What Is a Clove of Garlic?

And here's how much garlic powder you should substitute per clove.

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May 28, 2021

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Photo by: Chee Kit Cheng / EyeEm/Getty Images

Chee Kit Cheng / EyeEm/Getty Images

By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen.

Heath is a culinary editor at Food Network.

When a recipe calls for fresh garlic, it typically lists the number of cloves you should use. But what, precisely, is a clove of garlic? Let's dive into the details.

What Is a Clove of Garlic?

For starters, fresh garlic is normally sold in heads, which are bulb-like and covered in whiteish papery skin. Remove the outer papery layer, and you’ll see that one bulb is made up of many individual lobes that are also covered in papery skin. Each of these lobes is called a clove of garlic. You can break off individual cloves from the stem to cook with them, leaving the rest of the head intact for later use.

You might notice that some cloves of garlic are larger and others are smaller. If you’re following a recipe, it’s okay to use common sense in instances like this. If you pull off a tiny clove of garlic, combine it with another tiny one to equal one regular-size one. If you encounter a huge clove of garlic, maybe chop some of it off. Either way, remember that using slightly more or less garlic in a recipe won’t make an enormous difference in its final flavor. At the end of the day, the amount of garlic you use is a matter of personal taste. Chefs are known to joke that whenever a recipe calls for a specific amount of garlic, they’ll double it to ensure the dish is extra flavorful.

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Photo by: Jaree Joe / EyeEm/Getty Images

Jaree Joe / EyeEm/Getty Images

How Many Cloves Are in a Head of Garlic?

On average, a supermarket head of garlic will contain 10 to 12 cloves. Yep, we’ve counted.

How Many Teaspoons Is a Clove of Garlic?

Maybe you’ve bought a jar of pre-chopped garlic and are trying to sub it into a recipe that calls for cloves. Whatever the case, this is a question that comes up a lot. There’s no precise answer to it because, as we discussed above, cloves come in different sizes, but here’s a general rule of thumb: 1 clove of garlic equals 1 teaspoon of minced garlic.

How Much Garlic Powder Equals One Clove?

Garlic powder is not a true substitute for real garlic, but if you’re truly in a pinch, here’s a quick conversion. Substitute 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove of garlic.

How to Peel Garlic and How to Mince Garlic

The most common way to peel garlic is to cut the stem end off, apply pressure with the flat side of a knife until you feel the clove smush and pluck the skin off the clove. For a detailed guide on many different ways to peel garlic, check out our How to Peel Garlic story here. Now that your garlic is peeled, you can mince — or finely chop it. Give the clove a rough chop. Next, hold your knife and lay the other hand flat across the tip. Use a rocking motion to chop the garlic until finely minced.

Recipes to Use Up Garlic

Calling all garlic lovers. These recipes put garlic front and center.

Classic 100 Garlic Bread

Classic 100 Garlic Bread

Photo by: Caitlin Ochs

Caitlin Ochs

The Best Garlic Bread

Lots of butter, Parmesan and 4 cloves of garlic are loaded onto a soft Italian or French loaf. Hmmmm.

Classic Shrimp Scampi

This classic gets its flavor from buttery wine sauce – and five whole cloves of minced garlic. It’s one of those fancy dishes that just so happens to take only 30 minutes to prepare.

Roasted Garlic Bruschetta, garlic and onion based recipes for SCOPE.

Roasted Garlic Bruschetta, garlic and onion based recipes for SCOPE.

Photo by: Janet Rhodes ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Janet Rhodes, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Roasted Garlic Bruschetta

Roasting a whole head of garlic is easy and rewarding. Slice off the top, drizzle it with oil and wrap it in foil. Then bake it until the cloves are practically melting in your mouth and try serving it over toasted country bread.

Herbed Garlic Knots

The perfect way to enjoy garlic? Married with chewy knotted pizza dough, butter, olive oil and Parm.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

You may think you’ve got the perfect mashed potato recipe, but adding some garlic cloves to the milk while you heat it up infuses the liquid with more flavor, adding an edge of extra flavor you won’t even pinpoint as “garlic.”

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