Why You Shouldn't Always Follow The Recipe When It Comes To Garlic

Garlic can add so much flavor to dishes. However, a lot can go wrong, too, when cooking with garlic. Common mistakes include using too much or crushing and peeling cloves with the wrong tool. (In fact, one of the biggest mistakes people make is incorrectly using a garlic press, which can accentuate the worst aromas and flavors of garlic.) Then there's the dilemma of which bulbs to choose — softneck or hardneck – to achieve the flavor you're after. However, these problems should only be of concern if you, or your dinner guests, are particularly sensitive to garlic. For those who love garlic, there's one particular issue that can cause your dish to take a turn for the worse.  

It starts with the recipe. Some cooks follow the exact directions, applying the precise amount of garlic to their dishes as called for, at the moment recommended. Others, who fancy garlic, may add more than the instructions calls for. No matter what your garlic habits are, one of the most important things is knowing when to add garlic to the pan and with what (if any) ingredients. 

Knowing when to add garlic can save your dish

There are plenty of recipes that call for onion and garlic (or even garlic alone) to be sautéed before adding other ingredients. According to Reddit user f_leaver, when a recipe instructs you to sauté onions and garlic together in a pan, you really shouldn't. The home chef wrote in a Reddit thread about cooking no-nos that it could potentially burn the garlic and ruin the dish. If you find that your garlic burns quickly, try adding it later in the cooking process, sautéing it for just a minute or two before taking the pan off the heat.

Bon Appétit recommends adding garlic halfway through the cooking process. An added benefit of doing this is that other ingredients will already be in the pan, which prevents the garlic from coming into direct contact with the hot surface. One of the few exceptions, per Bon Appétit, is when cooking pasta sauce. In this instance, garlic should be added to the pan early. The addition of the liquid from oil or sauce will keep the garlic from burning and helps it to maintain its flavor.  

So consider waiting to add your garlic closer to the end of cooking. You just may find that it brings out the fragrant and savory flavors of the dish a lot more.