I know many home chefs that use store bought garlic paste as a way to flavor sauces, soups, pestos, etc. However, I am here to tell you that Homemade Garlic Paste is an infinitely better option.
Making garlic paste from scratch is a wonderful alternative to buying it for 3 reasons:
- It's way more flavorful and fresh-tasting than the store-bought kind.
- No artificial-tasing preservatives. I never buy garlic paste or pre-chopped garlic because it always tastes... "chemical". I understand that people use the store-bought kind for its convenience, but there's another way- making garlic paste yourself!
- It's convenient! Make a big batch, and freeze small portions of it for later.
The absolute best thing about making garlic paste at home is that you control what goes into it. No need to add strange-tasing preservatives to make it shelf-stable. Just common household preservatives like oil and fresh lemon juice.
My version has parsley, which is not traditional. But incorporating the parsley is a great way to also add fresh herbs to your home-cooked meals even if you don't have them on hand.
And as far as convenience goes, I highly recommend freezing it in ice cube trays for later use... almost as convenient as going to the store to buy it.
This garlic paste recipe is actually very similar to a pesto. It has many of the same ingredients, but with a heavier concentration of garlic. You can get my pesto guide here.
How to Make Garlic Paste
This recipe relies on a 5 delicious ingredients that create a ton of flavor.
- Sunflower Seeds or Pine Nuts
- Olive Oil
- Lemon juice
See recipe card for quantities.
- Combine garlic, lemon, parsley, and sunflower seeds in a food processor and pulse a few times.
- Slowly stream in the olive oil until a paste forms.
Hint: If you don't have a food processor, you can surely use a good chef's knife to finely chop all the ingredients.
Aside from the garlic, you can substitute most of the ingredients in this homemade garlic paste recipe to use what you have on hand.
- Parsley - though I absolutely love the taste of fresh parsley, you can either leave it out to achieve a more pure garlic taste, or replace it with a different herb such as basil.
- Sunflower Seeds - Sunflower seeds help thicken the mixture and turn it into a paste. But if you're allergic to seeds, you can use pine nuts instead.
- Olive oil- though I love the taste of olive oil in almost everything I cook, you can use a flavorless oil instead such as avocado oil or sunflower oil.
Variations on this Garlic Paste Recipe
Want to spice things up? Change the main flavor profile? No worries! There are many ways you can get creative when making garlic paste.
- Spicy - add a teaspoon of chopped Calabrian chili peppers to the food processor to make the garlic paste spicy. You can use this to add both garlicky and spicy elements to a pasta sauce or even mixed into compound butters.
- Garlic Ginger paste - add a 1 inch piece of ginger to the food processor to combine the delicious flavors of ginger and garlic. They work so well together.
Making garlic paste is so straight forward, and it requires kitchen tools most home cooks own. If you don't yet own one of these, I recommend purchasing one! They will help streamline a lot of your cooking.
A Food Processor- I didn't own a food processor when I first started cooking. Partially because they're big and can be a pain to clean. BUT I feel this Cuisinart 8-cup processor is absolutely worth it. I use it to make large batches of many other paste-like foods such as, pesto, pestata, and some salsas.
A Chef's Knife- even if you're using a food processor to make this recipe, a chef's knife will help you peel the garlic cloves. It really streamlines most recipes I make at home. I use mine for almost every kitchen cutting task. I use this Wustoff 8 inch Chef's Knife.
Storing your Homemade Garlic Paste
There are two primary ways to store it.
If storing the entire batch in the refrigerator, place the homemade garlic paste in a jar and top with ¼ inch of olive oil. The olive oil will help protect the garlic paste from oxygen and bacteria that may get in the jar.
Use this method if you plan on using it within 2 weeks.
Freezing the garlic paste in pre-portioned segments via an ice cube tray is my favorite method. It will keep for months, so you'll always have flavorful, herbaceous Homemade Garlic Paste on hand.
Just spoon 1-2 tablespoons of garlic paste into each ice cube mold and cover tightly with plastic wrap.
Use a cube of frozen garlic paste to replace the garlic in virtually any pasta sauce such as bolognese or my Red Wine Ragù.
Garlic Paste RecipePrint
This homemade garlic paste also includes the bright fresh flavors of parsley and lemon. It's so easy to make and will last several weeks in the fridge and even longer in the freezer.
- 2 heads of garlic, peeled (about 20 cloves)
- The juice of half a lemon
- 1 bunch of parsley, stems removed
- ⅓ cup of sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- Place the garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and sunflower seeds in the food processor. Pulse a few times to chop it all up.
- Set food processor to low and slowly stream in the olive oil. Only use enough olive oil to turn the mixture into a paste, right before it becomes a liquid.
- Set food processor to high and process for 60 seconds.
- Store in a jar topped with olive oil or in the freezer in ice cube trays.
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