13 Mistakes Everyone Makes With Homemade Garlic Bread, According To A Chef

Sliced garlic bread and butter
Sliced garlic bread and butter - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Although it's commonly enjoyed as a side to main courses, garlic bread has a unique ability to steal the spotlight. Despite its simple composition, many details must be managed when you make it. Unfortunately, this means you can easily ruin it by making mistakes during the preparation, ingredient selection, and toasting processes.

As a professional chef, I faced these challenges firsthand when making garlic bread for various menus. Creating high-quality food for my customers was extremely important to me, so I was determined to avoid certain errors and adjust the recipe until I created truly exceptional garlic bread, complete with a warm, soft, and buttery surface that glistened, savory flavor with refreshing hints of herbs, and crispy edges. You know, the kind of garlic bread you dream of. If you want to achieve this too, I can help you get there. The first step is to avoid the following 13 mistakes.

Read more: The 18 Unhealthiest Store-Bought Sliced Breads You Can Buy

Failing To Use Fresh Garlic

Garlic powder and cloves
Garlic powder and cloves - Everyday Better To Do Everything You Love/Getty Images

Although it's undoubtedly easier to shake a jar of garlic powder over buttered bread and call it a day, you miss out on dimensions of flavor when you do so. The convenience of dried garlic products simply doesn't outweigh the importance of quality. The only way to produce garlic bread with robust flavor is to use fresh garlic.

I'm not talking about the pre-minced stuff you can find in stores, either. Sure, it's technically fresher because it isn't dehydrated, but it still doesn't compare. It often has a bitter and slightly off flavor, which becomes apparent in this minimal dish. Many of the jars also contain preservatives. You might be able to get away with using these garlic products in soups or other dishes, but not here, where garlic stars. So, take the time to purchase whole bulbs, either from your local grocery store or a farmers market, and mince them yourself.

Using Too Much Or Not Enough Seasoning

Garlic bread with seasonings
Garlic bread with seasonings - Apomares/Getty Images

We've all experienced garlic bread that is either too bland or overpowering in flavor. Making flavorless garlic bread is a slightly better stare of affairs, because you can add more seasonings to fix it. On the other hand, if it's over-seasoned, there's not much you can do about it. How does one find balance? Care and thoughtfulness.

A lot of it comes down to salt. It's important to be cautious when adding this ingredient. Sometimes, people forget they don't need to include salt in their recipe when using salted butter, which can lead to an unpleasant taste. However, when used correctly, salt enhances the garlic and cheese flavor. So, be sure to add ¼ teaspoon of salt for every ½ cup of butter, if it is unsalted.

What about the other seasonings? If you're not up for sampling the recipe as you go, you can always sprinkle spices and herbs like black pepper, cayenne, or chili powder on top of the bread instead of mixing them into the butter. This way, it's easier to see how much each slice actually contains. Ultimately, though, the smartest move is to follow an easy garlic bread recipe so you can trust that the flavor will be correct.

Not Knowing How To Select The Best Garlic

Person's hand selecting fresh garlic
Person's hand selecting fresh garlic - Kanawa_studio/Getty Images

Making homemade garlic bread can easily become a nightmare if you try to use old garlic. After all, it is the primary ingredient in the recipe, so its quality massively impacts the dish's overall taste. Some people might not be picky when choosing theirs, and assume age isn't a factor. However, just like any other produce department item, garlic can spoil. Moreover, just because it's on store shelves doesn't mean it is of the best quality.

Knowing which characteristics to look for and avoid is vital to having the finest garlic for your recipe. For starters, you shouldn't buy garlic that smells like garlic. Believe it or not, if it's fresh, it has no potent odor. So, test the garlic's scent when shopping. Furthermore, the texture and appearance are also a helpful indicator of how fresh it is. Stay away from garlic bulbs that are shriveled, dried out, or mushy (you can give them a gentle squeeze). You're good to go once you find firm bulbs nicely covered by their skin and containing no funky smells.

Not Adding Cheese

Cheesy baked garlic bread slices
Cheesy baked garlic bread slices - Bhofack2/Getty Images

Cheese is an optional ingredient when making garlic bread. However, it's typically a mistake not to include it, because its savory and nutty flavors pair incredibly well with garlic. Moreover, it also upgrades the texture. This is why you can find it in nearly every great garlic bread recipe.

Cheese that melts can give you that perfect cheese pull, while grated products can add a wonderful coarse texture. You don't have to add a ridiculous amount, just enough for some zing. If you want a classic option for grated cheese, choose parmesan or Romano, which have distinguished flavor profiles. Parmesan tends to be nuttier, while Romano is bolder, with natural saltiness. Mix either type (or both) directly into the butter spread and toast the bread as usual.

If you prefer cheeses that melt, consider mozzarella, gouda, or gruyère. For this technique, heat the garlic bread without the cheese for most of the cooking time. Then, temporarily remove it from the oven, sprinkle on the cheese, then return it to the heat. Continue to cook until the top of your bread is melted and the edges are golden brown. If you want the cheese to be brown too, use your broiler to take it up a notch. Keep an eye on it, though; it doesn't take long to turn into a burnt hunk of carbon if you're not careful.

Skipping Out On Fresh Herbs

Garlic bread with fresh herbs
Garlic bread with fresh herbs - Vladimir Mironov/Getty Images

Just as fresh garlic is superior to dried, fresh herbs are your best bet when making garlic bread. While it's acceptable to use some dried herbs, especially if you plan to use a variety, it's a mistake not to use at least one or two fresh ones. Not only do they have a more lively flavor, they also have a more vibrant look. Giving your garlic bread a pop of green makes it more appealing to the eye, especially when compared to the muted tones of dehydrated herbs.

If you're unsure which herbs generally suit garlic bread, know that you can never go wrong with parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, or rosemary. Once you decide which herbs you want to include, you can figure out which will be fresh and which will be dry. Soft herbs such as basil and parsley are fantastic when fresh. They upgrade the presentation and have clean and peppery tastes, with basil being slightly sweeter. To use them, finely chop and mix them into the butter spread before applying it to the bread. Alternatively, you can sprinkle them on top of the bread after it comes out of the oven to preserve their color.

Chopping The Garlic Into Large Pieces

Person cutting garlic cloves
Person cutting garlic cloves - Gmvozd/Getty Images

One of the worst errors you can make with garlic bread is using big garlic bits instead of finely minced or pressed garlic. First, chunky pieces are an issue because the flavor doesn't evenly distribute. When you bite into the bread, some bites contain no garlic, while others are overpowering. Moreover, the taste and texture aren't pleasant, especially if you toast the garlic bread quickly. The larger pieces don't have enough time to cook thoroughly, giving the bread a too-pungent flavor. You can easily avoid these problems when you know the difference between chopped and minced garlic.

When you chop garlic, the pieces can be small, but are roughly shaped and not necessarily uniform. In contrast, minced garlic has tiny pieces that are all relatively the same size, about ⅛ inch. It can take some work to mince garlic by hand with a knife, so many people prefer to use a food processor or another tool to help them out. If you prefer your garlic to be more of a paste, you can also go the extra mile and press or mash it, which ensures a softer texture and even garlic flavor throughout.

Using Stale Bread

Stale bread in a basket
Stale bread in a basket - Gokalp Kaya/Shutterstock

There are many appropriate uses for stale bread, such as turning it into bread pudding or croutons, so save it for those projects, please. Garlic bread begs for freshly baked loaves with moist, soft crumbs and nice crusts. Using anything less will only deprive you of quality. Assuming that butter or oil can rescue a dry loaf is understandable, but that's simply not always the case.

Scientifically, stale bread is tough for a reason. The older bread gets, the more starch from the flour crystallizes, because the water molecules relocate. This crystallization causes the bread to get stale. Even if a fat moistens part of the slice, it can't entirely fix it, due to this condition.

So, how fresh does your bread need to be? It's best to use just-baked or day-old bread. Of course, you don't have to make it from scratch just to use it for garlic bread (although you certainly can). But at least avoid using pre-sliced products with tons of preservatives and aim for simple loaves like French or Italian bread. Purchase the bread from a market or bakery, and you'll be more than happy with the outcome.

Applying The Wrong Amount Of Butter Or Oil

Person spreading butter on bread
Person spreading butter on bread - PawelKacperek/Shutterstock

Too much butter and your garlic bread becomes a soggy, greasy mess, but too little, and you end up with brick-like pieces that are nearly unpalatable. It's safe to say that the amount of fat you use can make or break the dish. So, what is the secret to getting the balance just right? If you use softened butter, you're on the right track. It is assuredly easier to control than using melted butter or oil: With a spread, you can smear just enough to coat the surface. As it toasts, it slowly melts into the crumb beneath, which is why you don't need to pile on a thick layer. In contrast, if you use liquid fat, it's easy to accidentally use too much, because it begins to saturate the bread immediately, rather than slowly.

Using oil still has its virtues, though. To prevent any mishaps, use a pastry brush instead of trying to pour or drizzle it on. Remember that it only needs to go partially into the crumb, not through its entire thickness. Halfway through the toasting process, check on the bread to see if it's dry, and if needed, add more oil. It's important not to wait until you fully toast it to realize that it's dry. By then, it might be too late to rescue it and the oil won't make much of a difference.

Toasting It At The Wrong Temperature

Bread slice with burnt edges
Bread slice with burnt edges - Nedikusnedi/Shutterstock

To achieve the right texture, you mustn't toast your garlic bread at too low or high a temperature. This applies no matter your cooking method, be it grilling, air-frying, or baking. For example, if you heat it low and slow, the heat melts the fat and makes the bread mushy while failing to toast it at all. Consequently, the bread appears overly oily, even if you use the right amount of fat.

On the contrary, you don't want to place the bread in a scorching oven and overcook it, because burnt garlic has a bitter, off-putting taste it spreads to the entire slice. Set the temperature to medium-high if you use a grill to avoid this circumstance. For air fryers or ovens, bake at 375 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember, you can always broil it for a short time at the end of the cooking process to get some extra browning.

Slicing The Bread Too Thick Or Thin

Sliced loaf of bread
Sliced loaf of bread - Oksana Mizina/Shutterstock

Although there are many obvious mistakes to avoid when making garlic bread, small details can also make a difference. Consider bread slice thickness. Cutting bread slices too thin may not necessarily be a problem when eating it plain, but if you're using them to make garlic bread, you're in trouble. Thin-sliced bread toasts much faster, making it more susceptible to burning.  You need to keep a watchful eye on such garlic bread -- but even that may not be enough.

Contrarily, if you cut the slices too thick, it can be inconvenient to eat. Although you can tear such bread into smaller pieces, it's simply much easier to end up with garlic bread you can take full bites out of. Therefore, it's essential to find the right balance. If you're unsure of the right size, aim for ¾ inch to 1-inch pieces, and try to make the slices relatively equal. For optimal results, use a sharp, serrated knife. Using full knives and knives without grooves makes achieving smooth and even cuts more difficult.

Not Serving It Immediately

Garlic bread on baking sheet
Garlic bread on baking sheet - AIMAN RIDZUAN/Shutterstock

Timing garlic bread to be ready with other components of a meal can be challenging. However, it's not a good idea to toast it in advance, as it may lose its nice texture while waiting for the rest of the food to cook. Garlic bread is best enjoyed warm, and it doesn't take too long, so heating it last is typically the best approach.

If this sounds tricky, don't worry -- you can always use a freezer trick to prepare it days in advance. Slice a baguette lengthwise and make your butter spread, applying it evenly over the bread. Place the two halves of the baguette back together and tightly wrap it in plastic. When the time comes, unwrap the bread and transfer it directly from the freezer into a hot oven, no thawing required.

Use a moderate oven temperature so the outside doesn't burn while the inside thaws, approximately 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. After about 10 minutes of cooking, raise the oven to the usual toasting temperature range. Take out the baguettes and separate the halves, placing the buttered sides facing up so the top and edges can brown. Sprinkle on cheese and other ingredients before returning it to the oven to finish.

Incorrectly Storing It

Garlic bread in a basket
Garlic bread in a basket - Nitr/Shutterstock

Although eating your garlic bread immediately is best, sometimes you might accidentally make too much. If you have leftovers, the worst thing you can do is store them incorrectly. If you don't properly cover your garlic bread, it will become hard or stale quite quickly. You must either wrap the extra portions in plastic or put them in a resealable bag to prevent air from drying them out. You can also use an airtight container.

Another factor to consider is the temperature at which you keep your leftovers. If your garlic bread contains roasted garlic, unsalted butter, garlic oil, or soft cheese, you must refrigerate it for safety reasons, as these ingredients are perishable. The downside to this is that the refrigerator will negatively affect the bread's texture. Try to consume leftovers within a couple of days for the best quality. On the other hand, if you opt to make garlic bread with garlic powder and salted butter, it's safe to store on the counter.

Reheating It In The Microwave

Person opening microwave door
Person opening microwave door - Seanpavonephoto/Getty Images

When it's time to snack on leftover pieces of garlic bread, you can just pop them in the microwave -- right? Well, you can, but you won't be impressed. The microwave is undoubtedly the worst way to reheat garlic bread. Bread is, in fact, one of the top foods you should never microwave. It's easy to overcook it, as the microwave's electromagnetic energy destroys it very quickly. The heat gelatinizes the bread's starches, making it overly chewy and even outright hard.

Fortunately, there are multiple ways to reheat leftover garlic bread. It'll never be quite as good as the fresh stuff, but it'll be far better than what comes out of the microwave. Use an oven, toaster oven, or air fryer set somewhere between 375 and 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap a slice in foil to prevent it from burning, then heat it, checking on it after a few minutes to see if it is thoroughly warm. If you want to restore the crispy edges, remove the foil and continue heating it briefly.

Read the original article on Daily Meal