Toum (Lebanese Garlic Sauce)

Oh, this stuff.  We used to live near Dearborn MI) and had easy access to Lebanese food.  With every meal came pita bread and the garlic sauce with the mayo-like consistency.  There seem to be two varieties (that I noticed – we didn’t eat at every place out there but we did try our fair share of Lebanese restaurants during the years we were close).  The stuff that I came to know and love as a traditional sauce, and then I noticed on restaurant carried a sweeter variety that I didn’t really care for.  After trying many different recipes and techniques, and wasting gallons of oil in the process, I finally found a technique and a recipe that produced true every time – and tasted exactly like the stuff we would crave.  We would buy several cups at a time at some Lebanese bakeries and the pita to go with it just to snack on.  When I first made this recipe I jumped up and down with excitement.  It’s one thing to make something that is really good – but I get very excited when I can re-create a favorite meal or snack in my own kitchen for a fraction of the cost.  We don’t eat out often, so being able to bring the restaurant to my kitchen is an exciting thing.  Now we have moved far away and there are no Lebanese restaurants within reasonable driving distance, so I am very happy to be able to recreate a few dishes here at home.

I have made this in a blender, food processor, and immersion blender.  I had the very best luck with a normal blender and the immersion blender.  If using a food processor you need to add the oil very slowly – drop by drop, or add oil in a very thin stream, pausing the stream every few seconds to allow the oil to become completely incorporated before adding more.  Too much oil at the wrong time or too quick will ruin this.

I had consistent results when using room temperature ingredients.  I’m not positive that is important for emulsification to occur (for the oil and other liquids to combine).  I use raw eggs from my chickens, and the fresh eggs are kept on my counter in an egg basket until used – so everything has always been at room temperature.

Some garlic can be more potent than others.  Some garlic cloves are much bigger than others.  Use your own discretion as far as how many garlic to use – I like 5 medium sized cloves.  Not teeny tiny, but not the huge cloves found on elephant garlic.  If the taste is too strong, try adding a bit more oil.

Use a squeeze bottle, peri-bottle or some other lidded container that is easy to control the speed at which the oil can be squeezed out to avoid mishaps.  Sometimes if I am using a measuring cup, I put too much in at once and ruin the batch.


  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 egg white
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  •  pinch of salt
  • about half a cup of water in ice – you may only use 1-2 tb
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil


  • Peel the garlic and place them in the blender with 1/4 lemon juice and a good pinch of salt.  Blend the garlic up, stopping and scraping the sides a few times until the garlic is pulverized pretty good.
  • Add the egg white and then slowly add half of the oil in a thinnish stream.  You should see the emulsification fairly quickly in a blender – the mixture will take on the texture of mayonnaise.  At this point, slow the speed of your blender, if you can, and add the remaining lemon juice and oil, then enough water to reach the proper consistency you like.  This may be as little as 1tb or maybe a little more.  Ice cold water is necessary.
  • Enjoy!

If you find that when you add the oil the mixture does not get fluffy, you may take half the mixture out, add another egg white, then slowly pour the other half back in as you blend, kind of like you are starting over.  This may take a few times to practice.  I wasted a gallon or two of oil over the years trying to achieve the proper toum.  But many of those recipes were different each time, this is the only one that has performed so well most times.  Even now I occasionally have a bad batch if I add too much oil to quick.

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