We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Is It Safe to Store Garlic in Oil?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The United States Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in 1993 about storing garlic in oil, triggering widespread concerns about the safety of keeping garlic in different types of fats. It is in fact perfectly safe to store garlic in oil, with a couple of critical caveats that should be kept in mind. Very few people have actually gotten sick from this garlic; the food-paranoid might want to be more worried about meat products like oysters and chicken, which routinely cause food-borne illness when handled improperly.

The concern with storing garlic in oil is that garlic is a low-acid vegetable, which makes it ideal for culturing Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism. As long as the bacterium is exposed to oxygen, it cannot develop the spores which secrete the toxin, so garlic itself is perfectly safe. However, when garlic is placed in oil or fat, an anaerobic environment is created, and if the bacteria is present, it can cause botulism in anyone who consumes the product.

Contaminated garlic in oil tastes, smells, and looks just like a product which is perfectly safe, which makes it even more dangerous. People could potentially consume the product, develop botulism, and die or become seriously ill. For this reason, the FDA advised consumers to generally avoid garlic oil, reducing the risk to zero.

However, garlic in oil can be safe. Commercial preparations have agents added to increase the acidity, killing off any bacteria which may be present, so this form is perfectly safe. Garlic-flavored olive and other cooking oils are also usually treated so that they are slightly acidic before packaging and sale, so that they will be safe for consumers. Freshly prepared oil, used immediately, is also safe, as the bacteria have no time to grow. Fresh products can also be refrigerated and used safely for up to one week. Home cooks lack the facilities necessary to add enough acid for long-term storage.

For people who prefer to err on the side of caution, avoiding garlic in oil is certainly an option. Others may prefer to seek out safe products, such as acidic commercial preparations or freshly-prepared homemade versions. Garlic in oil should not be used if it has been sitting at room temperature for more than a few hours, or if it has been refrigerated for over a week. As a reminder, it might be helpful to put a sticker on a refrigerated container with the date it was made, so that it can be thrown out when it is past the point of safe consumption.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon989671 — On Mar 17, 2015

One great trick is to chop your garlic, put into ice cube trays, fill each section with olive oil, freeze, pop out and place into zip bags or containers. Keep frozen and use as needed. Do this with any fresh herbs, also.

By anon352714 — On Oct 24, 2013

I've kept peeled garlic, immersed in extra virgin olive oil, in my refrigerator for more than five months so far. I used it recently to make garlic bread. Except for the dripping olive oil, I would not be able to tell the five month-plus garlic from freshly peeled garlic. I wonder if the FDA is simply being overly cautious.

If the chances of developing botulism from garlic infused oil are less than a million to 1, there's really no point worrying about it in the first place. My guess is that generations of Italians have been preserving garlic in oil without refrigeration. Someone needs to go tell them that they or their ancestors should have died from botulism poisoning a long time ago! Seriously, scientific studies should be done to better assess the risk.

By anon268344 — On May 13, 2012

OK, then, my wife and I should have died, or at least become very ill, several times in the past two months. Our garlic cloves in olive oil had been bubbling each time I took out several cloves to use in recipes. We used all the garlic and all the oil. Never felt sick -- no symptoms at all. I'm not convinced the bubbling is always caused by the botulism bacteria.

We've since peeled more garlic, put it in fresh olive oil and it started bubbling within two days in the fridge. I always saute the garlic before eating it, so perhaps doing so kills the bacteria, but I want a definitive test for a definitive answer.

By rosoph — On Mar 19, 2011

Thank you for this information. I knew that you had to be careful with garlic in oil, but I wasn't sure how long you could store garlic in oil for in the refrigerator. I always just throw away what I don't use immediately. At least now I know that I have a week to come up with some other dishes to use it in.

By calpat — On Mar 17, 2011

Wow, I had no idea that storing garlic in oil could result in botulism. What a scary thought! I'm sure that the commercially prepared products are safe, but I think I'll steer clear of it either way. I don't need garlic oil that much!

By anon111639 — On Sep 17, 2010

What about garlic that has been cooked, as in roasted garlic, or whole cloves that have been crushed and cooked gently in oil? If those are added to oil and kept in the fridge would the oil then be safer? I live in Ecuador where commercial garlic oil is not available.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Read more
DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.