Inspired by the recent questions here, I made manicotti over the weekend. The recipe I used called for minced garlic in the filling. I love garlic and usually put in at least double recipe-prescribed dosage.

After baking for about half an hour the cheese was completely melted and the filling was set to my satisfaction. The garlic, however, was not sufficiently cooked and, although minced fine, was still caused some bites to be unpleasantly sharp. I wish that I had roasted the garlic in advance.

The question is twofold:

  • How hot does garlic need to get to be cooked? That is, sweet and not sharp.
  • Is there a better way besides pre-roasting to ensure that garlic in such a dish does not distract?

3 Answers 3


I can't give a specific temperature, as there's issues:

  • The sharpness is a chemical reaction which mix when the garlic cells are damaged.
  • Cooking the garlic before damaging the cells will convert the chemicals before they've had a chance to react.
  • Cooking the garlic after the chemical reaction will also remove the sharpness.
  • I've never tried taking the temperature of garlic as it's cooking

Now, if you're cooking the garlic cloves ahead of time (I roast a couple of bulbs at a time, then squeeze out the cloves into small jar and keep it in the fridge). It'll take 30min to an hour, depending on what temperature you're roasting at (350-400F; I'll throw it in with something else ... not worth heating the oven just for garlic)

If cooking after you've cut it, it'll only take a quick saute as you have more surface area (maybe 1 to 2 min, depending on pan temp) -- but be careful, as overcooking garlic will burn it, which is just nasty. And don't do it in a dry pan, unless you're planning on ruining your dinner. When it's golden, you're done ... don't let it get to brown, as brown is that stage right before black and time to clean the pan before starting again.

Also, it seems counter-intuitive, but finely minced garlic is more potent than coarsely chopped garlic, as you're doing more damage to the garlic. It won't help in this particular case, but in many dishes that just want the garlic flavor without being overpowering will use more garlic, but slice it rather than mincing, saute it in olive oil, then remove the garlic pieces, and use the garlic-infused oil for the dish.


So, anyway, not not exactly answer the questions ... I'd go with low and slow cooking ... specific temperatures are going to lead to fast cooking garlic, which gets you burnt garlic and ruined dishes.

In dishes where you can, infuse the oil, then remove the garlic. And if you really have to, there's always garlic powder.


My favourite way to remove the sting (which I love, but doesn't always work) is to poach in milk. Generally I do this when making macaroni & cheese; I poach the garlic in the milk which I then use for making the Mornay.

Poaching in water also works, mincing and then sauteeing... anything that cooks it all the way through. Bear in mind that how you cut your garlic will have an effect; smaller cuts (mincing, crushing) break more cell walls, releasing more of the sulfur compounds that provide the flavour.

  • 2
    Well said. Another option is to briefly saute the garlic in olive oil before adding it to the filling. Oct 4, 2010 at 21:56

The sharpness of garlic comes from a chemical called Allicin that, @Joe mentions, is only produced once garlic is damaged, bruised, or minced. Also, the bigger (and greener) the center cross section of garlic is the more the Allicin is produced.

The chemical itself actually decomposes over time once it's produced. If you had minced the garlic then let it sit out for a day, the sharpness would have been strongly reduced. Heating speeds up the decomposition but it is not an exact temperature that you need to cook garlic to.

Microwaving also removes the chemical, so you can try mincing the garlic then zapping it for 10 or 15 seconds.

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