Toum/ Traditional Toum recipe/ Lebanese Garlic Sauce

Toum is a hearty and delicious Lebanese condiment, packed with garlicky flavor, that adds zest to almost everything. It is the best dipping sauce for your Shish Taouk or any other kebabs. You can also try rubbing some Toum on your roasted chicken this Christmas, it just lifts the meal to another level. I am a great fan of this Toum or Lebanese Garlic sauce/ Garlic paste also known as Aioli in French. Also try my other middle eastern recipes – Hummus, Falafel, Sweet Dumplings, Lebanese Pickles and the vibrant Vegetable salad.

It is different from Garlic Mayonnaise as Toum doesn’t have egg in it and has more garlicky flavours. If you are a garlic lover like me, this recipe is for keeps. For all garlic lovers, I can suggest a plenty of ways to use Toum.  Spread it on your sandwiches, or on a slice of bread and toast/ top it with little Cheese and oregano and bake. Toum and Pita Bread is another great combination and it can also be used in Chicken Shawarma, alongwith some Lebanese pickle, which takes it up a notch!  You can also add it to salad dressings, serve with fries and roast chicken, or whisk with little yoghurt and have with rotisserie chicken.  Again, just mix it up with some yoghurt or Mayo and serve it with almost everything! These are all great ideas for evening snacks, and kids would love it. Needless to say, Garlic is very nutritious and has great medicinal properties.

All said, it was not easy for me the first time. When my dear friend and Neighbour Devi, bragged about how she made Toum at home, I thought it was quite easy, but when I tried it was a total flop. The sauce broke and I had to throw it away with a heavy heart. However, I was not put off with this bleak failure, but did some research and tried making Toum a second time, and for some reason or other it broke again. I tried adding egg white to stabilize the sauce, but still couldn’t save it. Although I was miserable about losing so much oil and a bowl full of garlic, I was determined to make it right. This time, I made sure the garlic was pound with the salt for a longer period till I got a grainy, yet smooth paste and was careful while pouring oil. It took all my patience, but I was so excited and happy to see the final result.

Check out my popular special garlic recipes like stuffed garlic bread, crescent rolls, Garlic Mayonnaise, Chilli Garlic Fried rice etc. Homemade Pita Bread video recipe is here if you would like to try. Also, check my wonderful collection of savoury festive recipes like Chicken Momos, popcorn chicken, Meat rolls, Kerala style Duck recipes, Beef, Mutton, Chicken and Seafood specials to celebrate with family and friends. For now, here is the recipe for traditional Toum!

Ingredients for Traditional Lebanese Toum:

Garlic peeled

: ¾ cup – 1 cup (3 pods)


: ½ tsp

Oil – Canola/ Sunflower

: 1 cup

Lime Juice

: 1 tbsp

Ice water (if required)

: 1 tbsp



Toum is made with just Garlic, salt, oil and lemon juice. To start with, crush the garlic in a pestle and add salt. Crush till you get a grainy paste of garlic and salt. Transfer into a food processor. If you are taking more amount of garlic, you can straight away put in food processor. Scrape the sides and grind till you get a grainy paste.

Always take care while adding oil. If you add too quickly, the sauce will split and become runny, instead of being creamy. Therefore, add just 1 tsp oil to the paste, grind well for a minute and add 1 tsp again. Add few drops of lime juice and again little more oil in a thin, steady stream and in few minutes, it should come together making a white fluffy sauce. Keep the food processor running as you mix in the rest of oil and lime juice alternately in small batches. Make sure you get the starting right. Patience is the key. You need to wait till you get that fluffy sauce before you add more oil. Last, you can add ice water droplets to loosen the sauce if required. 

Toum / Traditional Labanese Garlic Sauce Toum / Traditional Labanese Garlic Sauce Toum / Traditional Labanese Garlic Sauce Toum / Traditional Labanese Garlic Sauce

In case the sauce does not come together in 5 minutes and the sauce looks runny, it means the sauce has broken. In that case, add 1 egg white to the sauce and beat to alleviate the runny sauce.

Use a food processor or even a hand blender to make Toum. I used a pestle to crush and grind the garlic first and used a hand blender to make the sauce. It came out well in few minutes. The advantage of hand blender is that you can see the sauce coming together. But you might need someone to help you with pouring oil.

Spoon it in an airtight glass container and refrigerate it for a month or more. Enjoy!

Tips for the perfect Toum:

  • Always use freshly peeled garlic.
  • You can use little ice water to make it loose if required. Add towards the end, after the sauce is formed to loosen it.
  • Use any flavourless oil. Olive oil can turn bitter after some time in the food processor, so use canola oil or any vegetable oil that is flavourless.
  • Add the oil and lemon juice very slowly to create an emulsion. If you add oil too quickly the sauce will break resulting in runny sauce.
  • Do not reduce the amount of garlic, it might taste too pungent but it mellows down after a few days.
  • Garlic and salt should be creamed for longer time to get the best results.
  • Toum can be made in a food processor or you can even use a hand blender.
  • You can store Toum in a glass container for one month or more in the refrigerator.

Please try this traditional Lebanese Toum and let me know how it turned out for you through comments and share with your friends using the share buttons on the sides. It would definitely encourage me. Thanks and God Bless!!

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