Learn everything you need to know about how to make smoked garlic!
Smoked garlic is like roasted garlic but even MORE delicious, and super easy to make.
Whether you've got a gas or charcoal grill, a Traeger or Pit Boss pellet grill, or even a Masterbuilt electric smoker, we've got you covered!
Smoked garlic is incredibly easy to make and can be made with just a little indirect heat and smoked on literally ANY grill or smoker.
Once the garlic cloves are smoked you can use them in another recipe like smoked garlic bread or make some delicious smoked garlic tomato and mozzarella canapes!
Because you can smoke the whole head (or bulb) of garlic without taking out the cloves, it's easy to throw a head of garlic on at the same time you are smoking some cheese or eggs or fish, or anything else you want to pair the garlic with.
Let's look at how to prepare the smoked garlic.
Cut and Season the Garlic
First get a nice ripe head (also sometimes called a bulb) of garlic and slice off just the top using a good slicing knife like our favorite from Mairico.
Next, brush on some olive oil using a good silicone basting brush all over the head of garlic and season it up with plenty of kosher salt and pepper.
Don't worry about the smoke point of whatever oil you choose because we are going to smoke the garlic at a very low heat.
We used regular 100% Olive Oil.
You can also get creative and season the smoked head of garlic with a BBQ rub if you want to add some more color and additional flavors.
Use a Grill Basket or Phat Mat
Depending how many heads of garlic you are smoking, or especially if you are smoking individual cloves, it may be easier to manage a lot of them on a grill or smoker by using a grill basket or grill mat.
We are particular fans of the ORDORA Portable Grill Basket because it comes with its own handle, making it much easier to manage and move lots of delicate food, even shrimp, scallops, and asparagus around with one quick motion.
Another option is to use a grill mat, which are becoming increasingly popular in many BBQ circles, especially for delicate veggies and small seafood like oysters.
Our personal favorite is the PhatMat Non Stick Grill Mat.
Just throw it down on your grill to keep your smoked garlic all in one place and you can slide it around as needed to make room for other food without having to move each individual piece of food.
It keeps your grates really clean, and when you are done, you just throw it right in the dishwasher!
Best Wood for Smoking Garlic
Fruitwoods such as apple and cherry as well as oak will give you a subtle smoke flavor on your smoked garlic.
Or if you want a more distinctive smoky flavor, try some hickory or mesquite instead.
Because garlic has so much distinctive flavor on its own, don't worry about overpowering it with a strong flavored wood, so have some fun!
Best Times and Temperatures for Smoked Garlic
Best Temperature to Smoke Garlic
Because we want to impart a LOT of smokey flavor into the smoked garlic, we want to maximize the time we are smoking it without burning it.
For this reason we are going to smoke our garlic at only 180°F with INDIRECT heat.
If using an electric smoker or a pellet grill like a Traeger or Pit Boss, go ahead and put it on the lowest setting possible which is sometimes called the "Smoke" setting.
If you are using a gas or charcoal grill, will discuss how to set those up for LOW indirect heat below.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Garlic?
We found about 2 hours to be the right amount of time to smoke garlic at 180°F.
If you remove the cloves individually first they will take much less time than smoking the whole bulb if you are crunched for time.
But after 2 hours at 180°F we had a nice tan coloring n the smoked garlic bulb and the cloves were soft and easy to remove from the bulb and mash or spread
Setting Up a Grill or Smoker for Smoked Garlic
New to smoking?
Here are the best instructions for setting up different types of grills and smokers to smoke your garlic.
Smoked Garlic in a Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker
Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with only about a quarter chimney's worth of unlit charcoal and create a small hollowed out depression in the center where you can add your lit briquets.
If your smoker comes with a water pan, like the Weber Smokey Mountain, don't bother with filling it.
Light a charcoal chimney with only 2 lumps or briquettes of charcoal and wait about 10 minutes for them to fully ignite.
Once lit, add the 2 lit briquets to the center depression you created.
Keep the top vents half closed and the bottom dampers about ½ way open until the temperature is in the 160-180°F range.
Add 1 chunk of smoking wood once the smoker is up to temperature, grease the grill grates, and put your oiled and seasoned garlic bulb on.
Then slowly close down the top and bottom dampers to only about ¼ open until you are maintaining a temperature of 180°F.
Smoked Garlic in a Propane or Electric Smoker
Propane and electric options are some of the easiest smokers for beginners to start with.
For Propane: Open your gas valve and light the bottom burner. Adjust it down as low as possible without it going out to keep the temperature no higher than 180° F.
Need a refresher? Check our our Complete Guide to How to Use a Propane Smoker HERE.
Fill the smoking wood tray with your chosen wood chips and keep the top vent closed about ½ way.
Oil the trays and place your garlic on the top rack as far as away from the burner as possible.
Do not bother to fill the water tray if there is one.
Oil the trays and place your garlic on the top rack.
If the electric smoker gets too hot, place a foil pan filled with water on the tray below the garlic to act as a buffer.
Smoke the garlic for about 2 hours at 180°F.
However, we recently found a great solution.
If you are tired of having to reload fresh wood chips into your electric smoker, especially on longer cooks like pork butt and brisket, then check out this Masterbuilt Automatic Slow Smoker Attachment.
It basically burns new fresh wood chips at a constant rate, much like how a pellet grill works, freeing you up to do other things while getting your food nice and smokey!
Smoked Garlic on a Pellet Grill
Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.
Plug in the pellet grill and turn the temperature to 180°F or the "Smoke" Setting if it has one. Make sure you have the pellet grill set up for INDIRECT cooking.
Let the pellet grill run through its start up process. When the pellet grill has come up to temperature, place your garlic on the oiled grill grates, or preferably in a grill basket, or on a Phat Mat, and close the lid.
Turn and rotate the garlic as needed depending on how even the heating of your pellet grill is.
Never used a pellet grill before? Read our Ultimate Guide to Pellet Grills to learn why they are so easy and how to set one up for success every time.
Smoked Garlic on a Gas or Charcoal Grill
On a gas or charcoal grill you will likely need to use a smoker box filled with wood chips, or a pellet tube smoker filled with wood pellets.
Think you need a fancy smoker to smoke food at home?
Great smoked food can be made right on your current gas or charcoal grill.
If you are unfamiliar with these gas grill smoking devices mentioned above, no worries, we have you covered!
Or check out this handy comparison between smoker boxes and pellet tube smokers if you can't decide which is right for you.
In the case of smoked garlic, we would opt for the pellet tube smoker on a gas grill since you need about 2 hours of smoke and don't want to have to refill a smoker box 3-4 times.
If using a charcoal kettle style grill like in the picture below, start with one chunk of smoking wood then add another after an hour if needed.
Set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking with only one burner or a very small amount of lit briquets on one side and plan for your smoked garlic to be on the other side.
Remember, we are smoking the garlic INDIRECTLY, with very little heat. So light the pellet tube smoker, put one far side burner on LOW on a gas grill, or light only 1 or 2 charcoal briquets placed in a small pile of unlit ones on a charcoal grill with wood chunk on top.
Once the temperature of your grill is around 160°F, place your smoker box or lit pellet tube smoker over the lit burners or place a chunk of wood on the lit charcoal and once smoke begins coming out, place your garlic on the opposite side on the well oiled grate.
Continue bringing the temperature up to 180°F and smoke at this temperature for about 2 hours.
Best Ways to Serve Smoked Garlic
Carefully remove the smoked garlic from the grill or smoker and set on a plate to cool a little before removing the cloves.
Using a knife, carefully remove the smoked garlic cloves.
As we mentioned earlier, you can spread the smoked garlic directly on some bread with butter or olive oil as an appetizer, spread on your smoked baked potatoes or mix in with some smoked vegetables.
Or you can incorporate into another dish all together such as smoked garlic mashed potatoes!
- Smoker or Pellet grill -OR-
- Gas or Charcoal Grill setup for indirect heat
- Hickory, Mesquite, and/or Apple pellets, woodchips, or chunks
- Slicing Knife
- Cutting Board
- Basting brush
- Pairing Knife
- 1 Whole Head of Garlic
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt to taste
- Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
- Barbecue Rub Seasoning optional, to taste
Prepare and Season the Garlic
- Slice off just the top (stem part) of the whole head of garlic exposing the cloves inside.1 Whole Head of Garlic
- Brush on the Olive Oil on the top and all sides of the head of garlic1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Sprinkle with Kosher Salt and Pepper on top and all sides. Or, substitute your favorite BBQ rub with salt in it if you wish.Kosher Salt, Fresh Cracked Pepper, Barbecue Rub Seasoning
Set Up the Grill or Smoker
- Preheat the smoker, or grill setup for indirect cooking, to 180°F.
- If using a pellet grill, load the hopper with your chosen pellets, turn on the grill, and set the temperature for 180°F or the "Smoke" setting.
Smoke the Garlic
- Once the grill or smoker is near its temperature, add your wood chips, wood chunks, or pellets into a pellet tube smoker and place it over the direct heat and close the lid.
- Once the grill or smoker is up to 180°F and producing smoke, oil the grates with cooking oil well, and place the head of garlic onto the top rack of the smoker, or on the cool side of the grill. Use a grill basket or grill mat if needed.
- Smoke at 180°F for 2 hours. Rotate the garlic and add more smoking wood as needed.
Remove the Smoked Garlic Cloves
- Carefully remove the smoked garlic bulb from the grill or smoker using BBQ tongs and place somewhere to cool for 5-10 minutes..
- Using a sharp paring knife, remove each of the cloves from the head of garlic
- Spread the smoked garlic on potatoes or bread with butter or olive oil or incorporate into another recipe.