The Biggest Mistake You're Making When Roasting Garlic

We know what roasted garlic should taste like (The Kitchn describes it as, "caramelized with a gentler flavor that borders on sweetness."), which is what makes it so frustrating when our roasted garlic ends up tasting boring — or bitter! Even if you're careful to use firm, fresh heads of garlic and good quality oil, Serious Eats says where roasted garlic often fails is simply when the oven is too hot. When done right, roasted garlic has a beautifully soft texture and mouth-watering caramelization. While we love the intensity that raw garlic brings to recipes like Martha Stewart's classic pesto, mellow, roasted garlic is sublime when spread on a slice of crusty bread, mixed into dips, or in recipes like The Spruce Eats' luscious mashed potatoes.

Several steps go into roasting cloves of garlic to perfection. Serious Eats recommends beginning by slicing the top from the head of garlic to partially expose the cloves inside, giving it a drizzle of good olive oil, and wrapping the head well in foil — but if the oven temperature isn't set low enough, even these steps won't produce that really good roasted garlic of your dreams.

It's all about temperature, and patience!

Roasted garlic is one of those things that you just can't rush. (No matter how much you're dying to dive into it!) As Bon Appétit notes, the risk of trying to rush roasted garlic to the table is that the outside of the head could burn before the center finishes cooking. Serious Eats states that overcooked garlic is quite bitter, and definitely not a flavor you want interfering with the rest of your dish.

To caramelize the natural sugars in garlic, low and slow is key. Set your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and roast the garlic for around 45 minutes. This gentle approach will ensure that every clove is full of sweet, roasted flavor without a hint of bitter char. You'll know it's ready when the cloves have a soft brown color and very soft texture. Let your roasted garlic cool a little after it comes out of the oven, then squeeze the cloves out of their paper skins or serve the heads whole for an impressive presentation alongside meats or other roasted veggies.