Calling all garlic lovers! We are making smoked garlic right in the backyard. This guide will lead you through creating tender smoked garlic cloves using peeled (or even pre-peeled) cloves. Easily infusing your next culinary creations with a smoky twist and essentially making smoked garlic confit!
This is a fun variation on the classic roasted garlic recipe. It's perfect for stirring into pasta, coating baked potatoes, drizzling over vegetables, mashing into a savory spread, or elevating a simple slice of toasted Italian bread.
A lineup of the good stuff – We used pre-peeled garlic cloves, but you can easily peel your own, and enough olive oil to cover our garlic. We added some fresh thyme to jazz it all up. If you're feeling spicy, throw in a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to get that extra spicy kick.
- Fresh Garlic Bulbs or Cloves: You can buy regular garlic heads and peel them yourselves, or save time and buy pre-peeled individual cloves.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: To completely cover your garlic.
- Fresh Thyme: To add an herbaceous brightness upon finishing.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (optional): For those who crave a spicy kick.
- Wood Chips or Pellets: Hickory wood is a fantastic choice for a deep, robust flavor.
See the recipe card for quantities and the full instructions all in one place.
- Small, Shallow Cast Iron Pot: Ideal for even smoking and heat distribution.
- Smoker: For precise temperature control and smoke infusion we prefer a pellet smoker like a Traeger, Camp Chef, or Green Mountain, but any smoker will work!
- Pellet or Wood Chunks: the kind of pellets is up to you, but we prefer hickory for this recipe.
- Glass Jar: For refrigerated storage, keep the garlic fresh.
- Ice Cube Tray: Optional - To freeze individual portions of smoked garlic for future use.
While we used our Camp Chef Pellet Smoker for this recipe, remember any smoker will do! Just be mindful of the temperature fluctuations and try your best to keep it consistent.
Step 1: Get your smoker prepped and preheated to 225 degrees.
Step 2: Cover your peeled garlic in olive oil in an oven-safe dish like a small cast iron skillet or bowl.
Step 3: Transfer to your preheated smoker and smoke for two hours. Halfway through your smoking process (about an hour) give it a mix.
Step 4: Once the garlic is tender and can easily be smushed, it's done. You can add your thyme and red pepper flake now if desired.
Substitutions & Variations
Taking a recipe and adjusting it is part of life. Each tweak and twist in the recipe offers a unique way to customize the flavors, catering to your palate or the ingredients you have on hand.
- Different Wood Flavors: If hickory isn’t your thing or simply not on hand, other wood chips like apple or mesquite can provide a new dimension of smoky flavor.
- Whole Garlic Bulbs: Following the same time and temperatures as this smoked garlic recipe, but the instructions of our classic roasted garlic recipe. You get a more intense garlic flavor, without all the olive oil. Feel free to also experiment with varieties of garlic. Millder elephant garlic or even your garlic is grown in the garden. Each bulb of garlic will bring its unique flavor profile to the mix.
- Spicy Kick: For those who favor a bit of heat, try a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes. It can offer a spicy contrast to the smoky, mellow sweetness of the garlic. If you've opted out of the red pepper flakes but still desire a bit of heat, consider a dash of cayenne pepper or a spoonful of your favorite hot sauce mixed in with the olive oil after smoking.
- Herb Infused: Adding fresh thyme, rosemary, or a mix of both when pulling off the garlic from the smoker introduces an earthy layer of flavor to the recipe. Plus, It pairs beautifully with the natural sweetness of the garlic.
Ways to Use Your Smoked Garlic
Here are some of my family's favorite recipes that we love to utilize our smoked garlic in, adding an extra smoky twist.
Once smoked, your garlic cloves should be stored properly:
- Cooling: Allow the garlic to cool completely to avoid condensation when storing, which can lead to mold.
- Airtight Containers: Use these for fridge storage to keep the garlic fresh and prevent contamination.
- Labeling: Date your containers. Smoked garlic doesn't have a long shelf life. In the fridge, use it for 3-5 days; in the freezer, it'll last several months.
One of the most significant food safety concerns with garlic is the risk of botulism, especially when stored in oil. The bacteria, Clostridium botulinum, thrives in oxygen-free environments, like a jar of oil.
- Refrigeration: Separate the garlic from the oil, and store both separately in the refrigerator to slow bacterial growth.
- Freezing: For longer storage, freezing smoked garlic is a fantastic option. This halts bacterial growth and keeps your garlic safe for months.
- Signs of Spoilage: If you notice any off-odors, discoloration, or mold, in the garlic or the remaining oil, discard and make a new batch!
More Pellet Smoker Ideas
While you've got that smoker fired up, here are some of our recommendations for more smoker recipes to try at the same time!
Once cooled, store your smoked garlic in a small bowl or Ziplock bag, and keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week. For longer storage, place the cloves in a freezer-safe bag and freeze them. This is a great way to have smoked garlic on hand for the next time you want to add a unique twist to your dishes.
Yes, smoked garlic can be a fantastic substitute for normal garlic, adding a unique twist to your favorite recipes. It works exceptionally well in dishes that benefit from a deep, smoky flavor. For instance, incorporating it into a garlic sauce, garlic pasta, or even a simple roast garlic recipe can take these dishes to the next level. Just keep in mind that smoked garlic has a richer flavor, so you may want to adjust the amounts to suit your taste buds.
Easy Smoked Garlic
- 2 cups Olive Oil - or enough to cover
- 6 oz Peeled Garlic Cloves
- 3 stems Fresh Thyme
- 1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes - optional
- Get your smoker prepped and preheated to 225 degrees.
- Cover your peeled garlic in olive oil in an oven-safe dish like a small cast iron skillet or bowl.
- Transfer to your preheated smoker and smoke for one hour. Halfway through your smoking process mix, and smoke again for another hour.
- Once the garlic is tender and easily smushed, add your thyme and red pepper flake if desired.
- Smoking Time: Keep an eye on the garlic during smoking. Depending on your smoker and the size of the cloves, times may vary slightly.
- Flavor Variations: Feel free to experiment with different woods for smoking. Each type of wood chip imparts a unique flavor profile.
- Storing: Smoked garlic can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or frozen in ice cube trays for easy, portion-sized use in future recipes.
- Spice Level: Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper flakes based on your heat preference. Omit if you prefer a milder flavor.
- Oil Usage: Feel free to change up oils by using sunflower or avocado oils.
- Freshness: Fresh, high-quality garlic will yield the best results. Look for firm, plump cloves.
- Herb Alternatives: While thyme is recommended, other herbs like rosemary or oregano can also complement the smoky flavor.
- Safety First: Always practice food safety, especially when storing smoked garlic in oil to prevent the risk of botulism.