Lebanese Garlic Sauce (Toum)
Toum is a Lebanese garlic sauce made with just 4 simple ingredients! It’s easy to make because the sauce comes together in a food processor and lasts for months in the fridge!
Today I’m bringing you one of my all-time favorite condiments – a homemade garlic sauce recipe. My toum recipe has only 4 pantry staple ingredients and it uses only the freshest garlic! The creaminess and texture is similar to mayonnaise but this sauce is completely vegan and gluten-free.
We’re BIG on garlic in this house (I’m sure that’s not shocking if you’re a long-time reader!) It’s easy to see why we’ve always got large batches of homemade toum sauce tucked away in the refrigerator. It’s the perfect condiment to spread on a roast beef or turkey sandwich, or to serve with rotisserie chicken, chicken shawarma in pita bread, beef shawarma bowls, grilled chicken kebabs, or shish tawook, amongst so many others!
You know how some people dip their fries in mayonnaise? Well, I’m the kind that dips their fries in homemade toum; and let me tell you, it’s addictive!
Calories shmalories when it comes to garlic sauce; right?
What is toum sauce?
Toum, toumya, or salsat toum is a homemade garlic sauce that is typically made with peeled garlic cloves, salt, lemon juice, and oil. Instead of using an egg, like in traditional mayonnaise recipes, the garlic cloves act as a stabilizer. Toum is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle by breaking down the garlic and salt into a smooth paste.
Ingredients for Toum (Lebanese garlic sauce)
- Garlic Cloves: You’ll need a ton of fresh garlic for this recipe! Unfortunately, jarred garlic is not a good substitute for fresh garlic as it doesn’t pack the same flavor punch. For best results I suggest using whole heads of garlic, peeling, and removing the garlic germ from the center (it’s the green portion in the very center of the clove) using a small paring knife. More on that in a second. You can also find peeled garlic in the refrigerated produce section of most grocery stores these days.
- Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice and oil are alternated to create an oil and lemon juice emulsion. Lemons give the sauce just a hint of tang and help increase the shelf life. Once you pulse the garlic with salt in a food processor, you slowly add in the lemon juice alternating with oil until the condiment comes together.
- Kosher Salt: kosher salt is used to flavor the sauce and it’s also used as a preservative. A teaspoon of kosher salt will sound like a lot but trust me, once the emulsion is created, you’ll notice it has the perfect flavor.
- Oil: You’ll want to use a neutral, colorless, flavorless oil such as canola oil for this recipe. Sunflower, safflower, vegetable, and corn oil will also work well. I used a dark green grapeseed oil the first time I made Lebanese garlic sauce, and let’s just say it was a mistake! It gave my sauce a very unappealing green tinge.
How to make toum in your food processor.
- Garlic, Garlic, Garlic! Pulse 1/2 cup of garlic cloves and salt together in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. The amount of garlic might seem like a lot, but trust me, with how much oil we’re adding you’ll need it. This recipe makes close to 2 cups of sauce. It’s very important to use a food processor that has an opening at the top so you can slowly stream in the oil and lemon juice. Once the garlic is minced, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. If the food processor is very hot, give it a few minutes to cool down before proceeding. You can also pop the whole food processor bowl, blade, and garlic mixture into the fridge for a few minutes!
- Make an emulsion. Start the food processor and slowly stream in 1/4 cup of oil. Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides. You want to alternate between the oil and the lemon juice. Once you’ve added 1/4 cup of oil, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Take your time here and do this in a stready stream. Adding too much oil at once can cause the sauce to break. Then switch back to the oil, followed by the lemon juice, more oil, more lemon juice, and finally the last bit of oil. When the garlic sauce is done. Scrape the sauce into a bowl or a glass jar. Cover and refrigerate the sauce and allow it to cool down before serving. I find freshly made sauce packs quite a bit of heat with the garlic, so it’s best to serve the sauce on day 2.
FAQs about homemade garlic sauce:
- How do you remove the garlic germ? When you cut the garlic clove in half the center contains the ‘germ.’ If it’s young garlic, the germ is a pale yellow, but as the garlic ages, the germ turns green. It’s important to remove this little sprout before making toum because it may cause the sauce to have a bitter taste. Over time, it will give homemade toum a green hue as well.
- Does this have a harsh garlic flavor? I find if you eat this the same day you make it, it’s way more garlicky than if you eat it on day 2 or 3 (and so on.) I usually prefer to make the sauce at least a day in advance.
- What type of oil do you recommend using? You want to use a colorless, flavorless neutral oil such as canola, vegetable, sunflower, or safflower oil. I used grapeseed oil that had a pretty deep green color to it the first time and it gave my toum a light green tinge. So I would steer clear of colored oils!
- How long will prepared toum last in the fridge? Homemade toum will last at least 3 months if kept in an airtight container in the fridge. I prefer to store toum in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Troubleshooting, what if my sauce is too thin? Sometimes if the food processor starts to get too hot as you’re streaming in the liquids, the sauce can become too thin. If you find this happens to you, the next time you make the sauce, I suggest allowing the food processor to cool down completely before creating the emulsion with lemon juice and oil. You can also add in an ice cube and let it melt into the sauce slowly while you stream the lemon juice and oil. As it melts, the ice water should help cool down the food processor blade a bit.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- 20-Minute Greek Gyros
- Easy Chicken Gyros with French Fries
- Easy Persian Chicken Kebabs
- The Best Homemade Falafel Recipe
- Greek Chicken Souvlaki Bowls
- Beef Shawarma Bowls with Vermicelli Pasta Rice
- ½ cup garlic cloves (slice down the center and remove green germ)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ cups colorless oil (such as sunflower)
- GARLIC: Pulse the garlic and salt together in the food processor until very finely minced. Scrape down the sides and up the bowl. Run the food processor while adding ¼ cup oil in a slow, steady stream.
- EMULSION: Stop the food processor and scrape down the bowl one last time. Then run the food processor while you add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice very slowly. Alternate between these two ingredients making sure to add in a slow and steady stream. Add in ½ cup of oil, followed by 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Then add ¼ cup of oil, the last tablespoon of lemon juice, and finally the remaining ½ cup of oil.
- REFRIGERATE: Transfer the garlic sauce to a bowl or glass mason jar, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 months. The garlic sauce will lose its garlicky flavor the longer it sits so I usually try to use it within 1 month. The sauce can be consumed immediately or after refrigeration. I find that it tastes better the day after you make it.