Toum – Lebanese Garlic Sauce

toum, garlic sauce, garlic, Lebanese, marinade, dip, condiment
Toum has the consistency of mayonnaise but the flavor of nothing you ever tasted!

The only sauce you’ll ever need!

Before I started this blog, heck before I started cooking, Toum has been a vital part of my life. Toum (toum translates to garlic in Arabic) is the mayo to your burger, the ranch dressing to your chicken, truly and ultimately the best condiment you will ever use or taste.

Toum is no stranger to Middle Eastern cuisine, it’s been around for centuries from the time of using a mortar and pestle to make the creamy sauce. Grandmothers all over Lebanon and surrounding countries have made Toum for chicken on Sundays since the dawn of time. It’s quintessential and one of the best kept secrets to create the most flavorful food.

I remember sitting in our church hall before a large event peeling garlic with allllllll the ladies! You see, that is how we all started our cooking journey is by peeling garlic. I peeled so much garlic my fingers were sore and obviously smelled of garlic by the end. But it was the start of something incredible and delicious that we Lebanese can’t live without.


Traditionally Toum is used as a dipping sauce, mostly with chicken (Boom, Boom, Chicken + Toum) a little chant we used to sing growing up. As I began cooking more and more for my family, I realized heck…I’m going to throw Toum into pretty much everything I make.

  • Marinading chicken – add toum
  • Roasting potatoes – add toum
  • Making salad dressing – add toum
  • Making hummus  – add toum

I began using it in place of chopped garlic for a few reasons. Since Toum is an emulsified garlic sauce the balance of garlic and oil is sometimes less pungent in cooking. It also acts as your oil when marinading foods, so truly it kills two birds with one stone. I love the creamy texture that it creates when making a salad dressing, all from adding a bit of Toum. 

toum, garlic sauce, garlic, Lebanese, marinade, dip, condiment
Garlic in it’s purest form creates a magical sauce

Trader Joe’s and Others

Sure, the market has become saturated with Toum. First one that comes to mind is Trader Joe’s Garlic Sauce. With the same ingredients as traditional Toum (garlic, oil, salt, citric acid to stabilize) it’s mass produced Toum. Now some folks have told me that it has a different taste than the Toum they have made. Well, of course it does! Does your mama’s homemade spaghetti sauce taste the same as the one in the jar? Probably not. Once products go to market, they are altered and even dulled down for the American pallet, which many food producers don’t feel can handle the intense garlic taste. Is it ok to use? Sure thing! But if you want true, traditional, in-your-face Toum, try this recipe, I promise it won’t disappoint and will cost you a fraction of the prepared stuff. 

toum, garlic sauce, garlic, Lebanese, marinade, dip, condiment
Lebanese Toum sauce for all your garlic cravings.

How to Make Toum

Okay, I know you can’t wait to start peeling garlic so here are the steps to making the perfect Toum. But be warned, it’s a tricky condiment that will *sometimes* separate. Anything emulsified can be a bit delicate. Don’t fret, even if it separates, it is still usable. Check out my full FAQ section below to troubleshoot and other burning questions. 

Peel the garlic: 

The hardest part of making Toum is peeling all the garlic!! Be sure your garlic is FRESH! There should be no green stems inside or coming out, if there is, your garlic is probably not fresh and your Toum may not come together. Trim the tops of each piece to remove the bit of brown stem that was attached. 


You’ll need 1 cup of peeled garlic to make 4 cups of Toum (about 2 lbs). It seems like a lot but believe me, if you’re going to use it for cooking and as a condiment, you’ll be happy you made the full batch. You can always half the recipe too. I measure my garlic in a dry measuring cup. Once you have your 1 cup peeled and trimmed, add enough water to fill the cup with the garlic in there. The water helps to cut the extremely sharp garlic flavor. Certain times of year, garlic can be much stronger in flavor resulting in a stronger Toum. You can always add a bit more water before processing if you know your garlic is extremely strong. 


Add your garlic & water mixture to your food processor (this is the one I use) and process until a smooth paste forms, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly begin to stream your 4 cups of oil into the processor. I don’t recommend using olive oil as it has a very strong flavor, you want something that is neutral. Avocado oil works fantastic, check out FAQs for other questions.

Final steps:

Just as you finish your oil, your Toum mixture should be thickening up. At the very end, add a teaspoon of kosher salt and finally a squeeze of lemon. That’s it! Remove and enjoy. Remember, if your Toum did not thicken up like mayonnaise, it is still delicious and useful! Try again next time and hopefully you’ll get the knack. 

I have Toum, what can I do with it? 

Keep refrigerated, some separation is natural, just mix together before use. Good for at least 1 month.

*marinade ~ add some toum, olive oil, S&P
*salad dressing ~ toum + lemon juice + olive oil + S&P
*garlic bread ~ smear on bread + cheese and bake
*spread ~ spread on sandwiches, wraps, etc
*dip ~ use as a dip with chicken/beef
*base ~ use as a garlic base for any meal you’d use chopped garlic

*possibilities are endless…share your favorite way to use Toum in the comments!


I’ve had many people ask questions regarding Toum from how to use it (see above), how much to use and alternative oils to use. I’ve listed some here and I’ll continue to add as I receive more. Please leave your comments below for others to read with adjustments and modifications. That is the best way for information to be shared. 

  • Can I use another oil instead of canola/vegetable? 
    The biggest thing is to make sure you are using a neutral oil. The garlic is what you want to shine, not the taste of oil. Other neutral oils to consider are: avocado and sunflower. A very light olive oil may not be terrible but it will definitely change the taste. 
  • I only use Coconut Oil, will that work?
    I have had one person use liquid coconut oil to stream into her Toum and she did have success. However, since coconut oil solidifies in the fridge, the Toum also hardened. Not a huge deal, just needs to warm up to soften back to the correct texture. 
  • How much should I be using when cooking? 
    Really this is a personal question. When I’m using it as a marinade I’ll tend to use a bit more, for example grilling 2 pounds of chicken breast, I’ll probably use close to a 1/4 cup. If I’m making a salad dressing, just a teaspoon or so. Roasted potatoes, full sheet pan full, probably a few tablespoons. Once you start using it you’ll know your preference and what works best for you. But also remember you’re using this as BOTH flavoring and your oil to saute or coat your food. 
  • Do I need any other seasonings? 
    Again, I think that is a personal preference. If I’m cooking with Toum, I’ll use it as my garlic for my dish but sure, I’ll add other spices based on what I’m making. If I’m using it for garlic bread, I’ll smear on my bread and just top with cheese. Personal preference. 
  • 4 cups of oil is a lot, is this healthy?
    Is anything really healthy for you in large quantities? No, everything in moderation! This recipe with 4 cups of oil yields about 2-2.5 pounds of Toum. That’s a quite a lot! Think 2 containers of mayonnaise you’d buy at the store. You’re not eating it like yogurt, you’re using in smaller quantities for larger meals. Again, everything in moderation, but do what is best for your family. 
  • Raw garlic, great health benefits
    Toum is raw garlic emulsified, so yes, there are a TON of amazing health benefits associated with it. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist but in the words of my wise Lebanese family, garlic heals most everything. Consider this an elixir to help with anything from the common cold to digestive issues. 
  • Pre-peeled Garlic
    I’ve had many folks ask about pre-peeled garlic. I personally do not recommend it. Generally when garlic is peeled and packaged it comes to the store not as fresh and often preservatives are added to keep fresh. Since you are using RAW garlic, you want the utmost freshness.
  • Food Processor vs Blender
    I personally only have experience using a food processor with Toum, but I have had many other folks share that their Vitamix blender worked well.

With a little bit of garlic, oil, salt and lemon, you will have a most amazing sauce! I would love to see your creations! Tag me on Instagram @CosettesKitchen or post on my Facebook Page.

toum, garlic sauce, garlic, Lebanese, marinade, dip, condiment
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toum, garlic sauce, garlic, Lebanese, marinade, dip, condiment

Toum – Lebanese Garlic Sauce

  • Author: Cosette’s Kitchen
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: condiment
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: Lebanese


Toum, Lebanese Garlic Sauce



  • 1 cup of peeled garlic (measure using dry measuring cup) about 2 full heads
  • water to fill measuring cup with garlic in place
  • 4 cups of neutral oil (canola, vegetable or avocado are preferred)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice


  1. Begin by peeling your garlic, to get a full cup you’ll need to peel about 2 large heads of garlic. Be sure there are no green stems. Sprouting is an indicator of old garlic. 
  2. Trim the tops of each piece where they were attached to the head
  3. Add your garlic pieces to a dry 1 cup measuring cup
  4. Fill the measuring cup with water to displace the garlic. The amount of water varies to your garlic size, so just fill to the top of your measuring cup with garlic in there for an accurate amount.
  5. Pour garlic + water into bowl of food processor (see FAQs about using other machines)
  6. Process for 1-2 minutes until garlic is smooth.
  7. Then begin slowly streaming your oil with machine running. You want to stream as slowly as possible, this is what creates the emulsification. 
  8. At the very end, add your salt and lemon juice to stabilize. If you find your Toum has already thickened, just mix in without the machine on to ensure you don’t process too long. 
  9. That’s it! Place in a sealed container and refrigerate. Good for up to a month.


  • Serving Size: 2 pounds

Keywords: garlic, toum, condiment, marinade, sauce

Print Recipe
Toum - Lebanese Garlic Sauce
toum, garlic sauce, garlic, Lebanese, marinade, dip, condiment
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Lebanese
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Lebanese
toum, garlic sauce, garlic, Lebanese, marinade, dip, condiment
Recipe Notes

*Toum should be stored in the refrigerator. It has a long life, can be stored for several months in the fridge. 

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