How to Make Lebanese Garlic Sauce

by A.J. Andrews

Start to Finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 4 to 6

Difficulty Level: Easy

Lebanese garlic sauce, or toum, is best likened to aioli without the egg yolks. Instead of egg yolks, the oil in toum binds with lemon juice and the moisture released from pureed garlic to form a creamy, pungent paste. Herbs are optional, but feel free to stir in a generous pinch of freshly chopped parsley to mellow things out a bit.

(Recipe adapted from The Washington Post)


  • 1 cup peeled garlic cloves, tips trimmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups chilled sunflower oil, plus more if needed
  • 1/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/6 cup ice cold water, plus more if needed


Puree the garlic and sea salt on high until smooth in a food processor. Scrape down the sides of the bowl using a spoon or spatula as needed.

Drizzle 1/2 cup of the oil into the food chute in a slow, steady stream while the food processor is running. Stop processing and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Drizzle another 1/2 cup of oil in the food processor while it's running. At this point, the toum should have a creamy polenta-like consistency. Add the lemon juice and water.

Drizzle in the remaining oil. The toum should be white and have the consistency and texture of well-beaten eggs. If it appears grainy, add a few drops of cold water until it smooths out. Store toum up to 3 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


    • If the emulsion breaks, correct it by processing in a few drops of cold water and oil, alternately, until it comes back together. 
    • Toum pairs best with regionally similar foods. Match it up with falafel or za'atar flatbread or add a dollop to shorbat addas, a Middle Eastern lentil soup.

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About the Author

A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.