Creamy, dreamy, and full of zippy flavor, my simple recipe for Lebanese Garlic Dip (a.k.a. Toum) is made for garlic lovers and vampire fighters alike. Despite having a texture similar to aioli, it’s actually naturally vegan and gluten-free to boot! Made with just 5 ingredients (one of which is water) in 5 minutes, this tasty Mediterranean garlic sauce is about to transform your life for the better.
Why This Sauce Is The Boss
As a member of a Lebanese family, this Lebanese garlic sauce recipe gets made a LOT at our house. Toum is to Lebanese people like ketchup is to Americans — it’s ubiquitous! (Oh, and it’s also delicious to dip your fries in or to squirt on your hot dogs and burgers. Just sayin’.)
In addition to being one of my ALL-TIME FAVORITE condiments, this whipped garlic spread:
- Uses Only 5 Main Ingredients. All you need is oil, garlic, lemon, salt, and water. So simple, so creamy, so incredible!
- Is Budget-Friendly. Even with grocery prices going totally nuts right now, I can get 2 heads of garlic and a lemon for less than a buck. Add in some salt and neutral oil and you’re still looking at less than $2 for a big ol’ batch. I don’t think there’s a single bottled condiment you can buy at the store that is as versatile as this Lebanese garlic sauce for that little!
- Is Super Versatile. I can’t think of a single savory thing that this garlic dip doesn’t pair nicely with. Potatoes, meat, chips, pita, veggies, grains, sandwiches, wraps, you name it! Once you make a batch you’ll see what I mean.
- And Is Perfect For Meal-Prep. It lasts a whopping 2 weeks in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer, so you can make a batch and score the benefits for days to come.
Garlic Dip Ingredients
Making garlic sauce Lebanese-style requires just 5 (!!!) simple ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Garlic Cloves - In all, you’ll need about 2 heads of garlic.
- Lemon - Don’t mess with bottled juice here. You’re going to want the bright, fresh flavor of real lemon. To get the most juice from your fruit, give it a firm roll on the counter for 10-15 seconds before cutting open.
- Salt - I use kosher salt almost exclusively. If you’re using a different type of salt, consult this handy-dandy conversion chart for proper measurement.
- Vegetable Oil - Any type of neutral oil will work here including corn, canola, grapeseed, or peanut.
- Ice Water - Fill a large glass with ice and pour in your water to let it really chill before incorporating. You want it to be frosty for it to do its job!
You only need one piece of equipment to make this tasty garlic whip:
- Food Processor Fitted With The Blade Attachment - The trick to making any sort of emulsification like toum or mayo is *slowly* incorporating the oil into the water mixture. The easiest way to do it is in a food processor, though you can also swap in a powerful blender like a Vitamix if needed.
How To Make Lebanese Garlic Sauce
Making this simple garlic dip recipe is a snap. Here’s how it’s done:
Step 1: Garlic & Water. Fill a ½ cup measuring cup with about 2 heads of garlic worth of peeled cloves and then fill it the rest of the way with water.
Step 2: Pulse. Add the water + garlic cloves to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Step 3: Add Lemon & Salt. Add in the juice of a lemon and a pinch of salt. Put the lid back on and start the processor.
Step 4: Emulsify. With the processor running, slowly stream in the oil. Slowly is the key word here! It should take about 2-3 minutes to go through all the oil. During this time it should begin to turn opaque white and become gelatinous.
Step 5: Taste. Stop and give it a taste, if it burns the tongue immediately with pungent garlic spiciness, stream in some more oil to taste.
Step 6: Add Ice Water. Once it tastes balanced between garlicky and creamy, turn the food processor back on and add in a couple of tablespoons of ice water to really turn it thick and fluffy.
Step 7: Serve or Store. Your toum garlic sauce is ready to use. You can also store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!
Swaps & Substitutions
→ I couldn’t think of any applicable swaps here that I didn’t cover under the ingredients heading. Feel free to dash off any ideas that I missed and I’ll add them!
FAQs & Tips
What is the best way to easily peel garlic? If you don’t want to deal with peeling garlic, you can always buy it pre-peeled in a bag at the store. That said, there are a few methods to peel your own garlic heads to help keep your costs down.
By far the most effective method is separating the head into individual cloves, then using the broad side of your chef’s knife to squish the clove, effectively loosening the skin so you can easily peel it off.
The other option is to separate the head into cloves, then place them in a metal bowl with another metal bowl domed over the top. Shake like the dickens for 1-2 minutes, and the cloves should release themselves from the skin.
Is toum different from garlic mayo? While their consistency is quite similar (they both emulsify water and oil together), mayonnaise uses egg yolks as the emulsifier whereas toum uses garlic.
You can always add LOTS of minced garlic to pre-made mayo for a relatively similar flavor, but toum is actually vegan whereas most mayonnaise or aioli recipes are not.
How do you know if garlic is fresh? If properly stored, heads of garlic can last upwards of 6 months. So, what’s the secret to knowing if it is good to eat? Once it is peeled, you’ll have a good idea. It should have a smooth, unblemished white surface. The cloves should feel firm to the touch. Depending on how old the garlic is, you may be able to cut off any offending parts of the clove and proceed. Also, avoid garlic that has sprouted.
How do you pronounce toum? Like the English word tomb, or “toom.”
Storage: Once whipped, this tasty Lebanese garlic sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Freezing: Garlic toum can easily be frozen for up to 3 months. I suggest freezing it in ice cube trays so you can easily pop out exactly the amount you need as you need it.
Pro Tip: If you plan on freezing savory food items like this middle eastern garlic sauce or leftover herbs in ice cube trays, I suggest you get a SEPARATE silicone ice cube tray for just that purpose, or you’ll risk whatever leftover scents and flavors seeping into your ice. I don’t know about you, but garlic ice doesn’t sound great!
Perhaps the most well-known use of toum in the USA is as the garlic sauce for shawarma. That said, this downright craveable condiment also goes great on:
- Grilled Meats
- Roasted Veggies
- French Fries, Tater Tots, or Potato Chips (or the sweet potato versions of any of those!)
- Pizzas & Calzones
- Sandwiches, Wraps, & Burgers
- As a Dip for Crudités
- As a Base for Salad Dressings
- Used as a Marinade for Meats
Did you come up with a genius way to use Lebanese toum that the world should know about? Let me know about it in the comments below or by tagging me in your social media posts so I can cheer you on!
More Tasty Condiment Recipes
If you tried my recipe for the Lebanese Garlic Dip known as Toum, please let me know how it turned out by rating and reviewing it below!
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- ½ cup peeled garlic cloves
- ¼ cup water
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- up to ½ cup of ice water
- 2 cups of vegetable oil
- Fill a ½ measuring cup with about 2 heads of garlic worth of cloves and then fill the cup up with water
- Add the water + garlic cloves to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Add in the juice of a lemon and pinch of salt.
- Put the lid back on and place the lid back on.
- Slowly stream in the oil, this is the key! It should take about 2-3 minutes to go through all the oil.
- During this time it should begin to turn opaque white and become gelatinous.
- Stop and give it a taste, if it burns the tongue immediately, stream in some more oil.
- Once it gets to this point, turn the food processor back on and add in a couple of tablespoons of ice water to really turn it thick and fluffy.
- Store it in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks!