Black Garlic

Part of the Food Talk series

Black garlic heads in papery skins and peeled black garlic cloves

Let’s talk about black garlic…

I love discovering new healthy ingredients. Before I first read Dr. William Li’s Eat to Beat Disease a couple of years ago, I hadn’t heard of black garlic. Now I see it popping up on menus, in recipes, and news articles. Reading that book led to me order this ingredient just out of culinary curiosity. This was probably my favorite food discovery that year! I now use it near daily in my kitchen.

What is Black Garlic?

Black, or aged, garlic, is garlic that goes through a Maillard reaction (a non-enzymatic browning of food caused by the reaction between reducing sugars and proteins by the impact of heat) over a period of time under controlled heat and moisture conditions until is turns soft and very dark in color.  This process causes changes in the garlic that give it a different flavor and some different health benefits from regular garlic. (Note: regular garlic is also wonderful for you so keep eating it too!)

Health Benefits of Black Garlic

  • boosts immune system (though maybe not as much as regular garlic at least according to one study- use both- variety is a good thing!)
  • may help regulate insulin and blood sugar levels
  • has more antioxidants than regular garlic
  • is good for the brain
  • is anti-inflammatory
  • improves heart health
  • may help with maintaining a healthy weight
  • is a prebiotic

Other Reason Why I Love it!

It has an almost balsamic, caramel quality that adds a little something special to your cooking. Also, it doesn’t stay on your breath like regular garlic. I still love regular garlic and it too has many many great heath properties, but for some uses, black garlic is my choice. I try to eat it several time a week, if not daily. Due to that balsamic quality, it goes really well in homemade salad dressing, or topping a pizza. I also love how it mingles so well in Greek yogurt sauces. For added flavor depth, I like to combine black and regular garlic in sautéed veggies. My favorite surprising use of black garlic is in chocolate cake! When combined with chocolate, it adds flavor depth and a smoky quality.

My Go-To Black Garlic

My go to brand is Black Garlic North America . It comes in the papery skins or a large jar of just cloves. The jar of peeled cloves is very price and time efficient, and so it is what I typically order.

When mincing black garlic, I like to use a rocker press as opposed to the more traditional garlic press that I prefer for regular garlic. The rocker keeps the pieces small as opposed to the long strings aged black garlic will form with a traditional press.

Looking for a recipe that uses black garlic?

Chicken, vegetable, and black garlic yogurt in blue shallow bowl with sourdough bread on side


Ryu JH, Kang D. Physicochemical Properties, Biological Activity, Health Benefits, and General Limitations of Aged Black Garlic: A Review. Molecules. 2017 Jun 1;22(6):919. doi: 10.3390/molecules22060919. PMID: 28587168; PMCID: PMC6152780.    

Ahmed T, Wang CK. Black Garlic and Its Bioactive Compounds on Human Health Diseases: A Review. Molecules. 2021 Aug 19;26(16):5028. doi: 10.3390/molecules26165028. PMID: 34443625; PMCID: PMC8401630.

Sunanta P, Kontogiorgos V, Pankasemsuk T, Jantanasakulwong K, Rachtanapun P, Seesuriyachan P, Sommano SR. The nutritional value, bioactive availability and functional properties of garlic and its related products during processing. Front Nutr. 2023 Jul 25;10:1142784. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1142784. PMID: 37560057; PMCID: PMC10409574.

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