How to Reduce Garlic Taste in Pesto (10 Ways)

Are you tired of your pesto tasting like a garlic bomb? Fear not, because we’ve got you covered!

In this article, we will show you 10 ways to tone down that overpowering garlic flavor and make your pesto more enjoyable.

From adjusting the quantity of garlic to using roasted garlic, blanching it, or even incorporating lemon juice or zest, these simple tips will transform your pesto into a perfectly balanced and delicious sauce.

So let’s dive in and discover the secrets to reducing the garlic taste in your pesto!

How to Reduce Garlic Taste in Pesto

Adjust the Garlic Quantity

To reduce the garlic taste in pesto, you should adjust the amount of garlic used. Start by using less garlic than the recipe calls for. Instead of using multiple cloves, try using just one or even half a clove. This will help to mellow out the strong flavor of the garlic.

You can always add more garlic later if you feel it needs it, but it’s easier to add more than to take away.

Another option is to roast the garlic before adding it to the pesto. Roasting garlic brings out a sweeter, more subtle flavor and reduces its pungency. Simply wrap a few cloves in foil, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Then, mash the roasted garlic and blend it into the pesto.

Adjusting the quantity of garlic is a simple and effective way to tame its strong taste in pesto.

Use Roasted Garlic Instead

Using roasted garlic in your recipe can help mellow out the strong flavor. Roasted garlic has a much milder taste compared to raw garlic, making it a great alternative if you want to reduce the intensity of garlic in your pesto.

To make roasted garlic, simply cut off the top of a whole garlic bulb, drizzle it with olive oil, and wrap it in foil. Then, roast it in the oven until the cloves become soft and golden brown. Once roasted, the garlic cloves will have a sweet and caramelized flavor that adds depth to your pesto without overpowering it.

Blanch the Garlic Before Adding

If you’re looking for a way to soften the flavor of the garlic in your recipe, consider blanching it before adding it to your dish.

Blanching is a simple technique that involves briefly boiling garlic cloves in hot water and then immediately plunging them into ice water to stop the cooking process.

This method helps mellow the strong and pungent taste of raw garlic, making it more mild and subtle in your dish.

To blanch garlic, peel the cloves and place them in a pot of boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Then, remove them and transfer them to a bowl of ice water for a few minutes.

Once blanched, you can add the garlic to your recipe, whether it’s a sauce, soup, or marinade, and enjoy a milder garlic flavor.

Mix in Lemon Juice or Zest

For a tangy twist, mix in some lemon juice or zest to brighten up the flavors of your dish. Adding lemon to your pesto can help balance out the strong taste of garlic and give it a refreshing kick.

Start by squeezing a generous amount of lemon juice into your pesto mixture. The acidity of the juice will help cut through the intensity of the garlic, making it more palatable.

If you prefer a subtler lemon flavor, you can also grate some lemon zest into the pesto. The zest contains essential oils that will infuse your dish with a subtle citrusy aroma.

Be sure to taste as you go, adjusting the amount of lemon juice or zest to suit your preferences.

Incorporate More Basil or Other Herbs

Incorporating more basil or other herbs adds a fresh and aromatic element to your dish. Not only does it enhance the flavors, but it also helps to balance out the strong taste of garlic in your pesto.

By increasing the amount of basil or adding in other herbs such as parsley or cilantro, you can create a more well-rounded and balanced flavor profile. These herbs provide a delicate and refreshing touch, counteracting the pungency of garlic.

You can either increase the proportion of basil to garlic or experiment with different herb combinations to find the perfect balance for your taste buds.

Add a Splash of Vinegar or White Wine

To elevate your dish, try splashing a bit of vinegar or white wine for an added tangy kick.

When you find that the garlic taste in your pesto is overpowering, a simple solution is to incorporate some acidity. Adding a splash of vinegar or white wine can help balance out the strong garlic flavor and give your pesto a more well-rounded taste.

The acidity in the vinegar or wine cuts through the intensity of the garlic and adds a refreshing tanginess to the dish. Be sure to use a high-quality vinegar or white wine to achieve the best results.

Start with a small amount and gradually add more until you achieve the desired level of tanginess. This simple tip can take your pesto from good to great in no time.

Experiment With Different Nut Options

Try experimenting with various types of nuts to add a unique twist to your pesto. Nuts not only enhance the flavor, but they also help to balance out the strong taste of garlic.

Almonds, walnuts, and pine nuts are popular choices, but why not step out of your comfort zone and try something different? Cashews add a creamy texture, while pistachios bring a hint of sweetness. Macadamia nuts offer a rich and buttery flavor, perfect for those looking for a luxurious twist.

Brazil nuts add a subtle nuttiness, and hazelnuts provide a deliciously earthy taste. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different nuts to find your perfect combination. The possibilities are endless, and you might just discover a new favorite pesto flavor!

Substitute Some of the Garlic With Shallots or Onions

Now that you’ve experimented with different nut options in your pesto, let’s move on to another way to reduce the strong garlic taste.

You can try substituting some of the garlic with shallots or onions. Shallots and onions have a milder flavor compared to garlic, so they can help balance out the taste without overpowering it. Simply chop them finely and add them to your pesto mixture.

Start with a small amount and gradually increase if needed, so that you can find the right balance for your taste. This substitution will add a slightly different flavor profile to your pesto, but it can be a great way to tone down the garlic and create a more subtle and enjoyable taste.

Give it a try and see how it transforms your pesto!

Soak the Garlic in Milk or Water

Soaking the garlic in milk or water can help mellow out its strong flavor. When you find that the taste of garlic in your pesto is a bit overpowering, try this simple trick.

Start by peeling and crushing the garlic cloves as usual. Then, place them in a bowl and cover them with either milk or water. Let the garlic soak for about 10 minutes before using it in your pesto recipe. The liquid will help to remove some of the pungent compounds, resulting in a milder taste.

After soaking, drain the garlic and proceed with making your pesto as usual. You’ll notice that the flavor of the garlic is much subtler, allowing the other ingredients in the pesto to shine through.

Give it a try and see the difference it makes in your next batch of pesto!

Balance the Flavors With a Touch of Sweetness

To balance the flavors of your dish, add a touch of sweetness to complement the other ingredients.

When trying to reduce the overpowering taste of garlic in your pesto, incorporating a hint of sweetness can help create a more harmonious flavor profile.

One way to achieve this is by adding a small amount of honey or maple syrup to your pesto recipe. These natural sweeteners will help counterbalance the strong garlic flavor and create a more well-rounded taste.

Start by adding a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup to your pesto mixture and taste as you go. Adjust the amount according to your preference, keeping in mind that a little sweetness goes a long way.

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Ben, a culinary enthusiast and owner of, shares his passion for food and cooking through delectable recipes and valuable tips. Ben delights in exploring international cuisines and inspiring home cooks on their culinary journeys.

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