This Lebanese garlic sauce recipe, or "toum," is an emulsified white paste made with fresh garlic cloves, lemon juice, oil, and salt.
The star of every barbecue gathering we host in Lebanon has got to be this creamy garlic sauce. Pronounced as TOOM, this dip-style condiment bursts with flavor and adds a tangy twist to barbecued chicken and meat.
This creamy sauce has a reputation to be complex because of the emulsification process. The step by step guide explains exactly how to make homemade toum and tips to get a fluffy garlic sauce.
What I Love About This Recipe
This creamy Lebanese garlic sauce is perfect for garlic lovers. Whipped toum has a fluffy texture and a tangy flavor that adds so much flavor to any kind of grilled or roasted meat. This toum sauce recipe makes a large batch that can store in the fridge for up to a month, so you have toum for a whole month!
- Garlic: This Lebanese garlic dip calls for a ton of garlic, but the amount can always be adjusted based on how intense you want your sauce to be. Use fresh whole heads of garlic.
- Vegetable Oil: Canola oil works great here, but you can use any other neutral oil like vegetable oil, sunflower oil, or corn oil. Olive oil does not work well for this garlic sauce because of its strong flavor.
- Salt: Just a pinch helps to bind all the flavors together. Use kosher salt, sea salt, or flaked salt.
- Lemon Juice: This gives the garlic paste a beautiful white color, and balances the flavor. The acidity from the lemon causes emulsification. Use fresh lemon juice.
How To Make Lebanese Garlic Sauce
Squeeze the lemon. Measure out the oil. Put the oil and lemon juice in separate cups that can easily pour into the spout opening of the food processor.
Peel the garlic. Cut the ends off and remove the green germ (or green sprout). Add the garlic cloves to the blender with some salt. Pulse on high.
Scrape down the sides of the food processor. Turn the food processor on while slowly pouring the oil into a thin stream, alternating with the lemon juice. This is a long process and should take about 10 minutes.
The garlic will emulsify into a creamy thick paste. If the garlic is not emulsifying, check the tips section for what to do.
Scoop the toum garlic sauce from the food processor into a bowl or airtight container.
Tips and Tricks
- Take your time with it. If you pour the oil or lemon juice into the blender super quickly, the mixture won't emulsify, and you'll end up with a watery texture. A key tip is to add the garlic and salt into the food processor and whizz them up until the garlic is well minced. Then start alternating between the oil and lemon juice for 5 to 10 minutes. Don't rush the process.
- If your toum is not emulsifying, there are two tips to fix it. If the food processor is heating up, the mixture may be overheating as it's being processed. Stick the food processor bowl in the freezer for about 5 to 10 minutes to cool the mixture down. Tip two, if the toum is still not emulsifying (how frustrating!) add two egg whites. If using egg, it will affect the storage length of the toum (don't exceed 5 days).
- No cornstarch or other thickeners are used for this recipe. The key for successful emulsification is the correct ratios and slowly alternating between the oil and lemon juice.
- Use the freshest garlic. This makes a world of difference regarding how the sauce tastes at the end. So make sure to pick up garlic from the store a day before you need to make a big batch of this recipe.
- Olive oil doesn't work for this recipe due to its strong flavor.
- Always use fresh lemon juice rather than bottled or ready-packed versions when making this sauce.
This creamy spread can last for up to a month if refrigerated in an airtight container (unless you use egg white). If using egg white, store for up to 5 days. After a month, its freshness might be affected, so make sure to use it up before it goes bad.
- A good knife
- Food processor or blender
- Airtight container
If your toum is not emulsifying (thickening up), and you have added all of the oil, do these two things to salvage it. Stick the runny toum in the freezer for about 10 minutes to cool off. Maybe the mixture has overheated due to a hot food processor. Second, add two egg whites to mixture. Turn the food processor on high and wait for about 4 to 5 minutes. If it's still runny, stick it back in the freezer for another 10 minutes and then process again for 5 minutes.
The key to the perfect emulsification is slowly alternating the oil and lemon juice by adding it in a thin stream. In the beginning, start the emulsification off on the right foot by not pouring too much oil in.
The process by which this garlic sauce thickens is called emulsification. The acidic lemon juice suspends the fat particles and creates a thick garlic paste.
What To Serve With Toum
We like to put a little bit of it on everything really. The sauce is also often used as a dip. It goes amazingly well with grilled chicken kabobs, chicken wings, batata harra, and mighty homemade fries. It's an integral part of the Lebanese mezze culture which includes popular dishes like tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, hummus, and fattoush to name a few.
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Lebanese Garlic Sauce Recipe (Toum)
- 3 cups vegetable oil
- 1 cup garlic cloves green germ removed
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Peel the cloves of garlic, remove splinters, and the green germ inside each clove.
- Place the garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse until they're minced.
- Add the salt and pulse a little more.
- Slowly start adding the oil and lemon juice in intervals (pulse for a few minutes between each addition).
- Keep pulsing until you're done adding all the oil and lemon juice.
- You'll have a soft but emulsified white paste that's ready to serve.
- Serve and sahtein!
- The sauce keeps for up to month if refrigerated in an airtight container.