The Garlickiest Garlic Bread Only Needs 5 Ingredients

June  5, 2018

A Big Little Recipe has the smallest-possible ingredient list and big, BIG everything else: flavor, ideas, wow factor. Psst: We don't count salt or cooking fat (say, olive oil to sauté onions), since we're guessing you have those covered. This time, we're whipping up the garlickiest garlic bread that ever was.

For some, it isn’t summer without an ocean. Without lemonade. Mosquito bites. That white, cotton dress. For others, it isn’t summer without a sunburn. A getaway. Ice cream melting down wrists. And forearms. And elbows.

But for me, it isn’t summer without garlic bread.

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It doesn’t matter what goes with it. For most of my childhood, most of my family’s July and August dinners started on the grill. Maybe it was burgers or dogs, steak or shrimp, zucchini or onion. One time, it was a sausage that a seagull swooped down and stole between her beak. In any case, garlic bread goes perfectly with all of this.

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Top Comment:
“I make a big pot with white wine, lots of garlic and butter. Going to use the bread for soaking up all the yummy goodness. Thank you!!”
— Katherine L.

We never used a recipe, just: Whatever bread was nearby, fresh from a bakery, or about to start molding on the kitchen counter. Butter, fresh garlic, usually herbs, maybe cheese. When my brother decided to become kosher as a teenager, we swapped out the butter for olive oil and dropped the cheese. But I always missed both.

Garlic bread is a source of great pride at Italian-American restaurants, of which my home state, New Jersey, has no shortage. The best versions are a balancing act: Between crusty edges and fluffy centers. Rich butter and spicy garlic. Fresh herbs and salty cheese. If your fingers don’t leave the whole shindig slick and shiny, like a brand new car, you’re doing it wrong.

Do you want some bread with your garlic? Photo by Rocky Luten

Even more than buttery, though, I want it to be garlicky. When a recipe title promises something, anything, I want all that and more. If you say coconut cream pie, well, it better be the coconuttiest. And if you say garlic bread, the garlickiest.

The good news here? That doesn’t mean any extra ingredients. It just means extra garlic. Depending on the recipe, this star ingredient can arrive in various outfits: garlic powder or granulated garlic (which are not, actually, the same thing—both are dehydrated, then ground to different finenesses). Garlic salt (either of the former plus salt, depending on the brand). And fresh garlic.

Because this is Big Little Recipes, we’ll pick one, then wring it for all its worth. The most adaptable of the bunch, by far, is fresh garlic. My family minced this up, mixed with butter, smeared on bread, and baked in the oven until toasty.

Trying very, very hard not to eat all those caramelized garlic cloves. Photo by Rocky Luten

We’ll do just that. Except it won’t be just butter. It’ll be garlic confit butter. Can you tell I’m smiling as I write this? I just can’t help it. Garlic confit butter! “Confit” is a French word for preserved food, done so by slooowly cooking in a liquid, often fat. Classic duck confit is duck cooked in duck fat. Here, we’re doing a fuss-free, streamlined version:

Basically, you melt butter in a little saucepan or skillet, and add some garlic cloves. Okay, a lot of garlic cloves. Okay, two heads’ worth of garlic cloves. Simmer for 45 minutes until both the butter and garlic are golden and coppery and soft and sweet enough to eat all on their own.

This counts as dinner, right? Photo by Rocky Luten

But don’t. This garlic butter becomes the foundation for all the usual suspects: minced raw garlic (yes, more!), fresh parsley, and a big pinch of salt. I like to smear it on a rustic, airy Italian-style loaf, like a ciabatta, versus a more sturdy-crusted, French-style bread, like a baguette. Garlic bread should be crackly and crispy, but still tender enough to tear with your hands, scarf down without poking the roof of your mouth.

If any leftovers should survive, save them for tomorrow’s sandwiches. This hasn’t happened for me yet, but we have the whole summer to try.

What's your favorite thing to serve with garlic bread? Tell us in the comments!

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Jeanne G. June 28, 2020
Can I use equal amounts of EVOO unsalted butter instead of all butter when making the Garlic Confit?
Emma L. June 29, 2020
Hi! I haven't tried this garlic confit with all olive oil, but imagine it would work. But just might want to adjust how much you put on the bread, depending on the consistency. If you give it a go, please report back!
Katherine L. February 4, 2020
Sounds delicious, that would go perfectly with steamed mussels. I make a big pot with white wine, lots of garlic and butter. Going to use the bread for soaking up all the yummy goodness. Thank you!!
judy B. February 4, 2020
Garlic bread, always, with one of the best things I ever ate: Curried mussels from New Scenic Cafe outside of Duluth, MN.
Dycapaldi May 14, 2019
Best site I have come across about food
Mary C. July 15, 2018
I'm a traditionalist, I guess. I love garlic bread dipped in a house-made marinara. Bonus for garlicky marinara!
Kt4 July 1, 2018
Love the massive amount of different garlics you have going on here!!
I've never understood when told I should merely rub the cut side of 1 garlic clove over the bread, then butter it & broil. How in the world does that leave any garlic flavor, let alone make bread garlicky enough to call it Garlic Bread??
Sherri June 9, 2018
My favorite thing to eat with good garlic bread is breakfast!- dippy eggs and bacon. It may be a little weird, but it's so utterly delicious!
Alice W. April 9, 2019
🤤 Oh my goodness that sounds like an awesome idea!!
Ivan B. June 5, 2018
Lol, the garlikiest garlic bread has “only” five ingredients? And not counting salt and oil....How many ingredients does garlic bread usually have?