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, surrounded by the stately limestone water towers that survived the bovine-induced inferno of 1871.

With each bite of the garlic puree, I was understanding the secret of what good food was really all about.

roasted garlic
Photo: Casey Barber

I never went back to Bistro 110 after those first family trips—there was always another new gastropub to try, another burger I need to find, another bar to explore.

But it was always comforting to see the familiar script lettering of its sign every time I wandered down Michigan Avenue.

I’ll miss it, but now I can make as much roasted garlic as I want at home.

I’ll throw a foil-wrapped head into the oven while I’m baking other meals, or just do it in my countertop toaster oven on its own. I’ll even make it on the grill in the summer months.

roasted garlic
roasted garlic

Roasted Garlic

Yield: 1 head of garlic
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Roasted garlic is a spreadable, pungent treat that comes from roasting whole heads of garlic in the oven or on the grill for about an hour.


  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pinch kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Take a piece of aluminum foil long enough to encompass the head of garlic and fold it in half so it's double-layered and can better insulate the garlic.
  3. With a sharp knife, slice off the tip of the garlic head so that the cloves are exposed.
  4. Place the garlic in the middle of the aluminum foil square.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt, and wrap in the foil, sealing tightly but leaving a bit of breathing room around the garlic inside its silver package.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the garlic cloves are spreadably soft and golden brown.
  7. Take care when opening the foil package—any escaping steam will burn.
  8. Let cool for 10 minutes before peeling and squeezing out the softened cloves.


The roasted garlic puree can be whipped into compound butter, pureed into a vinaigrette, or just spread on crusty baguettes in homage to my eureka moment so many years ago.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 42Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 69mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 1g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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    1. Hmm, a roasted garlic cocktail – can’t we make up a Gibson-style martini with the cloves standing in for onions? Or stuff olives with roasted garlic puree? I expect a cold one left on my doorstep when you finally crack the code.

  1. So funny. Lately I’ve been roasting garlic every chance I get. I love the way it makes the house smell and adore the taste. Yesterday, I emptied the cloves into a big bowl and topped it with farro and roasted veggies, with a little goat cheese mixed in. THE best!

  2. It wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I had roasted garlic. We made it every day at the restaurant I managed and when the doors opened at 5pm the people that walked in would sigh as they took in the aroma that filled the whole dining room.

  3. I found a really cute way to roast garlic – I get little terra cotta flower pots from the garden store, complete with the little plate to keep water from seeping all over (which also acts perfectly as a lid for the pot). Then I roast the garlic heads, each in its own individual pot. They smell divine – but you’ll never get that smell out of the clay. ;)

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