Can You Cook with Sprouted Garlic?

Yes, it's fine to cook with it in certain recipes. No, you don't have to remove the sprout.

We've long recommended removing any green sprouts from garlic cloves before cooking with them, since we've found that sprouted garlic can make food taste more sharp or even slightly harsh. But when we recently revisited the topic, we discovered that it's not the sprouts that taste bitter, it's the cloves. 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. Though 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.

In recipes, we found that removing the sprouts from older garlic cloves didn't matter, since the strong taste of the cloves overpowered that of the sprouts. We also found that the harsher taste of sprouted garlic was detectable only in dishes calling for a lot of garlic (aglio e olio) or where it was the primary flavoring (aioli).

Our new recommendations: If your garlic has sprouts, don't bother taking them out. And for more mellow, well-rounded garlic flavor in dishes that are garlic-forward, try to use cloves that haven't yet sprouted.

The sharp taste of older garlic comes from the cloves, not the sprouts.

Recommended Reading