How to Make Restaurant-Quality Garlic Bread at Home
This gourmet version uses garlic three different ways.
Making garlic bread seems simple enough—slather some butter and garlic on a loaf of bread, wrap it in foil, toss it in the oven. Your kitchen will smell great, and the end result will always be pretty good, since nothing drenched in garlic and butter can ever really be bad. But what separates pretty good garlic bread from truly exceptional garlic bread are a few, simple steps, perfect for when you have a little extra time on your hands and are suddenly struck with a desire for greatness.
To better understand how to achieve restaurant-quality garlic bread at home, we turned to Marcie Turney, co-owner of Italian-American restaurant Little Nonna’s in Philadelphia. The garlic bread at Little Nonna’s is a customer favorite—and for good reason. It’s made on a Sarcone’s Bakery seeded loaf, using roasted garlic butter, and comes with an additional roasted garlic head for spreading.
For Turney, it’s all about getting your hands on the best type of bread, and she recommends a good quality, Italian long roll. “I’m not a fan of French baguette for garlic bread. For me, it’s too hard. It gets too crisp,” she says. “We use Sarcone’s Seeded Loaf, which has a nice crust on the outside, but is still a bit soft on the inside. That’s my favorite thing about garlic bread—after you toast it, it’s crisp, but still chewy.”
“The garlic butter is softened butter, raw garlic, roasted garlic, roasted garlic oil, Maldon sea salt, and black pepper,” Turney explains. That might sound like a lot of work to put together, but it’s really a matter of making the roasted garlic oil, which involves heating several garlic cloves in neutral oil for about 20 minutes in the oven. And the possibilities for this ingredient don’t stop at garlic bread. “Confit garlic oil is great in salad dressings, in meat or poultry marinades, for cooking eggs,” Turney says. “Really anywhere you would use olive oil.”
"That’s my favorite thing about garlic bread—after you toast it, it’s crisp, but still chewy.”
Once your garlic confit is ready, and you’ve incorporated it into your garlic butter, it’s time to spread it on the bread. “In the restaurant, the bread gets buttered twice,” Turney says. Slather it on before placing it on the pan, as well as once it’s done browning. Turney also proposes the option of heating the bread on an outside grill, as it will result in less clean up. “You can do it with the lid of your grill up. If there’s smoke, it’s not inside your home,” she says.
For extra garlicky goodness, you’ll want to roast a garlic head to serve on the side. To do this, simply cut off a half inch from the pointed end, place it in a piece of foil, cut-side-up, with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then wrap it all up and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. “If you kind of grab it from underneath and just push, the garlic will come right out the top without the paper,” Turney says.
As for garnishes, Turney likes to keep it simple. “We just finish it with parsley in the restaurant,” she says. “It’s mostly about the bread and all the ways of the garlic.”
Little Nonna's Garlic Bread
Yield: 4 Servings
- 1 loaf of good semolina sesame Italian loaf, cut into two 8" sections.
- Garlic butter
- Roasted garlic head
1. Slice the sections of bread lengthwise in half (You can reserve any remaining bread for another use).
2. Spread a thin layer of 2 teaspoons of garlic butter onto each of the four halves of Italian seeded loaf.
3. On the stovetop: Make sure the fan is on! Heat a nonstick 10" saute pan to medium heat.
4. In batches, place bread butter-side-down into the saute pan.
5. Place a small, 4" x 6" piece of aluminum foil loosely on top. Weigh down the bread by placing a small, clean saute pan on top of the foil.
6. Toast the bread for 3-5 minutes, until the bread is a nice dark golden brown. Set aside and repeat with the other 3 pieces.
7. When finished with all four pieces, spread another tablespoon of garlic butter on each slice.
8. Season each with two turns of pepper and a pinch of kosher salt.
9. Serve right away with the roasted garlic heads or wrap in foil and warm in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes before dinner is ready.
10. At Nonna's, we slice into triangles and shingle them on a plate. We drizzle olive oil around the plate, top with some chopped parsley, and serve with a warm head of roasted garlic!
- ¾ cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 3 cloves of garlic, hard end removed, minced
- 6 cloves of roasted garlic (from Garlic confit recipe below)
- 3 tablespoons roasted garlic oil (from Garlic confit recipe below)
- 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
- 3 turns or ⅛ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1. With a rubber spatula, fold all ingredients together until incorporated, and set aside.
- 2 cups neutral oil, such as canola
- ¾ cup garlic cloves, peeled and hard end removed
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place oil and garlic in a small, ovenproof container with at least 2" of space above level of oil. Place this container on a baking sheet tray. Place in oven.
3. Allow the garlic to confit for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the garlic clove can be easily smashed with a fork.
4. Remove baking tray and container of garlic confit and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
5. Strain the confit garlic oil from the confit garlic. Both can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Roasted garlic head
- 1 head of garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 turns of cracked pepper
1. Slice the top ½ inch from the pointed end of the head of garlic.
2. Place the garlic cut-side-up on a 7" x 7" piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Bring up the side of the foil together and roast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the garlic head is soft. Reserve.