Do This To Avoid Burning Your Garlic

Few things are more distressing when cooking than putting garlic into a skillet of hot oil, only to watch it quickly blacken and burn. Distressing, but understandable. Garlic burns very, very easily. As HuffPost notes, garlic has a low water content, which naturally reduces the time it takes to cook. Chopping or slicing only exacerbates the issue. Smaller pieces cook faster, after all. The good news, however, is there's a simple hack that, once learned, will ensure you never burn garlic again.

According to One Good Thing, the most important thing to remember when cooking garlic is to start it in cold oil — meaning, in a cold pan. Don't even turn on the stove until the garlic is prepped, ready, and in the pan. Make sure the garlic is fully coated with olive oil (or alternative), and then, as Bon Appétit suggests, set the temp to low and adjust accordingly. Letting the garlic cook slowly, as the pan gradually heats up, allows for more even cooking — and less opportunity for the garlic to burn.

How to cook garlic with other ingredients

Okay, so now you know the trick to cooking garlic solo ... but how about with other ingredients? Per Epicurious, the cold pan hack works just fine with both onions and garlic. But when cooking onions and garlic together, Lakeside Table advises browning the onions before adding the garlic. This is because, in addition to the two other issues with garlic we've already mentioned — low water content and smaller pieces — garlic also cooks at a lower temperature than onions.

Similarly, if you're doing a stir fry, for example, where garlic is among several ingredients, Bon Appétit recommends holding off on adding the garlic until you're at least halfway through the cooking process. The commonality between these tips is to avoid adding the garlic too soon. Garlic should generally be the last ingredient added in order to limit its exposure to a hot pan, since it has such an inherent propensity to burn. The exception to this, as Bob Appétit notes, is if you are making tomato sauce or something else with a lot of liquid. In this case, the garlic can be cooked sooner, as the addition of the liquid will cool down the pan.