toum, a middle eastern garlic sauce

Toum is simply a garlic sauce that hails from the Middle East and consists of no more than garlic, lemon, oil and salt. It’s very similar to the Mediterranean region’s aioli and what is often referred to simply as garlic sauce here in North America.  If you’ve had a bite to eat at a Lebanese restaurant, you’re sure to have had some!

Toum, a Middle Eastern garlic sauce | conifères & feuillusToum is one of my favourite sauces throughout the year but especially during these wintry months when my herb garden is covered under a blanket of snow and ice. It’s perfect as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables, grilled meats or as a condiment in a burger or pita. Both garlic and lemon can add a boost of flavour to any dish and together the result is doubly amazing.

Toum, a Middle Eastern garlic sauce | conifères & feuillus

Although consisting of so few ingredients, getting this garlic sauce just right can be a bit tricky. There is quite some chemistry involved in blending oil and water (and lemon juice in this case) into a creamy mixture. I learnt this recipe from my Lebanese friend’s mom and although she made it look so easy, my first few attempts were a complete flop… although it still tasted good! Following the exact quantities is crucial here, as is the process. I recently switched to using sunflower oil instead of canola and find that this adds a nice flavour and still blends just as well.

Toum, a Middle Eastern garlic sauce | conifères & feuillus


Note: This recipe is for a small quantity and using an immersion blender is a must; there is too little quantity here to warrant the use of a large food processor.

(yields just over 1 cup)

  • 200 g (1 cup) sunflower oil
  • 20 g garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Place all the ingredients into the cylindrical blending jar that comes with an immersion blender. At the fastest setting of the immersion blender, blend all ingredients until homogeneous. While blending, be sure to raise and lower the blender within the mixture to allow for air to incorporate into the mixture. This will blend the ingredients into a creamy mixture!
  2. Chill for a few hours until set.



15 thoughts on “toum, a middle eastern garlic sauce

  1. Can you use avocado oil or garlic oil instead of sunflower or canola? Those are the only oils I can have at the moment!

    1. Hi, I wouldn’t advise it… I should update this post to stress how crucial it is to use good quality sunflower oil to obtain the creamy consistency you see in the photos. Recently, after a friend complained about her lack of success with this recipe, I did a few trials with a lower quality sunflower oil and could not achieve the same end result. I use the sunflower oil in the photos. If you do try with the other oils, I would be curious to know how it turns out, I am sure it will taste good but perhaps not the same texture.

  2. This sounds fantastic! I might go light with it but my husband would put that on everything. Lord help us all!!!

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