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Authentic Lebanese Garlic Sauce (Restaurant Style)

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With just 4 ingredients that are naturally vegan and gluten-free, this mayo-free Garlic Sauce is thick, creamy, and packed with flavor. Serve with grilled meats or warm pita. 

Lebanese Garlic sauce is spread with a knife

While it does require a little knowledge and know-how, my Lebanese garlic sauce recipe uses just four simple ingredients. Garlic cloves, kosher salt, canola oil, and lemon juice are all you need to prepare this thick and creamy spread that goes well with Shish Tawook Chicken, Chicken Shawarma, or Kafta Kebabs. Grab your food processor and you’re only 15 minutes away from enjoying this addictive sauce. If you’re a visual person like me, I encourage you to watch this step-by-step video. It explains the entire process from start to finish.

garlic sauce in a bowl

What is Toum?

Toum means garlic in Arabic and is a well-known spread on sandwiches It was made by grinding the garlic into a paste (by using a mortar and pestle) and using olive oil and lemon to turn it into a fluffy garlic sauce. Due to the fact there are no milk or eggs that makeup Toum it’s considered to be 100% vegan.

What is Toum Made Up Of?

  • Garlic: You need fresh garlic and cannot substitute out with jarred or pre-minced garlic. Fresh garlic is key.
  • Lemon Juice: Again, fresh is best. You don’t need anything fancy, just cut a lemon in half and squeeze!
  • Salt: Simple yet essential ingredient to this sauce.
  • Oil: In my experience, Canola Oil has worked best.

How does Toum become creamy?

That cooking process is called emulsification. This article on Masterclass has a pretty good writeup on it and can also help when things go south in the process.

What foods go well with garlic sauce?

Depends on who you ask. My husband would say grab a tablespoon full and spread it onto some bread but it’s good with anything. Use it on vegetables, pasta, pita sandwiches, Beef Shawarma, or simply dip your Chicken Tawook in it. Feel free to get creative! The recipe is just four simple ingredients, but with a little love, it turns into a magical, intoxicating, and addictive sauce.

Adjusting the spice levels for taste:

If you’re looking to tone down the spice level, you can certainly use less garlic. Additionally, the type of garlic you use does make a difference. If you’re using elephant garlic, it will make the sauce a little milder. If you’re looking for a spicier sauce, then use fresh garlic and maybe a little bit of jalapeno.

Path To Success:

As you can see there are over 300 comments on this recipe. While mostly positive there are negative ones as well. The negative ones usually happen based on one of these situations.

  • Using something that isn’t a food processor. Blenders don’t have the power to properly blend this and may overheat from use. A food processor is the way to go. Don’t use a blender.
  • Using old garlic, minced garlic, or jarred garlic: Avoid all of these. It will make the end result bitter. Do not use it!
  • Drizzling the oil fast: This is not a race. You need to drizzle the oil in slowly until it emulsifies. If you dump it in too fast it will liquify and ruin the end result. You may need all the oil.
  • Subbing out the oil: Canola and Vegetable oil work. People have said refined avocado oil works. Other oils will alter the taste and possibly ruin the end product.

Common questions:

Is there mayonnaise in garlic sauce?

This is not a potato or mayonnaise-based garlic sauce. One of the best qualities of garlic sauce is that there is no mayo – making it a much healthier alternative.

Is Lebanese Garlic Sauce spicy?

Since the recipe does call for a larger amount of garlic, it can tend to be a little bit on the spicy side.

What’s the shelf life?

You can store the sauce for up to 1 month in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Your fork is waiting.

Thick Lebanese Garlic Sauce

Authentic Lebanese Garlic Sauce (Restaurant Style)

4.61 stars average
With just 4 ingredients that are naturally vegan and gluten-free, this garlic sauce is thick, creamy, and packed with flavor.
PREP: 10 mins
TOTAL: 10 mins
Save
Servings: 64 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 1 cup garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 cups canola oil (*you may not need all of this*)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice ((about one lemon))

Instructions
 

  • Place the garlic cloves and salt in a large food processor and puree until smooth. It's a good idea to scrape down the sides two or three times to ensure that all of the garlic is finely processed.
  • Turn the machine back on and slowly drizzle in the oil through the lid starting with 1/2 cup. After the first 1/2 cup has been added, pour in a teaspoon of the lemon juice.
  • Continue alternating between 1/2 cup of the canola oil and a teaspoon of the lemon juice until you've added all of the oil and lemon juice. Alternating between the two is the key to proper emulsification which creates the light and fluffy garlic sauce. One tip is to let the machine run between oil additions to let the emulsion thicken. NOTE: This process requires you to drizzle in the oil — not dump in the oil right away. When you see it begin to thicken up THEN you start with the lemon juice.
  • You know it's done when the sauce is white and thick with a similar consistency of mayonnaise. It usually takes about 10-15 minutes.

Recipe Video

Notes

Please read the Avoiding Failure Section prior to making

Nutrition

Serving: 1tablespoonCalories: 96kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 1gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 37mgPotassium: 10mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 1mg

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Need more delicious, homemade Lebanese food in your life? Check out my Pinterest board!

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Liz DellaCroce

Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog. Since 2010, Liz has been sharing delicious recipes that just so happen to be healthy. By using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality, Liz has built a growing audience of loyal readers who crave good food for their families. Click Here To Subscribe to my newsletter:

337 Comments

  1. I put a bit too much salt… other then that… awesome. I removed the green sprout (not sure how it is called) from the middle of the garlics and this will prevent the sauce from testing bitter…. You have to cut the garlic in half and remove that part in the middle of it that it is generally green and shreds easily.

  2. Simple recipe and love the sauce but I can attest for certain that if you use high quality extra virgin olive oil it works just fine.

  3. Hi! I’ve made this successfully and also had a few rather unsuccessful tries – I suspect because I halved the recipe and my small food processor wasn’t good enough to chop the garlic fine enough for it to properly thicken? Wondering if I could use a Vitamix blender instead of a food processor here?

  4. At first, this did not turn out well for me. The flavor was just off. I was in a hurry so I used pre-chopped garlic from a jar. What a waste I thought. Well, it’s been in the fridge a little over 2 days and I just tasted it again. It’s fantastic! Not sure how long it lasts but it’s very good at 2 days! Also, I used avocado oil, which never fails me!

    1. Ashley @ The Lemon Bowl

      Hi Lori, I’m glad it turned out well for you with your modifications! With this recipe, you can store the sauce in an airtight container for up to one month in the refrigerator. Enjoy!

  5. Pingback: 25 Authentic Lebanese Recipes - Insanely Good

  6. What a flavour bomb! It paired perfectly with the falafel and flat breads I’d made. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  7. Hello- can I halve or quarter this recipe or will that mess it up? I haven’t tried making twice and both times the mixture broke so I want to test out again but with less ingredients (to avoid food going to waste if it doesn’t work for me again).

  8. I am trying to imitate the garlic sauce at a Turkish kebab restaurant I go to. Their toum/sauce seems more creamy and opaque than regular toum. Do you think they add mayo or egg white? Also, it had little pieces of herbs and vegetables. I’m thinking parsley for the herbs but not sure about the other little chunks. If you have any ideas, I would appreciate it!

  9. I got the right texture but it’s incredibly bitter! So bitter it’s inedible. What did I do wrong or anything I can do to salvage it?

  10. This turned out amazing. The key to this recipe is patience. Don’t try to rush anything, take it slow. I took it a step further with my next batch. I added 2 tsp of Italian Seasoning and took it to a new level. I have both versions in my fridge and can’t stop eating this stuff. I keep spreading it on pita bread. When I run out of pita bread, I am just going to eat it with a spoon. Ok,I already tried that and it was delicious also. Us greeks have a version of this called Skordalia, which also contains potatoes. I prefer this by far over the Skordalia.

      1. Are we supposed to add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice at a time or 1 tablespoon? In the video the spoons you use for the salt and lemon juice appear to be different sizes. I’m wondering because this recipe often comes apart at the very end, which is frustrating. But I’m wondering if it’s because I’m not adding enough lemon juice.

        Thanks

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