How to make easy buttery garlic bread

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How to make easy buttery garlic bread
Garlic, butter, and bread is all you need for great garlic bread, but you can punch it up with fresh herbs, cheese, and chili flakes. jabiru/Getty Images
  • A good crusty loaf of bread, softened butter, and fresh garlic are all you need to make garlic bread.
  • Use the "Hasselback" technique for delicious, buttery garlic bread without the mess.
  • For a sweet, mellow flavor, roast fresh garlic before mixing it with softened butter.

Warm garlic bread makes a delicious addition to almost any meal. It also gives family members that extra motivation to make it to the table on time on an ordinary night.

Susan Reid, senior recipe tester for King Arthur Baking Company and former food editor for Sift Magazine says the secret to superb, versus merely serveable, garlic bread lies in focusing on the quality of a few main ingredients. Learn how to elevate your garlic bread game with tips and techniques from the test kitchen chef.

What you need

  • Unsliced loaf of crusty bread

  • 1 stick (½ cup) salted butter, softened

  • Fresh garlic (roasted, minced, or crushed)

  • Cutting board

  • Serrated bread knife

  • Aluminum foil

  • Baking sheet

How to make garlic bread

How to make easy buttery garlic bread
Slice 3/4 of the way through the loaf then stuff the slits with a generous amount of garlic butter. Arx0nt/Getty Images

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  1. Preheat the oven. Set it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prep the garlic. Roast, mince, or crush fresh garlic. Choose the preparation according to your personal preference. Roasted garlic will have a sweeter, mellower flavor than fresh minced or crushed garlic. Use 4 cloves of roasted or crushed garlic or 2 tablespoons of minced garlic for ½ cup butter.
  3. Make the butter mixture. Combine the prepared garlic with the softened butter and set aside.
  4. Slice the bread. Place the unsliced loaf of bread on a cutting board. With a serrated bread knife, make slices in the bread, ¾ of the way down, from top to bottom. Repeat at 1- to 2-inch intervals down the entire loaf. "This is the bread version of the Hasselback potato technique," says Reid. "The solid bottom keeps the butter from running out all over the place and having slices of bread sitting in a greasy puddle inside the foil wrapper."
  5. Butter it up. Generously spread the mixed garlic butter into each slit in the bread.
  6. Wrap in foil. Wrap the entire loaf in aluminum foil, sealing the foil tightly at the ends to make handles. Place the foil-wrapped bread on a baking sheet, and put the sheet on the center oven rack.
  7. Bake until warm inside and slightly toasted on the edges. This should take approximately 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Check the bread after 10 minutes to assess its progress and adjust the total baking time as needed. When toasty, remove from the oven.
  8. Slice and serve. Unwrap the foil, and place the bread on a clean cutting board. Using a serrated bread knife, slice through each of the ¾ cut slices completely, until slices are separated, and serve.

Quick tip: To roast garlic, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate the cloves from one head of garlic, trim the ends, and toss them, unpeeled, in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cloves are soft. Remove from the oven and let cool. Don't forget to remove the peels before using.

What garlic preparation should you choose?

"Those who like a stronger garlic taste can go with minced or crushed garlic," suggests Reid. The longer garlic sits after it's cut, the stronger the flavor will be, she explains. So if you prefer fresh garlic, but don't want it to be overwhelming, move quickly once you mince.

If you prefer a sweet, mellow garlic taste, roast the garlic, says Reid. Roasted garlic is also easier to mix with butter, she adds, so if you're looking for a simplified plan-ahead method for making garlic bread, this is a good preparation to choose.

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Quick tip: If you find fresh garlic too strong, you can use garlic powder. While Reid frowns upon powdered garlic, harried home cooks may reach for it in a pinch. Aim for a ratio of 1 teaspoon of garlic powder to ⅓ cup of softened butter.

Tips for making the best garlic bread

How to make easy buttery garlic bread
Slice the bread into a grid pattern and stuff with cheese for a pull-apart garlic bread. bhofack2/Getty Images

  • Use good ingredients. For even better buttery flavor, splurge on a nice cultured butter. Buy a fresh-baked loaf of bread from your local bakery.
  • Gussy up your garlic bread with cheese, herbs, or spice. "To up your game, add parmesan cheese, chopped fresh or dried mixed Italian herbs, or for the pizzeria touch, a sprinkle of dried red pepper flakes," says Reid.
  • Grill your bread instead. "This is a great base for a tapenade or even a smear of sundried tomato pesto," says Reid. "Sprinkle with mixed Italian cheeses and half the meal is made." Grill bread for approximately two minutes on each side before garnishing, she advises.
  • Grate instead of mince. If you prefer an intense taste of garlic, you could use a Microplane grater to grate the garlic. "The blades are so sharp that it would make a cleaner cut and taste better than crushed garlic, in my opinion," says Reid.

How to store and reheat garlic bread

Store uneaten foil-wrapped baked garlic bread on the kitchen counter for up to two days.

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You can also freeze baked garlic bread. Wrap cooled bread in a layer of plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil, and freeze. To reheat garlic bread in an oven, cook foil-wrapped bread at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, for 10-15 minutes, or until warm.

In the microwave, reheat individual slices of garlic bread for 10 seconds on high heat.

Insider's takeaway

Fresh-baked garlic bread makes your home smell amazing. An unsliced loaf of good quality crusty bread, real butter, and fresh garlic are all you need to elevate an everyday meal to an extra special one. Roast fresh garlic for a sweet mellow flavor, or for a more intense flavor, mince or grate garlic. Add cheese, fresh herbs, and chili flakes to garlic bread to make it a mealtime superstar.

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