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This Toum recipe for Middle Eastern whipped garlic sauce is the perfect balance between light and fluffy + rich and creamy with tons of garlic flavor! You can use it as a dip for raw vegetables, flatbread, or grilled chicken, or as a condiment for just about any sandwich.

bowl of middle eastern garlic dip with shish tawook in background
Fluffy garlic sauce with Shish Tawook in the background.

The first time I had Toum was when I lived in Damascus, Syria. It was served as a dipping sauce along with Shish Tawook! One bite and I was hooked. The creamy lightness of this garlic sauce is the perfect accompaniment to juicy grilled chicken.

To this day when I make Shish Tawook I also make Toum to go along with it. Read on because I share a ton of uses for this sauce below!

What is Toum?

Toum is a whipped white garlic dip that’s both fluffy and rich at the same time.

The main flavor is garlic and it really packs a spicy punch! The only seasoning is salt, lemon juice adds a touch of tanginess, and oil emulsifies into the sauce for a super decadent-tasting, yet surprisingly light-textured end result.

top view of bowl of whipped garlic sauce

What Does Toum Mean in Arabic?

Also called Toumiya (or Toumieh), Toum is the Levantine pronunciation of the Arabic word for garlic, which is “thoum”. Basically, the name of this sauce is “garlic”, which makes sense because that’s essentially the flavor you’ll get.

Authentic Toum Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

lebanese garlic toum sauce ingredients

Not counting salt and water, you only need three ingredients to make this recipe!

  • Peeled whole garlic cloves – You can’t have garlic dip without garlic! For the best flavor and texture, I like to use fresh heads of garlic and peel it myself instead of buying the pre-peeled garlic, which can have a bitter flavor.
  • Coarse salt – You can use fine salt, just add a little less.
  • Vegetable oil – Any light-colored, neutral-flavored oil works well here, such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or safflower oil. I’ve also used avocado oil with good results. If you want to use olive oil, make sure it’s a light olive oil, and know that it will impact the flavor of the sauce.
  • Fresh lemon juice – Fresh lemon juice adds tangy flavor to balance out the oil’s richness, and also helps create an emulsion so we end up with a creamy sauce.
  • Ice water – We add a touch of ice water at the end, which thins out the sauce just a bit, and helps make it ultra creamy.

Instructions

  1. Add the garlic and salt to a food processor, and process until the garlic turns into a paste.
  2. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil 1 or 2 drops at a time. Once 1/4 cup of the oil is added, drizzle it in a thin stream instead of drop-by-drop.
  3. After 1/2 of the oil is added, start drizzling in the lemon juice with the motor running. Once 1/2 of the lemon juice is added, alternate between drizzling in lemon juice and oil.
  4. Continue drizzling in the remaining oil the same way until it’s all incorporated.
  5. With the motor running, drizzle in the ice water. The sauce will thin out and get super creamy.

Pro Tip: Don’t Try to Rush the Process

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The emulsification process takes about 20 minutes in the food processor. Taking the time to do it right saves the time and headache of trying to fix a broken emulsification or having to start over. The end result is worth the effort!

close up of hand dipping khubz into garlic toum

Storage

I recommend storing Toum in a glass container with a lid  or in a mason jar in the fridge for up to 1 month. This is because like anything garlic-flavored, the smell is quite pungent and glass does a good job of trapping odors and helping Toum stay fresh-tasting.

Equipment

Traditionally in the Middle East, this condiment is made using a mortar and pestle. Today, most recipes use a food processor.

Even though a food processor speeds up the process a bit, it still takes about 20 minutes for this sauce to fully emulsify. (I can only imagine how long this process takes when making this by hand with a mortar and pestle!)

Tips

  • For the best flavor, peel the garlic fresh, and don’t use the pre-peeled garlic. I know it takes a little bit longer, but I promise it’s worth it.
  • If your garlic isn’t the freshest and has started to grow a green sprout in the center (which is known the garlic germ), cut your garlic cloves in half and remove them. They can be quite bitter!
  • Use fresh lemon juice. Don’t be tempted by the bottled stuff which has preservatives and can have a bitter flavor.
  • Be mindful of the oil you use for this recipe because you will be able to taste it. Vegetable oil is a popular choice, but for the health benefits I also like to use avocado oil.
front view of garlic sauce in silver bowl with lemon and garlic in background

Toum Recipe FAQs

What is Lebanese Garlic Sauce Made Of?

There are minimal ingredients in authentic garlic sauce; just garlic, salt, oil, lemon juice, and water.

This sauce/dip is popular all over the Levantine area of the Middle East, including Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, and Cyprus.

Is Garlic Sauce the Same as Garlic Mayo or Garlic Aioli?

No! Garlic sauce is naturally vegan. It’s fluffy, light, and creamy because oil is emulsified with garlic and lemon juice.

Alternatively, garlic mayo or aioli typically uses egg as an emulsifier, and so it isn’t vegan.

How Do I Mellow Out the Garlic Flavor?

The flavor of garlic really shines here! This dip is piquant and a touch spicy (as raw garlic usually is). However, it should not be bitter unless the garlic or another ingredient isn’t fresh.

To mellow it out a little bit, you can do one of the following:

  • Soak your peeled garlic cloves in ice cold water for 1 hour before making it.
  • Add up to 4 tablespoons of Greek yogurt along with the ice water at the end of making Toum.
  • Wait a day before eating Toum. Its flavor mellows out a little bit over time.

How Do You Emulsify Toum?

In order to make a properly emulsified, light and fluffy whipped garlic dip, you need to go slow when adding the oil. It’s really important to add it literally a drop or two at a time at first. Then the acidic lemon juice comes in at a strategic time to help with the emulsification.

The best advice I can give is don’t rush the process! I find that it takes about 20 minutes to drizzle in the entire amount of oil.

Why Did My Toum Break or Separate?

As you’re making this, it can separate into a runny, oil slick-type mixture. And the most common reason is because the oil was added too quickly. Follow the recipe and take your time, and you should be fine.

bowl of middle eastern toum with hand dipping flatbread in

What Do You Eat with Toum?

In the Middle East, Toum is commonly used as a dipping sauce or spread. The first time I had it was along with Shish Tawook. Come to think of it, I never had Shish Tawook in the Middle East without Toum along with it!

This flavor-packed sauce is also served along with foods like falafel, broasted (Middle Eastern fried chicken), and chicken shawarma (either as a condiment spread onto the sandwich or as a side sauce for dipping), to name just a few uses.

But the uses for this deliciously light, fluffy, flavorful sauce don’t end there!

Here Are a Few More Ways to Use It:

  • As a vegetable dip on a crudités platter.
  • Drizzle a little bit of good quality extra-virgin olive oil on top, grab a piece of fresh flatbread, and dig in.
  • Spread it on a deli meat sandwich (it’s amazing with turkey!) or a burger instead of mayo. Or use it anywhere you’d use garlic aioli!
  • Dip your fried chicken or fries in it instead of fry sauce, ketchup, or mayo.
  • Or for that matter, dip your chicken wings in it instead of blue cheese or ranch dressing.

More Authentic Middle Eastern Recipes

front view of dish of toum recipe in bowl

Let’s Connect

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Authentic Toum Recipe (Middle Eastern Whipped Garlic Sauce)

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Yields: 13 servings
This Toum recipe for Middle Eastern whipped garlic sauce is the perfect balance between light and fluffy + rich and creamy with tons of garlic flavor! You can use it as a dip for raw vegetables, flatbread, or grilled chicken, or as a condiment for just about any sandwich.

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Ingredients
 

  • 1/2 cup peeled whole garlic cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

Instructions
 

  • Add the garlic cloves and salt to a food processor and pulse until the garlic is finely chopped and turning into a paste.
  • With the motor running, very slowly drizzle in the oil a drop or 2 at a time. Once 1/4 cup of the oil is added this way, you can drizzle it in a thin stream instead of drop-by-drop.
  • After 1/2 of the oil is added this way, drizzle in the lemon juice with the motor running. Once 1/2 of the lemon juice is added, alternate between drizzling in lemon juice and oil.
  • Continue drizzling in the remaining oil the same way until it’s all incorporated.
  • With the motor running, drizzle in the ice water. The sauce will thin out and get super creamy.
  • Serve, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Notes

  • Net Carbs: 1g per serving (2 tablespoons)
  • Total Amount and Serving Size: This recipe makes about 1 2/3 cups. Each serving is 2 tablespoons for a total of about 13 servings.
  • Oil Choice: Be mindful of the oil you use for this recipe because you will be able to taste it. Vegetable oil is a popular choice, but for the health benefits I also like to use avocado oil.
  • Storage: I recommend storing Toum in a glass container with a lid in the fridge. This is because like anything garlic-flavored, the smell is quite pungent and glass does a good job of trapping odors and helping Toum stay fresh-tasting.
  • Video: If you want to see the video of me making Toum, please see the video in my Shish Tawook recipe (the part where I show how to make Toum starts at 1:13 in the video).

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 225kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 135mg | Potassium: 25mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 1IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keyword: Arabic Garlic Sauce, Garlic Dip, Garlic Sauce, Garlic Whip, Lebanese Garlic Sauce, Middle Eastern Garlic Sauce, Toum, Toum Garlic Sauce, Toum Recipe, Toum Sauce

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middle eastern garlic toum recipe
Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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2 Comments

  1. Carol Iverson says:

    What did I do wrong? Sauce is watery and broken. I follow Directions but still a mess.

    1. Carol, Oh no! Let’s try to troubleshoot together. The biggest reason why this sauce breaks is that the oil wasn’t added slowly enough; at first, it should literally be just a drop or two added at a time. Also, if you want to see the video of how to make this sauce, please find it in my recipe for Shish Tawook; I start to make the Toum at 1:13 in the video. Please let me know if you have any specific questions and I will try to help you figure out what went wrong!

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