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Ingredients

The (Actual) Truth About Sprouted Garlic

Those little green shoots don’t deserve their bad reputation.
By Published June 30, 2022

Garlic sprouts have long been vilified in the kitchen. Conventional wisdom has it that cloves with thick, pale green shoots growing out of them are past their prime, and that if they must be used in cooking, the sprouts should be trimmed away, or risk infusing your food with their unpleasant, harsh flavor. 

But when we actually taste-tested sprouted cloves alongside sproutless ones, we discovered that garlic sprouts’ good name has been unfairly tarnished: When it comes to that bitterness associated with sprouted garlic, it’s the cloves themselves that are guilty, not the sprouts.

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What Does Sprouted Garlic Taste Like?

Sampled on their own, raw sprouts tasted herbal and grassy, while the cloves they came from tasted fiery and sharp compared to raw cloves that hadn't sprouted.

These findings make a lot of sense. While garlic can last up to a year in storage, it dries out as it ages. By the time a clove produces a sprout, it has lost considerable moisture and much of its sugar has been used to grow the sprout, so it tastes not only more intense but also less sweet.

Can You Cook with Sprouted Garlic?

Usually—yes. In most recipes, the difference between sprouted and unsprouted garlic was undetectable. Furthermore, it wasn’t necessary to remove the sprouts before cooking, since their flavor is actually quite mild.

When to Avoid Cooking with Sprouted Garlic 

The exceptions to this rule? Recipes that call for a lot of garlic (such as aglio e olio) or recipes where garlic is the primary flavoring (such as aioli). In these recipes, we found the fire of the old cloves to be overpowering, so it’s best to opt for fresher heads. 

How to Control Garlic’s Flavor—Whether Sprouted or Not 

Garlic’s pungent flavor and aroma can be amplified or dialed back depending on how you cut your cloves. The allium’s signature flavor comes from the compound allicin, which is produced when the walls of garlic are broken. So, the more you slice, chop, or crush garlic, the more potent the flavor will be. 

For mild garlic flavor: Use whole cloves, as our chicken with 32 cloves of garlic recipe instructs. Because the cloves’ cell walls haven’t been disturbed, no allicin has been produced.

For moderate garlic flavor: Slice your garlic, as we do in shrimp scampi. Slicing breaks down some of the cell walls, producing a small amount of allicin.

For strong garlic flavor: Mince your garlic, as we do to make garlic bread. And don’t forget, allicin continues to develop after it’s been produced, so your minced garlic will become more powerful as it sits.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.