Garlic Oil

Having a jar of home-made garlic infused oil on hand is almost a must in my kitchen. You can use just a bit of the garlic in recipes that call for it (and it is so much better than the commercial varieties of chopped garlic), or you can also take only the oil for stir-frying, or adding to salad dressings, etc. I personally find using a little of both is great for the base of marinades and the like.

Making some for yourself is not difficult at all, but you do need to be a little careful as improper procedures can result in potentially harmful spoilage. Both salt and refrigeration are required if you wish to keep the preparation for any longer than a few days and, after years of doing things this way, I can happily say that I have never had any problems…

For this batch, I used:

  • ½ cup chopped fresh Garlic (about 2 good sized heads);
  • 1 generous tablespoon of coarse salt (non-iodized preferred);
  • 1 ½ cups Oil (for the choice of type read on).

The ratio of salt to garlic used here is just about right, in my experience. It will help prevent spoilage but not yield too salty a result. As for the quantity of oil, there is no magic amount. A lesser quantity, say just a cup, will obviously result in a stronger tasting oil more quickly, but a cup and a half is fine too. I probably wouldn’t use much more though.

As to the choice of oil, this is up to you and depends upon the eventual use. If you are only going to be making salad dressings, for example, using an extra-virgin olive oil would be great but anything too strong tasting will limit the use a bit. I am using a very light and mild (non-virgin) olive oil here and I have on occasion used just a plain neutral-tasting vegetable oil, and sometimes a blend.

Put your garlic and salt in a suitable jar and combine them together. Don’t give just a few token stirs with a spoon but really mix them vigorously. This will not only allow the salt to penetrate the garlic fragments, it will also help develop the flavors of the garlic itself.

After you add the oil, stir again, and then put the covered container in the fridge. You will note that, once it chills, the oil becomes opaque and very thick. This is normal, however, and it will quickly revert to its normal appearance after only 10 or 15 minutes at room temperature. In practice though, I usually spoon out as much as I need without needing to ‘melt’ it.

You will probably want to let the mixture sit for a few days to allow the flavor to penetrate the oil but, after that, it is ready for use. I find that I use the oil more quickly than the garlic and so I replenish this from time to time. The garlic will darken somewhat as time passes, but the flavor will last for several months. I suspect that the mixture will actually last for considerable longer than that before it begins to deteriorate but I generally find that I use up the garlic pieces within 3 months or so and need to make a new batch.

Anyway, this is just a simple little post today but, if you haven’t tried doing this yet, I predict you will find it a practice you want to continue…




  1. I have made my own chili oil with varying degrees of success. This seems like a great thought, particularly if one is making oriental dishes that use a deal of both garlic and oil in the wok.

    1. I gather that many Chinese chefs often do make a garlic oil ahead of time but that the garlic is generally lightly cooked in the oil rather than salted and left raw.

  2. I’m like Conor, making chili oil but haven’t made garlic oil. I’ve worried about the garlic going bad but it seems you have solved that by using salt.

  3. For lazy people like me, I can buy chopped garlic in bottles, even organic, in supermarket. But the chefs in restaurants use fresh garlic, and crush them with their big choppers, and just throw them immediately into the big wok with oil.
    I did prepare some garlic in oil like you, but I have not added salt. I will do that next time. Thanks for the details.

  4. I did this with whole cloves of garlic and no salt. Keep it in the fridge. The next batch I will add salt. Thanks!

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