How To Make Crispy Garlic in Your Microwave
You’ll want to put it on top of everything.
If you like to cook, you probably know that you can’t go wrong with garlic. Sure, it may not be the best thing for your breath, but it adds instant flavor and complexity to any dish; plus, it has numerous health benefits, including potential immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties. The most common method for frying garlic is tossing it in a pan with oil and aromatics. But what if I told you there was a simpler, faster, less fussy way to cook garlic… in your microwave? That’s right: Your microwave can do more than heat up leftovers. Keep reading to learn how to use your microwave to crisp garlic in mere minutes.
How does frying garlic in the microwave work?
When you think of a microwave’s capabilities, crispy food is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. While it’s great for heating, reheating, and softening in a pinch (because who doesn’t eat a frozen dinner now and then?), crisping is generally left to the oven and stovetop. That’s why my interest piqued when I saw someone making crispy garlic in the microwave on Instagram. (The social platform is a treasure trove of cooking hacks.)
Bettina Makalintal, the food writer who posted the video, revealed in an Eater.com article that she discovered this technique in Cook Real Hawai’i, a cookbook by Sheldon Simeon. As Makalintal notes, “the process will have you standing by the microwave for a few minutes, but the extent of your involvement is pressing a button and opening a door — undoubtedly simpler than a stovetop fry.” Plus, you don’t run the risk of splattering hot oil, as you inevitably do when frying on the stove.
The ingredients required to make crispy garlic with this method couldn’t be simpler: all you need is minced or thinly-sliced garlic (the pre-peeled variety makes the process even quicker), neutral oil, and salt.
As illustrated by Makalintal’s video, the key is putting your garlic and oil in the microwave for one minute to start, and then — when the garlic starts to take on color — shifting to 30-second increments. “Under-fried garlic is better than over-fried,” she says, so use your judgment and don’t keep it in the microwave too long.
Microwave Fried Garlic
Ready to try it for yourself? Here’s the recipe, adapted from Simeon’s original technique. Follow along with the steps below.
Ingredients (Makes about 3 tablespoons):
- ¼ cup minced or sliced garlic (about 12 cloves)
- Neutral oil
- Sugar (optional)
- Place garlic in microwave-safe bowl and add enough oil to cover (at least 3 tablespoons).
- Microwave 1 minute, then stir.
- Repeat, stirring and microwaving in 30-second increments until garlic begins to brown.
- Then repeat, stirring and microwaving in 15-second increments, until garlic is deep gold. (This could take between 2 and 4 minutes total, depending on your microwave.)
- In a sieve set over a bowl, drain garlic, reserving the oil. Transfer garlic to plate lined with paper towels and season with a pinch each of salt and sugar (if desired). Set aside to cool.
Use your golden, crispy garlic pieces on pastas, salads, soups, or sandwiches — they’ll add instant flavor and crunch to any dish, so don’t be afraid to get creative. You can also avoid food waste by saving your leftover garlicky oil and using it to cook eggs or a stir fry. Makalintal recommends storing any extra garlic in a sealed container in your pantry, while the oil can be kept in the fridge for up to three days.
My Taste Test
I was skeptical about whether this microwave hack would work, but I went ahead and sliced my garlic, put it in a bowl with oil, and set my microwave for one minute. I didn’t see any immediate changes, but when I zapped it for the first 30-second increment, the oil quickly started bubbling, and the garlic, to my delight, began to brown.
I could see the garlic frying as I stirred it between each 30-second increment. By the time I’d completed three of them, it started feeling crispy — the texture was akin to spooning a bowl of cereal. My garlic still looked a little pale after the fourth 30-second round, but I switched to the 15-second increments anyway. (I wanted to see if the process would actually take less than five minutes, as promised in the recipe.) After three 15-minute sessions, my garlic pieces took on a lovely golden shade. Under-five-minute success!
Altogether, cooking my garlic until it was golden and crisp took a little less than four minutes. (Keep in mind that cook times vary depending on your microwave model and settings.) I immediately tried a piece, noting its slight crunch and mellow flavor.
I can’t wait to use this crispy garlic (and leftover oil!) to elevate a pasta dish, salad, or even a piece of buttered toast. (Lazy garlic bread, anyone?) The next time I want to jazz up a weeknight dinner without too much effort, I’ll definitely be using this hack.