Best Spread Ever: Oven Roasted Garlic

I believe the title says it all: oven roasted garlic is truly the best spread ever. In just a few simple steps, you can make yourself a soft, caramelized, not-quite-so-pungent spreadable garlic.

Way back in my retail days (well, I'm still in retail, but I'm referring to being on the sales floor) there was a run on terra-cotta garlic roasters. They look like little domes with a small dish whose lip comes up and around the bottom of the dome. You put a whole head of garlic in the dish, with the tops and ends trimmed off, added some salt and olive oil, covered it with the dome and put it in the oven. In about an hour, you had yourself some nicely roasted garlic cloves.

Coming from a family where Gran Fran was pretty much against any kitchen gadget except for her Kitchen-Aid mixer, this little device was a hard sell for me. It was the early '90's when cooking was just becoming a spectator sport. The Food Network was still showing old Julia Child episodes, no superstar chefs were jamming the airwaves yet.

When a box of garlic roasters landed in front of me to be unpacked and shelved, I heard Gran Fran in my head with the following words of wisdom:

"What's the point of this? Why can't you just take a bit of aluminum foil, make a pouch out of it and roast the garlic in there? It's good enough for me...And, you never know with the terra-cotta how to get them as clean as possible. They hold germs, you know? Salmonella, botulism, who knows what else? I'll stick with my foil, thank you very much."

I had to agree. And continue to agree. Over the years I've had some bad roasted garlic (not enough oil to keep the cloves moist) and some stellar ones (see the pictures above and below). Foil is your friend, as well as a hot oven. Actually, you could do low and slow roasting for a very long time, but I just don't have that kind of time to be in the house with the oven on, so I choose to do mine on a higher temperature, always keeping an eye and a nostril out for burning.

Enjoy this roasted garlic on pasta, with roasted veggies, as a base on your pizza crust before you put the sauce on, or as I did, on toast with anchovies on top. And make sure to use the olive oil you cooked the garlic in, it's very flavorful.

If you love garlic and live our here in the Bay Area of California, you can stop by the Gilroy Garlic Festival in late July.

Roasted Garlic


  • 1 large head fresh garlic, top and ends cut off
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Take a large piece of aluminum foil and place the garlic in the center.
  3. Pick up the foil, placing the bulb in your hand so that the foil creates a pouch.
  4. Add the oil and salt and seal the packet at the top by twisting the foil over itself.
  5. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
  6. Be careful opening up the pouch, there will be some steam.Remove the now softened garlic from the aluminum foil.
  7. Once it has cooled enough to work with, push the garlic out of its skin.
  8. The roasted garlic can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week.