The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat garlic. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What garlic etiquette is

Garlic etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat garlic. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve garlic to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat garlic at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat garlic

What you should know about garlic

Garlic is a plant from the Allium family. Onions, leeks, and shallots belong to the same plant family.

The bulb of the garlic plant is the edible part. It is commonly used for cooking and medicinal purposes. Garlic bulbs are typically white or off-white in color. A papery skin covers individual cloves. The cloves are firm in texture and pungent and sulfurous in flavor.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat garlic

1) How to store garlic

Store garlic in a cool and dry place, with good ventilation, far from sources of heat and direct light. The ideal storing temperature is between 16°C and 18°C (60°F and 65°F). In the pantry, store garlic in a mesh bag or a perforated paper bag. It can last for about 1 or 2 months.

In the fridge, store garlic either in an open container or in a sealed container. It can last for up to 2 to 3 months.

You can also freeze garlic, either chopped or whole. Place it in an airtight container or freezer bag. If properly stored, it can last for up to 6 months.

Store sliced or cooked garlic in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can last for up to a week.

2) How to clean garlic

To clean garlic, remove the outer papery skin first. Then, trim the root end. You can also quickly rinse the cloves under cool running water.

Garlic that has turned bad will have a soft and mushy texture, a foul smell, and signs of mold.

3) How to cook garlic

Garlic can be eaten raw or cooked.

Some of the most common ways to cook garlic include roasting, sautéing, frying, and grilling. Garlic is a popular ingredient in many dishes. Such as pasta, pizza, soups, stews, and stir-fries. You can also add garlic to salads and sandwiches.

4) How to serve & present garlic

Garlic is appropriate for both formal and informal meals. You can serve it in a variety of courses and dishes, such as appetizers, main courses, and side dishes.

You can serve garlic in a small bowl or on a small plate. Present it with a garlic press or a small knife for guests to use. It is best to serve garlic at room temperature.

5) Food and wine to pair garlic with

Garlic pairs well with a variety of seasonings and accompaniments, such as olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.

The aroma of garlic pairs well with many vegetables, such as tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and eggplant. It can also go well with the flavor of apples and pears.

Garlic can pair well with cheese and dairy. In particular, in dishes like garlic bread and cheesy garlic dip. Some popular cheese pairings include Parmesan, Gouda, and Feta.

You can add garlic to meat dishes, such as beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. It can also pair well with fish. However, it is best to avoid it with delicate and mild-flavored fish.

Garlic can pair well with many wines. Red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. White wines like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Avoid pairing it with sweet wines like Moscato or port.

6) How to eat garlic

When eating garlic, it is polite to use a small knife or fork to remove individual cloves from the bulb. In general, eating garlic with your fingers is not polite. Before eating garlic, discard the papery skin covering individual cloves.

When garlic is served in a dish, you can discard it if you dislike it. Simply place it on the side of your plate.

Garlic etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common garlic etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Serving or eating garlic in excess, as the strong flavor and odor can be overpowering for the other guests.

Additional information for properly serving garlic

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Garlic is a low-calorie food. Raw garlic contains about 149 calories per 100 grams. A single clove of garlic contains about 4 calories.

How to buy the best garlic

A crucial factor in garlic etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Garlic is available year-round. The best season to buy garlic may depend on the region. In the northern hemisphere, garlic is typically harvested in late summer or early fall.

Choose the best

Garlic can be found in various forms in commerce. Such as fresh, canned, jarred, powdered, and minced.

There are many varieties of garlic available. The most popular are:

  • Rocambole garlic: strong and rich flavor, with a complex aroma.
  • Porcelain garlic: mild and sweet flavor, particularly good for roasting.
  • Purple Stripe garlic: spicy and bold flavor, ideal for salsas and marinades.
  • Artichoke garlic: mellow and slightly sweet flavor, best for soups and stews.

To buy the best garlic, look for bulbs that are firm in texture and feel heavy for their size. The skin should be dry and papery. The aroma should be fresh and strong. Discard bulbs with any sign of mold or dark spots.

Alternatives to garlic

As a substitute for garlic, try other vegetables with a similar flavor profile and cooking properties. Common alternatives to garlic include onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, and chives.


  • Potential Health Benefit of Garlic Based on Human Intervention Studies: A Brief Overview: