Toum is a bold and creamy Middle Eastern garlic sauce made of garlic, oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt with just a little bit of water. You can make this in a snap with the a help of a food processor and one important technique.

Once you master this garlic sauce recipe, you'll be making big batches to store and use in lots of different ways. Be sure to check out ideas below!

toum garlic sauce in a bowl. two heads of garlic and a spoon to the side

Toum

I'm a firm believer that it's the extras like dips and sauces that take a meal to next level delicious.

You already know how fond I am of things like tahini, tzatziki, hummus, and baba ganoush. And not too long ago, I introduced you to muhammara, a creamy roasted pepper and walnut dip from Syria.

Today, we're talking about TOUM! And let me just say, once you master this easy 4-ingredient garlic sauce recipe, you'll be using it in all sorts of ways. It's smooth, creamy, and bold...just the perfect condiment to kick things up a couple notches.

A blue bowl of toum garlic sauce and a spoon to serve

By the way, toum is pronounced TOOM, and in Arabic, it simply means garlic!

I first learned about toum sauce from my mother in law Dina who used to own a Mediterranean restaurant in grand Rapids, Michigan.

Toum was one of the most requested items at the restaurant, and it was the thing to go with the different gyro wraps and grilled items. Every morning, Dina would whip up a large batch of her special toum recipe, and it was inevitably sold out by the end of the night! That's how good it is!

I guarantee, once you master this easy homemade toum recipe, you'll be using this sauce in all sorts of ways.

ingredients for toum recipe: garlic, lemon, oil, and salt

What goes in garlic sauce?

Some toum recipes call for mayonnaise, but this traditional recipe, adapted from Maureen Abood's Lebanese cookbook Rosewater and Orange Blossoms (affiliate link) is completely vegan, and to me, it tastes far better, while remaining nice and creamy.

It literally takes 5 ingredients to make, one of which is water! Here's what's in this toum sauce recipe:

  • Garlic. I used 1 whole head (or about 12 garlic cloves).
  • Kosher salt. Just 1 teaspoon
  • Neutral-tasting oil. 1 ¾ cup. As much as I love my extra virgin olive oils, for toum, it's best to use something like a grapeseed oil or sunflower seed oil.
  • Lemon Juice. 1 lemon.

Plus a little bit of ice water to help during the emulsification process.

sliced fresh garlic in a bowl

How to make garlic sauce (toum)?

Making toum, or touma, from scratch is simple, but it's all about the very slow and steady emulsification process that whips the garlic and oil together with the help of lemon juice and a bit of ice water. Traditionally, a morter and pestle are used to make this garlic sauce recipe, but I have found a small food processor to work just as well. Here is how to make it:

  • Mince the garlic and kosher salt together. First, pulse the peeled and sliced garlic and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in a small food processor until the garlic appears minced.
  • Add lemon juice. Pour in juice of one lemon and pulse again a few times to combine.
  • Slowly slowly slowly add the oil and alternate with a bit of ice water, while the processor is running. Drizzle about ¼ cup of the oil very slowly from the top opening of the food processor (it should be a very slow stream). Add about 1 tablespoon of ice water and keep the processor going. Continue to do this using ¼ cup of oil at a time and alternating with the ice water until the oil is finished and the garlic sauce has thickened and increased in volume (it should look whipped and fluffly. This process can take a good 10 minutes, do not rush it!
toum garlic sauce whipped in a food processor

Important Tips

  • Use the best fresh garlic. This recipe is all about garlic, so avoid using peeled garlic from a package. Use the best fresh garlic you can find. Give the garlic head a squeeze, the cloves should be full and firm.
  • Slice the garlic in half and remove any green sprouts. This is optional, but it prevents the bitter flavor it can impart.
  • Don't skip the lemon juice. Fresh lemon juice adds brightness, and it should be added at the beginning to help the garlic (some recipes may add the lemon juice toward the end which causes the sauce to break).
  • Do not rush the emulsification process. Adding the oil ever so slowly as the garlic is whipping in the processor is what makes this sauce! Alternating the oil with a small amount of water prevents the emulsion from breaking.
  • Use a small food processor. For the amount of garlic used in this recipe, a smaller processor works well because the blade can easily mince the garlic without it flying all over the bowl. If you double or triple the recipe, you can easily use a large food processor.

What do you eat toum with?

If you haven't already tried toum or touma, you might be wondering how to use it or what to pair it with.

This garlic sauce recipe is one versatile condiment you will use over and over. Pretty much anything you think might need a kick of garlic, you can use toum!

The most obvious and traditional use of toum sauce is with things like chicken kabobs, shawarma, grilled lamb, or falafel. It's also great with grilled swordfish or grilled salmon.

I've been known to use this garlic sauce to jazz up some grilled vegetables or stirred in boiled potatoes or olive oil pasta (in both cases, the toum replaces minced garlic).

And if nothing else, egg-free toum can easily replace mayonnaise or aioli as a healthier, bolder, and far tastier spread on sandwiches!

toum garlic sauce in a blue bowl. garlic head to the side

Too strong for your taste? Here are three ways toum can mellow

For some who need their toum to be less powerful, three things you can do:

  1. Leave it in the fridge a few days. Time in the fridge will take a bit of the edge off.
  2. Place the peeled garlic in ice water for 30 minutes or so before making the garlic sauce. But be sure to dry the garlic very well before you start.
  3. Add cooked potato (mashed) or a couple tablespoons of Greek yogurt. Either of these items will thicken the toum sauce and take a bit of the garlic edge off. You would add a little bit at a time during the process. I don't do this because the toum is not the same with these additions and I'd rather have the real deal.

How long will toum last?

If you make a large batch of toum sauce, put it in a tight-lid mason jar or glass container and keep it in the fridge to use as needed. It will keep for 4 weeks or so.

And if you need to, you can divide it into smaller portion and freeze it for later use (do not thaw out, use from frozen). I do prefer the fridge method.

There you have it! Can't wait for you to try this awesome sauce.

You may also enjoy 50+ Top Mediterranean diet recipes. For all recipes, visit us here JOIN MY FREE E-MAIL LIST HERE. 

4.46 from 121 votes

Toum Garlic Sauce Recipe

Suzy Karadsheh
toum garlic sauce in a blue bowl. garlic head to the side
Toum is a Middle Eastern garlic sauce that is smooth, creamy, and bold. Once you master this easy 4-ingredient toum recipe, you have a versatile sauce or spread to use with many things from chicken kabobs, kofta, and shawarma to falafel, or fish. You can even toss it in your pasta or use it as a spread for your sandwiches. The sky's the limit!
Prep – 20 mins
Cook – 0 mins
Total – 20 mins
Cuisine:
Middle Eastern
Serves – 18 tablespoons
Course:
Dip

Equipment

  • Food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lemon juice of
  • 1 ¾ cups grape seed oil or sunflower oil (a neutral tasting oil)
  • 4 to 6 tbsp ice water

Instructions
 

  • Peel the garlic cloves. Cut the cloves in half and remove the green germ (this is optional).
  • Place the garlic and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor (a smaller one may work better here). Pulse a few times until the garlic looks minced, stopping to scrape down the sides. Add the lemon juice and pulse a few times to combine (again, scrape down the sides)
  • While the food processor is running, drizzle the oil in ever so slowly (use the top opening of the processor to drizzle in the oil). After you've used about ¼ cup or so, add in about 1 tablespoon of the ice water. Stop to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl.
  • Keep the processor running and continue to slowly drizzle in the oil, adding a tablespoon of the ice water after every ¼ cup of oil. Continue on with this process until you have used up the oil entirely. The garlic sauce has thickened and increased in volume (it should look smooth and fluffy). This should take somewhere around 10 minute or so.

Video

Notes

  • This recipe is adapted from Maureen Abood's cookbook Rosewater and Orange Blossoms (affiliate link). 
  • Cook's Tip: for best results, do not rush the emulsification process. Remember to add the oil very slowly as the processor is running, alternating with a little tiny bit of ice water. If your processor does not have a top opening to drizzle the olive oil, still add the oil very slowly, about a tablespoon or so at a time, and run the processor to whip the garlic well. And again, don't forget to add a bit of the ice water as well. Keep whipping the garlic until you have used up all the oil. Alternating the oil with a small amount of water prevents the emulsion from breaking. 
  • It  helps to use a smaller food processor. I used an older version of this mini food processor from Cuisinart (affiliate link). 
  • Storage: toum can best be stored in a tight-lid mason jar or container in the fridge for 4 weeks or so. You can also freeze some for later use (do not thaw out, use from frozen). I do prefer the fridge method. 
  • Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including extra virgin olive oils, all-natural and organic spices and more. 

Nutrition

Calories: 213.4kcalCarbohydrates: 0.6gProtein: 0.1gFat: 23.9gSaturated Fat: 2.3gSodium: 145.8mgPotassium: 7mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.1gVitamin C: 0.5mgCalcium: 3.2mgIron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?

Share it with the world

I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

    1. Hi, Angela. It's best to stick with raw garlic for this recipe. I have seen recipes for toum with roasted garlic out there, but I've never tried it myself, so I can't speak to how well it will work here.

  1. Can't wait to make this as I love the sauce when I have it at restaurants. Question on the mini food processor. I have the same one and I'm wondering if you pour the oil through the tiny holes in the top or if you stop it, then open and pour in a bit of oil at a time, it's not like using a larger version of this food processor that has a larger opening. Would a hand blender work too?

    1. Hi, Ruth. I add the oil while the food processor is running, alternating with ice water. I've not tried this with a hand blender before, so I'm not sure if that would work.

      1. 4 stars
        I tried 3 times tonight, FINALLY success. It came out great. My errors: needed to make less, slow down, and smaller amounts of water in between the oil.

        Thanks for the tips!!

    2. 3 stars
      We came across the item at our Farmers Market and fell in love. I have made it several times but only successfully once. My success was using grapeseed oil. But I have not been able to make it again. It's always too thin. I like it light and fluffy. What can be done if it's too thin? I have heard to add an egg white.
      Can't figure out what I am doing wrong?

      1. Hi, Lynette. I have never tried it myself, but other commenters have mentioned adding the egg white has helped.

  2. 5 stars
    I have tried to make toum numerous times and sometimes it was very thin and sometimes a little ticker but never the consistency it should be. Because we love it so much though and I don't like to give up, I started researching and somewhere saw a mention that the ingredients should be cold. Because we live in California, none of the ingredients were cold (besides the ice water of course). I decided to put the oil I needed, as well as the garlic and lemon in the fridge for this, tried again and voila. I just made the best toum ever. Thick and creamy and perfect. I think it is such a key point that maybe you would consider putting it in your tips section?

    1. 2 stars
      I have also made this recipe (four times) without success. It has a great taste, but it is very watery. The first time I made it, my adult kids said it tasted so good they drizzled on their chicken kabobs and ate it anyway. The next two times I made it, I ended up throwing away those expensive ingredients. I made it again today with no success again. Is there any way to fix the recipe when it fails to emulsify?
      I live in California also, so next time I will try refrigerating the ingredients as Ragna suggested to see if that does the trick.

  3. I know you posted tips to mellow out the garlic, but I was wondering if it could be made with roasted garlic or garlic confit? If not, I'll follow CI's tip as well as yours. Thanks!

    Just a little FYI for others who might want a mellower garlic, Cook's Illustrated tested 4 methods for tempering the harsh bite of garlic and while 3 out of 4 worked well, they preferred heating garlic cloves in the microwave to blanching them. Microwave the cloves in a small bowl for 2 to 3 minutes, or until warm to the touch but not cooked.

  4. 1 star
    Garlic soup, waste of a full garlic head and almost two cups of oil. Followed the recipe to a t. This recipe is unspecific, please make a video as everyone is requesting. Not everyone has a mini food processor.

  5. Worked perfect the first time! Then no dice the next two times. One thing I noticed was that I had it nice and fluffy in my vitamix - then turned up the speed and tbe higher speed broke the emulsion. So I’d be interested to know what speed you recommend. No waste here though, because it’s delicious at any consistency and I can stir fry in it ir use as dressing if too liquidy. Will try the hand blender next. Thank you 🙏🏼

    1. Hi, Mary! I'm so sorry you've had some issue with this one. Since I don't have a vitamix, it's hard for me to recommend an exact speed. Based on what you've said here, sounds like keeping it low and slow works better for your machine.

  6. 1 star
    I am so disappointed in this recipe. I used a very high quality oil and it came out like soup. I don't know if you need a magic want to go along with it? Perhaps a video would be more effective in showing how to make this recipe. Thank you for trying but maybe go back to the drawing board.

    1. Hi, Jamie. I'm so sorry this recipe didn't turn out for you. Thanks for the suggestion of doing a video... I will make a note for sure! I'm not sure what may have gone wrong for you, but I have found that one critical key to success with this is using ice water and slowly alternating between the oil and the ice water. Rushing this at all can end in soupy toum.

    2. Hi - a little trick I learnt this evening I wanted to share,
      If once all of the oil has been added and the mixture is still liquid (emulsification hasn’t worked) add a little egg white (half an eggs worth or so) and mix.
      Worked a great to bring mine back from “soup”.
      Which I had this trick before today. I’ve been successful previously but I have had my fair share of soupy white mess too.

  7. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and I put extra garlic in it because I think I put in too much lemon juice. It was perfect! It was pungent, spicy and thick. I chopped the garlic into a paste and then did the rest in the blender. I didn’t even particularly go slow like a tiny drop at a time but I didn’t dump a quart of a cup in at time either. It’s a lot like making mayonnaise really. Thanks for the recipes! I made it for my chicken shawarma today which is also your recipe! I am back here looking for what else I can cook this week to put toum on!

  8. Mine does not thicken too much. After a while in the fridge I feel it thicken a little more. Anyway I don't really mind the thickness I am getting. Fine with me. But I just feel it's coming too lemony flavored. I don't know if my lemons are maybe too big and juicy compared to my garlic heads. Any comments? I still enjoy it though. Second time doing it.

    1. Hi, Samia! There are some tips listed in the post related to the emulsifying/thickening... it really comes down to the balance of oil to cold water and the technique in adding them ever so slowly as you continue to whip it. As for the lemon flavor... yes, I would try to use smaller lemons next time and see if that works better for you.

      1. Hi. I have done it again...it's yummy...just not too thick......I'll try to the egg whites next time. Little Mashed potatoes also helps

  9. 5 stars
    We love toum so much and I was very excited to make it. I made sure I even bought the mini food processor you use so that it would turn out right. I followed everything and the taste was amazing but I could not get it too thicken as much as it should no matter how hard I tried. I wonder if you have a video so I can see if I am missing something?

      1. 5 stars
        Do you know what cause the garlic sauce to not emulsify? I used grape seed oill

      2. Hi, Charles. As shared in the tips, it really is all about the balance of oil to cold water and the technique in adding them ever so slowly as you continue to whip it.

    1. Will freezing the garlic and thawing it out help? I do that for my hummus so it will blend smooth;y with the garbanzos, oil and lemon juice. Would it eliminate the cole/ice water mixture some?

      1. I would not recommend that, Shirley. I have found that the big key to success with this is using ice water and slowly alternating between the oil and the ice water. Rushing this at all is what tends to end up in soupy toum.

  10. 5 stars
    I was so terrified that my emulsion wouldn’t hold, but this turned out fabulous!!
    I used sunflower oil (about 1/4 cup less than the recipe called for, my processor is small and was making a huge mess at the end). Totally worth the effort and mess!

  11. Suzi,
    I love, Love, LOVE toum. But especially for the lady getting garlic soup, may I suggest the way I learned to make it? I use a stick (immersion) blender. Put all your ingredients -minced garlic, salt, fresh lemon juice and oil in the bowl all together. Note:I prefer safflower oil because it is light, but also makes snowy white toum. Turn on the stick blender, and within seconds it is beautifully blended. Add a little cold water to thin. Voila!

      1. 2nd try. Can't get it to thicken, no matter how slow I go.
        Taste is fabulous though. Any hints to thicken after it hasn't worked?

  12. 5 stars
    Oh Suzy I am so beyond happy that you have published this recipe! I had tried to make toum using a different recipe in a normal food processor a few months ago, and it didn’t work at all. Today I tried your recipe out in my Cuisinart mini processor and it worked amazingly!!! I was beyond happy to open the lid and see how thick it came out, each time I had to scrape down. I was a little worried as my last experience was so bad and also because I used cold water from the tap, rather than ice water - but it came out beyond perfect! So delicious and strong, but not pungent either! It was also the perfect quantity for the processor as well as just in general - filling around 3/4 of a mason jar. The best accompaniment to my chicken shawarma. I am so pleased, thank you!

  13. 1 star
    I tried this recipe and also ended up with garlic soup. Definitely wasted a lot of avocado oil. Not sure how you are supposed to get this to thicken without an egg. I added the oil VERY slowly (probably took about 20 min). Anyone have suggestions?

    1. Hi, Selvi. I'm sorry :(. It's hard to say what may have gone wrong here. Adding the oil super slowly is key (which sound like you did). The alternation between small amounts of oil and some very cold ice water is also important. Thanks for giving it a try!!

    2. I had the same issue using my ninja food processor so I’m guessing to big I stuck my garlic soup in one of the smoothie cups and blended it some more and voila it totally worked. Good luck on your next attempt because it is worth it! ☺️

    3. I had a similar experience with really runny and loose sauce. I tired the recipe two times (once w olive oil and another with grape seed oil) and had similar results. Even after adding an egg yolk, my sauce would not thicken. I wouldn’t recommend this recipe based on the instructions given.

  14. 5 stars
    Hi Suzy, I tried this for the first time about 6 months ago & I absolutely love it! If I wanted to make a big batch with all the garlic I've grown in my garden, what's the best way to keep it? How long would it last in the fridge? Thank you for sharing

    1. Hello! I recommend placing it in a tight-lid mason jar or glass container and keeping it in the fridge to use as needed. It will keep for 4 weeks or so this way. If you need to, you can divide it into smaller portions and freeze. I do prefer the fridge method, though.

  15. 5 stars
    I recently discovered this at a local Mediterranean Restaurant where I ordered some chicken kabobs. The food there is fantastic. So I asked the waitress one time when I was there how they make that garlic sauce and what is the proper name for it. She told me the name (Toum) and what ingredients are used to make it and how to make it. So I looked it up on the internet (here) and decided to give this a try. I could not believe that the first recipe I saw said to use 4 cups of oil. To me, that just didn't sound right at all. So, I made my attempt using only one cup of oil and two whole garlic rounds (or, whatever they're called). I peeled all the paper covering off all the cloves and then I put them into my food processor and ground them up into a paste. I also added some salt per the recipe and some lemon juice and kept whipping it all up in my processor for the required time of about 10 minutes and it never got creamy. So, seeing as how I did not have any more garlic I put the liquid in a container and put it in the fridge for three days during which time I purchased some fresh garlic in a big bag from Costco. Today, I took 2 garlic rounds from the bag and peeled them and got a nice bunch of cloves from it and put them in my processor and made a paste with them then I got that container out of the fridge with the garlic and oil and salt and lemon juice in it and poured it into my processor and whipped it up for about 10 minutes and it still stayed kind of liquidy but was getting closer to being thicker but not yet where it needed to be. I poured that mixture out of the processor into a large stainless steel bowl and used a Cuisinart Smart Stick hand blender to whip it up and within about a minute or so it became thick and pasty just the way it was in that restaurant that day. It was quite strong because of all the cloves I had in it but I mellowed it out some by adding more lemon juice to it and I must say... it came out FANTASTIC TASTING. It takes some time and patience but then... it magically thickens after a while and makes you happy that all that effort paid off.

    1. 3 stars
      I wouldn't say this is an "easy" dip to make as Suzy listed. I made this six times and still failed with trying out 3 different food processors and following the directions. So people who are about to make this, I just want to let you know that this recipe is not beginner friendly and not fool proof. I think next time I will use a processor until the mixture looks smooth and then transfer the mixture in a mixing bowl on top of an ice bath, and then use an electric hand mixer..

  16. 2 stars
    Made garlic soup twice. The second time, I TIMED myself to make sure I was spending at least 10 minutes slowly drizzling the amount of oil indicated through a funnel and alternating with ice water. Still watery white garlic soup. I'd love to be refunded for how much oil I just wasted on this project.

    1. 5 stars
      Wow... I guess you haven't mastered it yet. Sometimes things don't work out the way you plan and in that instance you make it work by adding in a cooked potato for instance.