My Lebanese family's easy-to-follow, never-fail, traditional fluffy toum recipe. This creamy garlic dipping sauce can be used in shawarma, pasta, fries, and more. It is super garlicky! Suitable for a vegan and gluten-free diet.
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What is Lebanese Toum?
Toum is a Lebanese garlic sauce that is made with garlic, lemon juice, salt, and vegetable oil.
It has a smooth, creamy, and fluffy texture and a strong garlic flavor. It’s the crown jewel of Lebanese condiments.
Toum is often served as a garlic dipping sauce or as a kebab sauce.
It can almost always be found on a Lebanese mezze table.
(I’d like to take a moment to appreciate our elders, who used to make this by hand (mortar & pestle) - even my mom back in the day)
How To Pronounce Toum?
Toum is pronounced as "toom", the "u" is silent. The "ou" is pronounced as a long "oo", like in the word "oops". There is an emphasis on the "t" sound at the start of the word.
😋Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It’s a never-fail recipe - works every time!
- Stores for months in the fridge
- Pairs well with so many foods. Can be used as a garlic dipping sauce, as garlic kebab sauce, as a sauce for pasta, in bakes, in vegan salads and so much more
- It is super garlicky!
- Naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free (vegan), and nut free
🧄 Ingredients You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Garlic is best used in its fresh form, this will yield the best and strongest flavor. Select good quality firm bulbs and take out any of the green parts.
Add the peeled cloves directly into the blender/food processor/immersion blender.
If you must, frozen garlic is okay to use. DO NOT use garlic powder.
Oil should be neutral such as sunflower, canola, or vegetable oil. It is best to avoid heavy oils such as olive oil.
Lemon juice should be freshly squeezed. It helps to flavor (a nice light sourness), binding, and brightens this garlic dipping sauce. Only add a tablespoon at a time until all is used up.
Salt helps to boost the flavor and break down the garlic in step 1.
🧄How to Make Garlic Dipping Sauce
Step 1 - Place garlic and salt into a food processor (affiliate link) or an immersion blender and pulse until garlic is finely minced (this is no more than a minute) You will need to scrape the sides of the food processor/blender, to ensure even mincing.
Step 2 - If using a food processor, drizzle a ¼ cup of oil via a very fine pour line (hairlike - DO NOT pour in oil) blend until it starts to thicken, once this happens add a tablespoon of lemon juice and blend to start the emulsification process.
Drizzle in another ¼ cup of oil and then a tablespoon of lemon juice, repeat this process until all is used up.
Step 2 - If using an immersion blender, add one tablespoon of oil and blend until it starts to thicken, then add another tablespoon of oil and blend for another minute. Repeat this once more. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and blend until completely blended.
From here on you’ll want to add a 4:1 ratio of oil:lemon juice, i.e., blend a tablespoon of oil four times (not together) and then add in the lemon juice. Continue to do this until all have been used up.
Tip - During the last blending phase, the toum becomes thick and fluffy, able to hold peaks. Because of this, when pouring the oil in, it will pool at the top, you will need to help it by mixing it through with a spatula and then blending.
Step 3 - Transfer the toum into a jar, allow it to cool down to room temperature, and then seal (making sure it is airtight) and store in the refrigerator for a couple of months.
Tip: Following the process of blending the ingredients together is vital to the success of this garlic dipping sauce. Don’t take shortcuts.
Avoid water at all costs. Ensure the area, utensils, and equipment you are using to make your toum is free from water. Water will separate the oil.
About halfway into blending you will notice the blender starts to sound a little different, this is normal, as it is at this point the paste starts to lighten up.
🥙What To Eat With Garlic Dipping Sauce
Here are some other suggestions for what toum is used for;
- As a spread in a sandwich
- On the side with grilled vegetables
- Make fresh crusty garlic bread, smear it on your bread rolls, and bake in the oven, try it on vegan dinner rolls.
- Add it to pasta sauces, and try adding a dollop of toum to avocado cilantro lime dressing replacing the garlic clove in that recipe.
- With roasts, check out this list of different vegan roasts including sauces and sides.
- This garlic dipping sauce for pizza is the best! Simply smear it onto your vegan pizza dough base, add toppings, and bake.
Toum is part of this list of the Best Lebanese Side Dishes.
❄️ How to Store Garlic Dipping Sauce
Once you're happy with the consistency of your garlic dipping sauce, allow it to cool down to room temperature (sometimes the blender heats up) before sealing it in a container as condensation drops may cause separation.
Toum will keep in the fridge for a couple of months stored in an airtight container.
Traditionally toum was made with mortar and pestle, which can take up to an hour to prepare and requires continuous effort. The texture may not be as fluffy.
Here's how to make toum with a mortar and pestle:
1. In the mortar, sprinkle the salt over the garlic and crush it with the pestle until it forms a paste.
2. Add a few drops of lemon juice to the garlic paste and mix it until it is fully incorporated. Continue adding lemon juice and mixing until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.
3. Slowly and gradually add the vegetable oil in a thin stream, while continuing to mix with the pestle.
Keep mixing and adding oil until the Toum becomes thick and glossy.
There are a few reasons why toum can separate whilst making it, here are some possible causes;
1. Either too much oil was added too quickly during the emulsification process
2. Water is present in the mix, there should be no water present
3. Too much lemon juice was added to quickly
4. The food processor became too hot resulting in the mixture breaking.
Yes and no. Some homemade toum recipes can be vegan, containing only plant-based ingredients such as garlic, salt, lemon juice, and vegetable oil. However, some like to add eggs.
Some store-bought Toum products may contain non-vegan ingredients. It is important to carefully read the labels and look for ingredients or logos that indicate vegan certification.
Here are some ingredients to watch out for when buying store-bought toum:
Dairy - some brands may include milk or milk-containing ingredients.
Preservatives and additives - some of these may not be derived from plants.
Natural flavors - also may not be plant-derived.
Sugar - while it comes from a plant source, some processing methods may use bone char (animal bones) to make it white.
Even vegan-friendly ingredients may have trace amounts of animal products from the manufacturing process or equipment. Therefore, it is helpful to look for vegan certification logos on the labeling to ensure that the product is truly vegan.
Otherwise, another Lebanese sauce is tarator, a creamy shawarma sauce made with tahini.
Or learn how to roast garlic.
Garlic Dipping Sauce (Lebanese Toum)
- ½ cup Garlic cloves peeled
- 1½ cups Vegetable oil or any neutral oil
- ½ medium - large Lemon (juice) freshly squeezed
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- Place garlic and salt into a food processor or an immersion blender and pulse until garlic is finely minced (this is no more than a minute, you'll need to scrape down the sides and blend to ensure garlic is evenly minced)½ cup Garlic cloves, ¼ teaspoon Salt
Hand held / immersion blender
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil every thirty seconds and blend well before adding the next lot. Repeat this 3 times then add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. Repeat until all is blended.1½ cups Vegetable oil, ½ medium - large Lemon (juice)
Blender / Food processor
- Continually drizzle oil (hairlike pour) into blender / food processor. Every so often, add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice. (DO NOT over add - this will cause the sauce to break up) Continue to add oil and lemon juice until all blended.1½ cups Vegetable oil, ½ medium - large Lemon (juice)
- Seal in an airtight jar and store in the refrigerator for a couple of months.
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.