Homemade Toum Recipe 

 Last Update March 6, 2024

By Jenny Zhang

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If you have an appreciation for Middle Eastern cuisine, it's highly likely that you've come across the delectable and irresistible treat called "toum." Hailing from Lebanon, toum is a garlic lover's dream come true, boasting an intense, creamy texture and a flavor that can elevate any dish. Whether you've experienced it as a dipping sauce for shawarma, a spread for sandwiches, or a condiment for grilled meats and vegetables, toum is an essential component of Lebanese cuisine and a versatile culinary gem in its own right.

The word "toum" literally translates to "garlic" in Arabic, and it's a fitting name for a sauce that celebrates this pungent and aromatic ingredient. Made with just a handful of simple ingredients, toum is a blend of fresh garlic, oil, lemon juice, and salt, but mastering the art of achieving the perfect creamy consistency can be a challenge for many home cooks.

If you've ever wondered how this heavenly Lebanese garlic sauce is made, you're in for a treat! In this blog post, we will share how to make an irresistible Lebanese garlic sauce recipe (toum) right in your own kitchen. We'll dive into the traditional preparation methods, explore some helpful tips and tricks, and guide you through the process step-by-step.

Traditional Lebanese Garlic Sauce Toum Recipe

Prep Time
15 minutes

Cook Time
0 minutes

Rest Time
0 minutes

Total Time
15 minutes

  • Cooking Method: 
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean
  • Servings: 12
  • Calories: 99
  • Courses: Condiment
  • Best Season: Any


  • 1 head of peeled garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemons
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of ice water (optional, for a lighter consistency)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


1. Gently peel the garlic cloves and eliminate any green sprouts if they are present. This will help reduce the bitterness.

2. Add garlic cloves to a food processor. Extract the lemon juice from the lemon and incorporate it into the food processor and the garlic.

3. Start blending the mixture of garlic and lemon juice at a low speed, progressively elevating it to high. Continue blending until the garlic achieves a finely chopped consistency, resembling a texture similar to that of a paste.

4. While the processor continues to run, gradually and steadily pour in the olive oil. If you encounter difficulty pouring slowly, use a spoon to drizzle it in, allowing the mixture to emulsify and thicken. Should the mixture appear too runny, it indicates that you are pouring too quickly.

5. Keep blending until the mixture reaches a creamy and smooth consistency. If you prefer a lighter consistency, add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and blend again until well incorporated.

6. Add salt to the toum, seasoning it to your desired taste. Begin with a pinch and make adjustments according to your personal preference.

7. Transfer the toum into a jar or airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It will keep for about a week.

Tips & Notes

Mince the garlic well: Ensure the garlic cloves are minced thoroughly in the food processor or blender. This will help distribute the garlic flavor evenly throughout the sauce.

Gradually add the oil: When adding the olive oil to the blender, drizzle it slowly and steadily. This gradual incorporation will help the mixture emulsify and create a creamy texture. If you pour the oil too quickly, it may not emulsify properly, resulting in a runny sauce.

Adjust the consistency: Toum can vary in consistency, depending on personal preference. For a thicker sauce consistency, reduce the amount of water added or consider omitting it altogether, depending on your preference. On the other hand, if you want a lighter and smoother texture, gradually incorporate a few tablespoons of cold water while blending.

Nutritional Facts

Nutrition Facts

Servings: 12



% Daily Value*

Total Fat 1.4g


Saturated Fat 0.2g


Cholesterol 0mg


Sodium 195mg


Total Carbohydrate 18.6g


Dietary Fiber 0.8g


Total Sugars 0.6g

Protein 2.7g

Vitamin D 0mcg


Calcium 4mg


Iron 1mg


Potassium 36mg


*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.

What is Toum or Garlic Sauce?

Toum, also known as Lebanese garlic sauce, is a flavorful condiment originating from the Middle East that has a strong garlicky taste. It is popular in Lebanese, Syrian, and other Mediterranean cuisines. The key ingredients of toum are garlic, oil, lemon juice, and salt. This results in a creamy, thick texture with a robust, aromatic garlic flavor.

Traditionally, toum is made by crushing garlic cloves with salt in a mortar and pestle, then slowly incorporating oil and lemon juice until a thick emulsion is formed. This process requires a lot of effort, patience, and time. However, modern versions often use a food processor or blender to make the preparation easier and quicker.

Toum exhibits versatility and can serve as a condiment or dip, enhancing various dishes. The strong garlic taste garlic paste pairs well with grilled chicken, roasted vegetables, shawarma, falafel, kebabs, and even as a spread on sandwiches or wraps. Its bold garlic flavor imparts a delightful kick to dishes and elevates their overall taste.

What does toum garlic sauce taste like?

Toum garlic sauce has a distinct and intense garlic flavor. It is known for its bold and pungent taste, which is characteristic of Middle Eastern cuisine. The garlic taste is robust and sharp, with a spicy and slightly tangy kick.

The Lebanese garlic sauce has a creamy and smooth texture, which adds richness to its overall taste experience. A distinctive harmony of flavors emerges by combining garlic, oil, and lemon juice. The inclusion of lemon juice contributes a tangy and refreshing element that effectively offsets the robustness of the garlic flavor.

What is the difference between toum and aioli?

Toum and aioli are two garlic-based sauces renowned in Mediterranean cuisine. Although they bear resemblances, there are notable distinctions to consider. Toum, hailing from Lebanon and Syria, is a traditional sauce deeply rooted in Middle Eastern culinary traditions, commonly featured in Lebanese and Syrian dishes. On the other hand, aioli has its roots in Mediterranean and Provençal cuisine, particularly in regions of France, Spain, and Italy.

Toum and aioli both involve emulsification, which is the process of combining two immiscible liquids (in this case, oil and water-based ingredients) to create a stable and creamy sauce. However, the emulsification in toum is achieved through the use of garlic and lemon juice, while aioli relies on the emulsifying properties of egg yolks. 

In terms of taste, toum is known for its strong, pungent, and purely garlic flavor. With its bold and intense flavor, it imparts a captivating kick to dishes. Aioli, on the other hand, has a milder garlic flavor and a richer taste due to adding egg yolks. The egg yolks also give aioli a smoother and creamier texture.

What Ingredients You Will Need To Make Creamy Garlic Sauce

Fresh Garlic

Garlic takes center stage in toum sauce, delivering its unique flavor and aroma. It introduces a potent, pungent, and subtly spicy taste to the sauce. Fresh garlic cloves are typically used; be sure to remove the green sprout. There isn't an ideal substitute for garlic, as it is the main flavor component. However, if you cannot use garlic, you can try roasted onions or shallots for a milder flavor.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder provides a more concentrated and less intense flavor compared to fresh garlic. It has a milder and sweeter taste. While it can still add a garlic essence to the sauce, it may lack the complexity and sharpness of fresh garlic. Modify the quantity of garlic powder based on your personal taste preference.

Fresh Lemon Juice

Fresh lemon juice contributes acidity and brightness to the sauce, balancing the strong garlic flavor. It contributes a tangy and invigorating flavor. For optimal results, it is advised to use freshly squeezed lemon juice. If you don't have lemons, you can substitute them with other citrus fruits like lime or even use vinegar, preferably a mild one like apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar.


Oil is essential for creating the creamy and emulsified texture of the toum. It aids in binding the ingredients together while imparting a sense of richness.

Canola oil is commonly used in traditional recipes, but you can also use a neutral oil like sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, or avocado oil.

Canola oil has been a topic of discussion regarding its potential impact on health. It is often produced through a process that involves high heat and chemical extraction methods. This processing can lead to the oxidation of the oil and the formation of trans fats and other harmful byproducts. 

A significant portion of commercial canola oil comes from genetically modified (GM) crops. While the debate over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is ongoing, some individuals prefer to avoid consuming GM ingredients. The majority of this type of oil production relies on conventionally grown crops. Conventional farming methods commonly entail the utilization of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, which can result in residual traces in the oil, raising potential concerns for both health and the environment. The same goes for vegetable oil; therefore, we recommend you opt for other types of neutral oil. 

If you are interested in using this oil type, seek organic, non-GMO verified, cod-pressed, and high-oleic options.

Opting for extra-virgin olive oil is an excellent choice when preparing Lebanese garlic sauce. However, olive oil can change the taste of the garlic sauce. Extra-virgin olive oil, derived from the initial cold-pressing of olives, exhibits a distinctive and robust flavor profile. When used in toum, it can contribute a rich, fruity, and slightly bitter taste that complements the garlic. The intensity of the olive oil flavor can vary based on the specific brand and region it comes from. For a more subdued flavor, you may choose a lighter variation of olive oil.

Furthermore, olive oil can noticeably influence the color of the toum. Extra-virgin olive oil tends to have a greenish-yellow hue, which can give the toum a slightly greenish tint. The color of the Lebanese garlic sauce can vary depending on the amount of olive oil used and the intensity of its color. However, it's important to note that the color of the toum can also be influenced by other factors such as the garlic used, the blending technique, and the overall recipe.

Regardless of the oil variety chosen, it is crucial to opt for a high-quality option to achieve the most favorable flavor. Avoid using strongly flavored oils like sesame oil, as they can overpower the garlic.


Salt is crucial for enhancing the flavors of the homemade garlic sauce. It helps balance the garlic's intensity and brighten the overall taste. Use fine-grained salts, such as kosher salt or sea salt, to season the Lebanese garlic sauce according to your taste preferences. If you're on a low-sodium diet, you can reduce the amount of salt or use a salt substitute, but keep in mind that it may slightly affect the overall flavor.

Ice Water

Using ice water to make toum serves a specific purpose in emulsification. When making toum, the friction generated by the blender or food processor can cause the ingredients to heat up. Excessive heat can negatively impact the emulsion, leading to separation or a runny consistency. By adding ice water, you can help counteract the heat and maintain a lower temperature during the blending process. This helps in achieving a stable and creamy emulsion.

How To Store Your Toum And How Long It Last

After preparing the toum, carefully transfer it into a clean container that can be sealed tightly to maintain its freshness. Choose a container suitable for storing sauces, such as a glass jar or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. To preserve its quality and prevent spoilage, storing toum in the refrigerator is recommended. The cold temperature effectively inhibits bacterial growth. After preparing the sauce, promptly place the airtight container in the refrigerator.

Generally, toum can be safely stored in the refrigerator for approximately two weeks. Nonetheless, the precise shelf life may differ depending on the freshness of the ingredients and the particular recipe used. Check for any signs of spoilage, such as a foul odor, mold growth, or unusual texture, before using the sauce.

To prolong the shelf life of toum beyond a few weeks, freezing is a viable option. Simply transfer the toum to a container suitable for freezing and store it in the freezer. Toum can be frozen for up to 3 months. When you're ready to use it, thaw the toum in the refrigerator overnight and give it a thorough stir before serving.

Ways to make toum without a food processor

While a food processor is commonly used to make Lebanese garlic sauce due to its ability to handle the emulsification process effectively, it is still possible to make Lebanese garlic sauce without a food processor. Here are a few alternative methods you can try:

Mortar and pestle

The traditional technique of crafting Lebanese garlic sauce, toum, entails the use of a mortar and pestle. By crushing the garlic cloves with salt in the mortar, they are transformed into a paste-like consistency. Then, gradually incorporate the oil and lemon juice while pounding and grinding the mixture until it emulsifies into a thick sauce. This method requires some extra effort and time compared to using a food processor, but it can yield authentic results.

Immersion blender

If you possess an immersion blender, also referred to as a handheld blender or stick blender, it can be employed to prepare garlic sauce. Place the garlic, salt, and a small amount of oil in a tall, narrow container (such as a mason jar). Blend the mixture while slowly adding the remaining oil and lemon juice. Gently move the blender up and down and achieve a smoothly emulsified consistency. Be sure to use a container that allows the blender head to reach all the ingredients easily.

Whisking by hand

While it requires some elbow grease, you can make Lebanese garlic sauce toum by whisking the ingredients vigorously by hand. Start by mincing the garlic finely. Combine the minced garlic, salt, and a small amount of oil in a bowl. Whisk vigorously until the oil is fully incorporated. Gradually drizzle in the remaining oil and lemon juice while maintaining vigorous whisking. Continue whisking persistently until the mixture thickens and achieves a desirable emulsified state.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I use pre-minced garlic or garlic paste instead of fresh garlic cloves?

While fresh garlic is preferred for its intense flavor, you can substitute pre-minced garlic or garlic paste. Remember that pre-minced garlic or garlic paste may have a milder flavor than freshly minced garlic. Tailor the quantity to suit your taste preferences, considering that the potency of pre-minced garlic can differ.

How do I prevent the toum from separating?

To prevent separation, adding the oil gradually while blending is crucial and ensuring it is fully incorporated into the sauce. If the creamy garlic sauce does separate, you can try blending it again or whisking it vigorously to bring it back together. Storing the garlic sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator will also help maintain its emulsified consistency.

Is Toum suitable for people with dietary restrictions or allergies?

This homemade toum recipe is free from gluten and dairy, rendering it suitable for individuals with gluten or lactose intolerance. However, it contains garlic, which is a common allergen. Those with garlic allergies should avoid toum or find suitable alternatives.

Not all toum is suitable for people with dietary restrictions. To create that creamy texture, some toum is made with raw egg white, mayo, or yogurt. If you have specific dietary restrictions, it is advisable to inquire about the preparation method of the creamy sauce.

Can I use a blender instead of a food processor to make the creamy garlic sauce?

Yes, a blender like Vitamix and a handheld immersion blender can be used as an alternative to a food processor. Both appliances can blend garlic, lemon juice, and oil effectively to create the desired consistency. When using a blender, start at a lower speed and gradually increase it to ensure proper emulsification.

Why is my toum not thickening?

If your toum is not thickening, it could be due to adding the oil too quickly or not blending it sufficiently. While the blender is in operation, gradually drizzle the oil into it to foster the gradual formation of an emulsion. Blend the mixture until it attains a creamy and thick consistency. Also, ensure you're using fresh garlic and enough garlic for strong emulsification.

My toum has a bitter taste. What could be the cause?

Bitterness in garlic sauce can be caused by using garlic with green sprouts. These sprouts can contribute to a bitter flavor. It's important to remove any green sprouts before using the garlic. Furthermore, an excessive amount of garlic can contribute to a bitter taste. Adjust the quantity of garlic to align with your personal preference.

What dishes can I use toum with?

Toum is a versatile condiment that pairs well with various dishes. It complements grilled meat such as chicken, beef, or lamb, roasted vegetables, falafel, chicken shawarma, kebabs, sandwiches, wraps, rotisserie chicken, and more. The garlic sauce adds a bold garlic flavor and a creamy texture to enhance the taste of these dishes.

Creamy Lebanese garlic sauce toum can make a great dip. Lebanese garlic dip is incredibly versatile, whether it is spreading on pita bread, dipped in french fries, or fresh veggies.

What can I do if my toum is too strong or overpowering?

If your Lebanese garlic sauce toum is too strong or overpowering in terms of garlic flavor, add more lemon juice to balance the taste. The lemon juice's acidity can aid in softening the garlic flavor. Alternatively, you can dilute the toum by adding a small amount of plain yogurt or mayonnaise to achieve a milder taste.

middle eastern garlic paste toum

Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.