This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
You can't miss garlic scapes when their tangly bright green tendrils appear at farmers' markets in early spring. There are so many surprising ways to use them from raw to grilled, blended into pestos and sauces, or tossed into stir-fries and soups. If you've ever wondered, “what are garlic scapes”, here is everything you need to know about this versatile vegetable!
If you've ever seen garlic scapes at farmers' markets in June and wondered what to do with them, look no further. We're sharing everything you need to know (and more!) about this delightful springtime stalk.
Garlic scapes, sometimes called green garlic, are a foodie favorite, and for good reason. They have that familiar garlic flavor, but with a little more complexity, and without the in-your-face heat. They're fresh, easy to prepare, and nutritious, too.
Enjoy them grilled or sautéed as a simple side dish, blended into garlic scape pesto, baked in quiches, or anytime you want a little hit of garlicky green flavor.
What are garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes are the vibrant green stalks with buds on the end that grow from hardneck garlic plants. They appear in the spring and farmers usually harvest them so all the growing energy can be directed toward the garlic bulb.
What does green garlic taste like?
Raw garlic scapes have an unmistakable garlicky taste that's milder and more herbaceous than garlic cloves. They look a bit like twirly green beans or scallions and have a similar texture to asparagus.
They can be eaten raw or cooked and used in all sorts of different recipes like salads, dressings, pesto, or compounded into butter. When cooked, they have a sweet taste and more tenderness, similar to roasted garlic.
Where to buy garlic scapes
The most common place to find garlic scapes is at farmers' markets between late spring and early summer. You'll recognize their vibrant green color and tangly tendrils. With their increasing popularity, you may also find them at grocery stores and markets during their short growing season. They're also incredibly easy to grow from garlic bulbs in your garden!
What to look for when buying garlic scapes
Green garlic scapes can be woody, so before you buy them, take a look to see how fresh they are. They should be bright green from the bottom of the stem to the bud and look freshly harvested. If the ones you're using have any dried-out, fibrous parts near the bottom of the stem and near the flower bud, be sure to trim those off before using.
How to grow them
All you need to do to grow garlic scapes is to plant garlic. In the fall, plant cloves of garlic a few inches apart in their upright position a few weeks before the ground freezes. In the spring, you'll see green shoots start to rise above the ground and these are the garlic scapes.
When they spiral and the bud emerges, they're ready to be harvested. Simply cut the scape at its base where it comes out of the stalk. Later in the summer, your garlic bulb will be ready and you'll get two harvests from the same plant!
How to cook garlic scapes
You can use garlic scapes anytime you would normally use garlic or onions, but want a milder garlic flavor. Just be sure to trim off the fibrous end and the bud before cooking as those parts are inedible.
The simplest way to prepare garlic scapes is to sauté them with olive oil or butter, salt, and pepper. They also taste amazing on the grill where they soften and take on a light char. You can either keep them long and serve them as a simple side like you would green beans, or chop them into small pieces and serve them on salads, toss them into stir-fries, soups, or any other ways you can think of!
5 things to make with green garlic
Here are a few of our favorite green garlic recipes, and ways to use this versatile vegetable:
- Turn them into pesto – garlic scapes pesto is what put garlic scapes on every home chef's radar, and probably the most popular way to use them. All you need is a bit of olive oil, parmesan cheese, basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt. Blend up a big batch when they're in season and freeze it in portions for quick and healthy weeknight dinners!
- Make aioli – this garlic scapes aioli is one of our favorite ways to use garlic scapes. It's simple to make with just a few ingredients but it makes the most delicious dip or spread for vegetables, sandwiches, burgers, grilled kebabs, and more!
- Eggs – their mild and sweet garlicky flavor pairs perfectly with eggs in all forms. Quiche, frittata, or scrambles, you can't go wrong. Try tossing a few sautéed garlic scapes into this curried sweet potato frittata.
- Compounded butter – love garlic bread? You'll love it even more with garlic scape compound butter. We like to freeze it in a log and slice a bit off every time Italian food is on the menu. Go all out and try it with our homemade butter, a squeeze of lemon, and some fresh herbs to bring out the flavor!
- Pickle them – pickled garlic scapes taste like a garlicky pickled green bean. They're briny and delicious on their own, or as a garnish like in our best bloody caesar drink!
How to store garlic scapes
Garlic scapes are hardy and keep well in the fridge or freezer. To store them in your refrigerator, wrap them in a damp paper towel in a silicone storage bag. They'll keep well for at least a few weeks.
We like to buy extra when they're in season, freeze them, and use them all winter long. They add amazing garlicky flavor to stews, soups, and meat dishes. To freeze garlic scapes, simply lay them out on a baking sheet in the freezer, then store them in a silicone storage bag until you're ready to use them.