Why You Should Use Minced Garlic For Dressings And Vinaigrette

Garlic can give any dish a pick-me-up. Punchy in all the right ways, it offers a surge of umami richness that can elevate any recipe — so long as it's used correctly. Although garlic should be distinguishable, it shouldn't overwhelm the recipe that it's meant to enhance. Since it can be challenging to figure out how best to prep garlic for certain dishes, we can say with certainty that when it comes to dressings, mincing should be your go-to move.

Mincing garlic is essentially a matter of finely chopping the herb; bits of diced garlic should closely resemble teeny tiny grains of couscous. Given that minced garlic is so small, it makes practical sense to use it for no-cook recipes primarily because it burns easily when cooked. Mincing also means the textures of a dish won't be impacted, which is especially important in raw recipes like smooth sauces, silky vinaigrettes, and velvety aioli.

Ideal as mincing may seem, garlic can become pretty potent the more it's sliced. When garlic is sliced, a chemical reaction occurs that results in the production of allicin, a compound that's responsible for giving garlic its iconic aroma and flavor. As more of the garlic's cell walls are compromised during the act of mincing, the degree of allicin amplifies and intensifies the flavor. However, there are some ways to manage pungency to your liking.

Before working minced garlic into dressings and vinaigrettes, consider this

Raw, minced garlic can provide immediate intensity, which is great news for garlic fans. But, if you'd prefer that the ingredient not to take center stage in sauces and dressings, you might want to think about the type (and amount) of garlic you're using in recipes. For example, smaller softneck garlic tends to be milder and simpler in comparison to hardneck varieties that can range in pungency and complexity, which can make them a good option for mincing into no-cook dressings. That said, there are plenty of sweeter hardneck options such as Rocambole that can prove tasty when used raw. Regardless of whether you pick something mellow or bold, a single clove will deliver more than enough flavor.

Naturally, the technique you follow when mincing can also impact potency. While there's no shortage of hacks from using a dedicated garlic press to running cloves over microplanes, these options produce a juicier and more piquant result. In contrast, the classic method of rocking a knife back and forth over a garlic clove provides a subtle zing and leaves you with some texture — again, preference will play a role in the method you select. 

Despite the many choices you can make to minimize or maximize garlicky robustness, the bottom line is that when it comes to creamy dressings, tangy vinaigrettes, and any other no-cook sauce, mincing garlic is a must. From taste to texture, mincing just makes sense.