Why It Works
- Removing fried garlic from the heat and straining when it's lightly golden keeps it from turning too dark and bitter due to carryover cooking.
- Fried garlic can be easily cooked on the stovetop or in the microwave, providing flexibility for different kitchen setups and cooks.
- An optional light dusting of powdered sugar after cooking helps offset some of the natural bitterness of fried garlic, without making it sweet or sacrificing crunch.
- Along with crispy fried garlic, this recipe produces an aromatic fried-garlic oil that can be used to make things like garlic fried rice, vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, or subsequent batches of fried garlic.
Like Thai-style fried shallots, crispy fried garlic is a savory, pantry-friendly garnish popular throughout Southeast Asia, where it's known as krathiem jiaw in Thai and tỏi phi in Vietnamese. We reach for it all the time to bring allium crunch to vegetables, noodles, stir-fries, curries, salads, homemade chili crisp, and so much more. Preparing your own fried garlic is easy—this recipe provides instructions for making it on the stovetop and in the microwave—and gives you the bonus reward of aromatic fried-garlic oil, a flavor-boosting pantry ingredient in its own right that can be used for making everything from fried rice to mayonnaise.
The key to success for fried garlic lies mostly in timing: it's important to closely monitor the garlic throughout the cooking process to ensure that it doesn't end up too dark, which will give it an acrid flavor. As with fried shallots, the garlic needs to be pulled off the heat and drained just as it reaches a pale golden brown; carryover cooking will take it the rest of the way, producing crunchy, golden-brown bits. And the best way to ensure success is to completely set up your workspace before frying, as you'll need to move quickly at the end of the cooking process.
Once you strain the fried garlic from the oil, you spread it out on two layers of paper towels, season it with salt, and a dust it very lightly with powdered sugar. The sugar-dusting, a trick that I picked up cooking in restaurants, helps to subtly temper the natural bitterness of the garlic, without making it sweet or sacrificing its crunch. Once cooled, the crispy fried garlic and aromatic fried-garlic oil can be stored for weeks, although with all their possible uses, it's highly unlikely they'll last that long in your kitchen.
- 2 heads garlic (about 5 ounces; 140g total), cloves separated, peeled, and trimmed
- 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil
- Kosher salt
- Powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and set a fine-mesh strainer over a large heatproof bowl; set aside. Using a sharp knife, chop garlic into approximately 1/4- to 1/8-inch pieces. Alternatively, transfer whole garlic cloves to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until garlic is chopped into approximately 1/4- to 1/8-inch pieces, 10 to 12 pulses.
If cooking on stovetop: Combine chopped garlic and oil in a 2-quart saucepan or wok. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring frequently with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, until garlic begins to bubble steadily, 2 to 3 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring frequently and scraping down the sides and bottom of the saucepan to ensure even cooking and prevent garlic from sticking and scorching, until garlic turns pale golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Working quickly, pour contents of saucepan into prepared strainer set over bowl. (Garlic will continue cooking for a brief period after draining, so do not allow it to get too dark.)
If cooking in microwave: Combine garlic and oil in a large microwave-safe bowl and stir to break up any clumps. Microwave on high power for 5 minutes. Stir with a heat-resistant rubber spatula, scraping down sides of the bowl. Continue to microwave in 2-minute increments, stirring between each round, until garlic begins to turn lightly golden, 4 to 8 minutes total. Microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between each round, until evenly pale golden brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute and 30 seconds longer. Working quickly, pour contents of bowl into strainer set over bowl. (Garlic will continue cooking for a brief period after draining, so do not allow it to get too dark.)
Immediately transfer garlic to prepared baking sheet, spread out into an even layer, and season with salt. Using fine-mesh cocktail or tea strainer, lightly dust garlic with powdered sugar (if using). Allow garlic to drain, then carefully lift the top layer of paper towels and roll garlic onto second layer, blotting gently with the first. Allow fried garlic and garlic oil to cool to room temperature, then transfer to separate airtight containers, lining bottom of container for fried garlic with a folded paper towel. Store fried garlic at room temperature and garlic oil in the refrigerator.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Fried garlic can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month. Fried-garlic oil can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 month.