Lebanese Garlic Sauce (Traditional Toum)
When you make Lebanese garlic sauce, you will be making one of the most popular recipes in the Middle East.
The word toum simply translates as garlic, an ingredient that is huge in this part of the world.
Garlic is found in many main dishes, but also inside dishes, pickled, or raw and minced in olive oil.
This dish is absolutely delicious and one of my favorites when eating kebab, and other grilled meats.
What is Lebanese Garlic Sauce?
Lebanese garlic sauce is a condiment similar to mayonnaise, but with a very strong garlic flavor.
This sauce is very similar to an aioli sauce, made without any egg yolk.
It is used as an accompaniment to several meat dishes, and can actually be eaten with bread on its own.
It is not unusual to find Lebanese garlic sauce as part of a mezze for those who really love garlic sauce.
To a Middle Easterner this garlic sauce is a must in a long line of flavorful Arabic foods.
A common offering at a Lebanese restaurant, you will always find this sauce on the menu.
There is a bit of magic to this recipe.
Garlic, salt, oil, and lemon juice turn into a sauce with the consistency of mayonnaise.
It is essentially a kind of mayonnaise with a wonderful strong taste of garlic
It is really very cool how the ingredients in this recipe emulsify.
The magic of chemical interactions make these seemingly separate ingredients to become one.
Emulsion is when two liquids that are unmixable that suddenly do mix.
Giving you an end product that looks so different to what you put in to start with.
Garlic is actually an emulsifier itself, and that is why it works so well.
It is the garlic that brings the oil and lemon together to create the loveliness of this sauce.
Mayonnaise came about when it was discovered that egg yolks are better emulsifiers than garlic.
People say the word is emulsification, I say the word is magic!
And that is one of the amazing things about food, magic is part of what makes food food.
I can’t think of a better thing to be involved with.
Garlic is said to be good for you in so many ways, and this is such a wonderful way to eat it.
You could take garlic pills to get all the benefits, but why would you lose out on the flavor?
If you make sure everyone is having the garlic then you are all set and no one can complain of the strong odor.
How to Make Lebanese Garlic Sauce
The vegetable oil I use is canola oil since it has a nice neutral flavor to it.
I also find avocado oil is great for making this sauce given its neutral flavor.
But you can use other vegetable oils too, just avoid olive oil.
Some people will put egg whites in this recipe to make sure that it fluffs up.
But with patience you will not need to use any other ingredient, and the sauce will remain vegan friendly.
And with just the four ingredients it will remain true to the original recipe from the Middle East.
Put a cup of fresh garlic cloves, cleaned and peeled, into the bowl of a food processor, add salt.
Process the garlic to get it as fine as possible, stopping to scrape down the sides when needed.
Add a little lemon juice to the garlic to allow it to begin to create a paste.
With the food processor running add about three tablespoons of the oil to maintain the thick paste.
Add a teaspoon of lemon juice while the food processor continues to run and watch for emulsification.
It is critical that you take this slowly otherwise your sauce will break and not become light and fluffy.
Very slowly begin adding the oil in through the spout on the food processor while it is on.
Do this about a quarter cup at a time, followed by a teaspoon of lemon juice.
The consistency should remain creamy and become more and more fluffy as you pour the oil in.
Once done remove from the food processor and serve.
What to Eat It With
There are so many foods that this sauce is good with, from being eaten on its own with bread.
To being good with cooked, and grilled meats done on the barbecue, along with grilled onions and tomatoes.
I have found the sauce very nice on a pita with falafel and pickles.
Spread over vegetables, or even included in an omelet this garlic sauce is very versatile.
Try it as a marinade for your chicken wings next time you make them.
Use it with fish, even in soup; I would even say try it with anything you eat, chances are it will work for you.
Sneak some into your homemade hummus or fuul as a way to give them a bit of a zing.
Pour olive oil over the top of the garlic and spread it on a slice of taboun bread, sprinkle a little grated cheese and bake until the cheese melts.
Find your own ways to include this incredible sauce in your food, and let me know what you find that works for you.
Tips for Making
- The most important tip is to go slowly as you make this, it is a recipe that cannot be rushed if you want it to turn out well.
- You will definitely be rewarded for your patience with this dish!
- Don’t over mix it, once the sauce comes together, and you are out of ingredients, stop the food processor.
- Be sure that all your utensils are completely dry as just a little water will make it impossible to emulsify.
How Long Will It Last?
Put the garlic sauce in an airtight container in the fridge.
If kept properly this sauce will last for two to three months.
It would be a challenge for it to last that long in my household!
It’s usually gone in a couple of days, and does not last at all if we are having a barbecue!
Lebanese Garlic Sauce Recipe
- ½ cup Garlic peeled
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1½ cups Vegetable Oil
- ¼ cup Lemon Juice
- Put the garlic in the bowl of a food processor with the salt, and process until the garlic is as fine as possible.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.
- Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and process to create a bit of a paste.
- With the food processor running, drizzle about 3 tablespoons into the paste.
- Add another one teaspoon of lemon juice.
- Add oil about a quarter cup at a time, followed by a teaspoon of lemon juice.
- Follow this alternating until you have used up your ingredients.
- The main thing to remember is to go slow, it can take ten or fifteen minutes to go through this process.
Excellent sauce! I used 1/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp minced garlic instead of fresh cloves (didn’t have any fresh on hand). I also used a “mandarina” lemon, which is actually a sour orange, but is just as acidic, not sweet, and has an added subtle orange-citrus note. I also used a neutral refined olive oil, but next time, I’ll probably opt for sunflower oil.
I pan-seared a fresh tuna steak and after cooking completely, flaked it and mixed it into half of the sauce in your recipe. I then poured the sauce/tuna mixture over 4 hardboiled eggs for a breakfast for two. It was absolutely divine!
We added only a bit of black pepper to the dish. In hindsight, a little tarragon would have rounded out the flavor profile.