Olive oil infused with garlic plus cooking tips.

how to make garlic oil, The Wimpy Vegetarian

Flavored olive oils are fun and so easy to make. But there’s good reason to take precautions. There is risk of botulism in making some types, and this seems to be particularly true of garlic oil as it has a low pH and harbors moisture. It’s believed that this combination promotes growth of Clostridium botulinum in an anaerobic environment, like oil. To be safe, here are some general recommendations to follow.

Safety Tips:

Cook the garlic in a little olive oil until softened before adding the remaining olive oil.

Once all the oil is added to the garlic, maintain a low oil temperature.

The safest bet is to store the garlic olive oil in the refrigerator and use within three weeks. If stored on the counter at room temperature, use within one week. This is not true of commercially available garlic olive oils as manufacturers are required to include acidifying agents to raise the pH level, for example phosphoric or citric acid.

As a note, many home cooks do not follow these guidelines and have no problem, but risk does exist.


Garlic Olive Oil

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 1 cup

  • 1 cup of your best olive oil, divided
  • 20 large garlic cloves, smashed to smithereens
  1. Warm one tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until just softened. Lower the heat to the lowest setting.
  2. Add the remaining oil and keep warm for 45 minutes. Small bubbles may appear around the garlic, but this should be more of an oil bath for the garlic. If the garlic begins to simmer, remove from the heat to cool before rewarming.
  3. Strain the oil into a jar using a coffee filter. If you don't have any coffee filters, use the doubled thickness of a paper towel.
  4. Label and store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator or one week on the counter at room temperature.
Refer to the Safety Tips in the post before making garlic oil. There is some risk of botulism, and there are guidelines that support a safe result.




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13 Responses to “Garlic Oil” Subscribe

  1. apuginthekitchen February 9, 2014 at 5:08 am #

    Really good tips, I often wondered about the shelf life for homemade garlic olive oil. I keep it in the fridge but its still concerning. Found some the other day tucked in back of the shelf it had to be over a month old, Threw it out because you just don’t know and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Great post.
    apuginthekitchen recently posted..The Basics- Hollandaise SauceMy Profile

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian February 9, 2014 at 11:01 am #

      Thanks so much Suzanne. It was surprising to me to learn there were some risks on this. I used to always leave my homemade flavored olive oils on the counter – but no more.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Garlic Olive OilMy Profile

  2. cheri February 9, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    Good post and information. Thanks!

  3. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef February 9, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    I love garlic oil and it’s really easy to make. I don’t make a lot and keep it in the fridge but bring it out to room temperature so I can get it out of the bottle.

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian February 9, 2014 at 11:04 am #

      I had always left mine on the counter until I started to research it. Now it always goes in the fridge – and you’re right it warms up very quickly once it’s back on the counter.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Garlic Olive OilMy Profile

  4. Liz February 9, 2014 at 6:01 pm #

    I’m so glad you mentioned the precautions when making flavored oils like this one. I remember Sara Moulton warning about botulism, but many recipes make no mention of it. I would have no trouble going through a batch of garlic oil in 3 weeks…your recipe looks terrific!

    • The Wimpy Vegetarian February 9, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

      Thanks Liz! Chances are, nothing would happen. But why take the chance once you know the risk? And I agree – most recipes I looked at don’t mention it at all.
      The Wimpy Vegetarian recently posted..Garlic Olive OilMy Profile

  5. mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits February 9, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Hi Susan,
    Glad to see you informing others about the dangers of botulisum in garlic oil. I teach food safety and have found that few people are aware of this.

  6. Norma Chang February 10, 2014 at 4:36 am #

    Thanks for posting the safety warning about garlic oil, amazing how many people are still not aware of the problem.
    Norma Chang recently posted..Harvard University’s Glass Flowers Collection – Orchid, Iris, Lilies & MoreMy Profile

  7. Laura Dembowski February 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I had no idea there was a risk of food borne illness from homemade oils. That is good to know, but I don’t think this would last long in my house anyway :)
    Laura Dembowski recently posted..White Hot Chocolate #SundaySupperMy Profile

  8. John February 12, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Really good advice. Thanks for these!

    I will be back :-)
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  9. Oui, Chef February 25, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Hmmm…I’ve made chili oils in the past but never garlic, sounds like a nice thing to have around.
    Oui, Chef recently posted..Treacle TartMy Profile

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