Can You Freeze Garlic? (Cloves, Chopped, Puree)

Here’s all you need to know about freezing garlic. Learn the most popular methods of freezing this aromatic and choose one that meets your needs.

Say your garlic bulb isn’t looking all that great, and you’re looking for a way to preserve it. Freezing seems like the obvious solution. So, can you freeze garlic?

Or maybe you already know that freezing garlic is an option, but you’d like to learn more about the various methods.

Sounds familiar?

If so, this guide is for you. Read on.

Spoiling garlic bulb
My garlic bulb started going bad. That’s what got me interested in freezing garlic.

Table of Contents

Can You Freeze Garlic?

Yes, freezing garlic is a great way of preserving it. The downsides are that thawed cloves are a bit softer than firm, fresh ones and a bit less aromatic. Because of that, it’s best to use defrosted garlic in dishes where that slight change of texture or flavor doesn’t really matter.

In other words, don’t use defrosted garlic if you want to make your best garlic bread to impress your friends or family. That’s when you definitely should use a fresh bulb.

But if it’s a casual weeknight dinner, you probably won’t tell the difference if you use defrosted garlic instead of fresh in your stir-fry.

Long story short, if it’s obvious that your garlic bulb or cloves won’t make it until you can use them, freezing them is an easy solution.

(Here’s how long garlic lasts, in case you’re not sure if you need to freeze yours or not.)

Also, consider freezing garlic that’s started to sprout. You can still use sprouting garlic, but its quality is starting to drop pretty rapidly at that point. So unless you have plans to use it in a couple of days, it’s probably better to freeze it.

Next, let’s talk about different freezing options so you can choose one that works best for your needs.

Garlic bulb going bad on the bottom
Again, my spoiling garlic bulb. That’s what the bottom looked like.

How To Freeze Garlic

There are a couple of popular ways of freezing garlic, and each has its pros and cons. Those are:

  • Freezing whole garlic cloves. It’s best if you want to retain flexibility with how you’ll use the garlic. And it’s the simplest in terms of setup.
  • Freezing garlic puree. If your recipes usually call for minced garlic, pressed garlic, or garlic puree, this freezing option is for you.
  • Freezing chopped cloves. If chopped or sliced garlic cloves are what you use most often, freezing them in this form makes the most sense.

Now, let’s get into the details.

Peeled garlic cloves
Peeled garlic cloves

Freezing Whole Garlic Cloves

This way is my favorite because it allows me to do with the garlic anything I want after thawing. That means chopping, mincing, crushing with a mortar and pestle, or pressing using a garlic press.

In my opinion, it’s the best way of freezing garlic.

Here’s how to freeze whole garlic cloves:

  1. Prep. Remove all the cloves from the head. Next, decide whether you peel the cloves or not. I always peel them, so I don’t have to bother with that after defrosting them, and I suggest you do the same.
    Preparing garlic cloves for freezing
    Preparing garlic cloves for freezing
  2. Pack. Place the bulbs or cloves inside a freezer container or bag and seal it tight. Add a label with a name and date if you like.
    Garlic cloves in container ready for freezing
    Garlic cloves in a container, ready for freezing
  3. Freeze. Put the prepped garlic cloves in the freezer.

Unless you crowd the container or bag, the cloves don’t freeze together and you can still easily grab one or two when needed. Because of that, there’s no need for pre-freezing the cloves on a cookie sheet.

Freezing Chopped Garlic

Freezing garlic in a chopped form makes it super convenient to use in recipes calling for sliced or chopped garlic. You just break off the amount you need, and you add it directly to skillet or pot that’s cooking on the stove. No defrosting required.

The only downside is that you must chop all that garlic beforehand. But hey, you have to chop it at some point, so you might as well do it right now.

Here’s the step-by-step:

  1. Chop or mince the cloves. Remove all the cloves from the bulb, peel and chop them. Remember that you’re going to add this garlic directly to the dish, so make sure it’s prepped the way you need it to be.
  2. Pack. Transfer the chopped garlic to a freezer bag. Make sure you spread it in a thin layer, instead of leaving it as a big chunk. This way, you will be able to break off as much as you like. Remove the air from the bag, seal it, and label it if you want.
  3. Freeze. Chuck the bag or bags into the freezer.

That’s it. Whenever you need some chopped garlic, you take the bag out of the freezer, break off the amount you need, and put the rest back in there.

If you want to freeze a whole bunch of chopped garlic in a single bag, pre-freeze it on a cookie sheet for a few hours, and then transfer to a freezer bag. This way, the chunks won’t freeze together, and grabbing a handful will be as easy as it gets.

Peeling garlic cloves
Peeling garlic cloves

Freezing Pureed or Minced Garlic

This is the best option for you if you’re using pureed or minced garlic. It requires a fair bit of prep, but you’re left with garlic that’s ready for use straight from the freezer.

Here’s how to freeze minced or pureed garlic:

  1. Prep. Peel the cloves and process them the usual way. You can crush them with a knife, mince, press using a garlic press, or puree in a blender, and all these work fine. If you’d like to freeze garlic in oil, use two parts oil per one part garlic (or your favorite ratio).
  2. Pre-freeze. You can pre-freeze the prepped garlic using an ice cube tray or freeze blobs of minced garlic on a cookie sheet. The important thing is portion size: choose what makes the most sense for your favorite recipes.
  3. Transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. Once the portions are frozen solid, transfer them to a bag or container. A bag is usually a better option as it takes less space in the freezer. Label the bag with the name and date if you like.
  4. Freeze for the long term. Place the frozen and packaged garlic in the freezer.

That’s it; your minced or pureed garlic is ready to use whenever needed.

If you’re freezing garlic with oil, remember to freeze it right after mixing the two.

Storing garlic in oil at room temperature risks botulism, which you want to avoid at all costs.

The same thing applies to thawing garlic mixed with oil – you should either defrost the puree in the fridge or throw it frozen into a sautéing pan. Leaving it on the counter to thaw is not a safe option.

How To Thaw Garlic

Okay, so you have your frozen garlic ready for thawing (mine’s below).

Frozen garlic cloves
Frozen garlic cloves

To do that, there are a couple of options. Choose one that best fits your circumstances.

  • In the fridge. This option works well no matter which freezing method you’ve chosen. The only downside is you need a couple of hours (or even overnight) for the aromatic to defrost.
  • On the counter. This one works well for whole cloves. You remove as many cloves as you need and slice them (that’s a bit difficult because they’re frozen solid) so they thaw faster. After 10 to 20 minutes, the slices should be soft enough for further refinement: mincing, crushing, or using a garlic press. Remember that this isn’t an option for garlic puree with oil.
  • Throw it in frozen. If you freeze your garlic chopped or pureed, often, you can add it directly to the dish you’re cooking without worrying about defrosting it first.

Remember that it’s best to use the defrosted garlic as soon as possible. That means you should thaw only as much as you need for the next dish (that’s what I do) or for the next couple of days.

Warning

Defrosted garlic cloves are pretty soft and might be difficult to process using a garlic press. The flesh slips through any cracks it can find.

How To Use Frozen and Thawed Garlic

You can use frozen and defrosted garlic the same way you use fresh garlic. There isn’t a specific set of recipes that work well with thawed garlic, so feel free to use it like you usually would.

I use thawed garlic most often in recipes that involve sautéeing meat and veggies, or pasta sauces.

A whole garlic bulb
A whole garlic bulb