What is a Clove of Garlic: Unpeeling the Mystery

Explore the essence of a garlic clove: its anatomy, flavors, and versatility. Uncover its forms and measurements in this comprehensive guide.


6/3/20242 min read

A clove of garlic is a fundamental unit of this aromatic bulbous plant, known for its pungent flavor and myriad culinary uses. Encased within the papery skin of the garlic bulb, each clove holds the promise of intense flavor and health benefits. Understanding the anatomy and characteristics of a garlic clove is essential for unlocking its culinary potential and harnessing its medicinal properties. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of what defines a clove of garlic, exploring its anatomy, flavor profile, and culinary applications to empower you in your culinary journey.

The Anatomy of Garlic

The garlic bulb, often referred to as the "head," consists of multiple individual cloves encased within layers of papery skin. This bulb develops underground, anchored by a single stem. As the garlic plant matures, the bulb swells, forming distinct cloves arranged in a circular pattern. Each clove remains attached to the basal plate, allowing them to be easily separated from the bulb when needed. After harvest, the bulbs are typically dried to enhance storage longevity and intensify flavor. This unique anatomy enables easy extraction and use of individual cloves, making garlic a versatile ingredient in culinary endeavors!

A garlic clove is primarily composed of carbohydrates, with a notable portion of fiber, protein, and a small amount of fat. It also contains various vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, and selenium. Additionally, garlic cloves contain sulfur compounds like allicin, which contribute to their distinctive aroma and potential health benefits. Despite being low in calories, garlic cloves pack a punch in terms of flavor and nutritional value.

What a Garlic Clove Looks Like

A single clove of garlic is a teardrop-shaped segment that is just a fraction of the entire bulb. Generally, cloves are small, ranging from about half an inch to an inch in size, depending on the garlic variety. Colors vary from creamy white to light purple or pink, with outer skins often displaying streaks or hues indicative of the specific cultivar. When crushed or minced, garlic cloves release a pungent aroma and distinctively sharp flavor, renowned for their ability to impart depth and complexity to dishes, like our tasty Garlic Guajillo Steak Recipe.

Other Garlic Formats

Garlic undergoes various processing methods before it hits your kitchen. Besides the usual cured garlic cloves still in their papery skins, here are some other common formats:

  • Minced garlic

  • Pickled garlic

  • Jarred garlic

  • Garlic powder

  • Garlic salt

  • Garlic paste

  • Roasted garlic

  • Dehydrated garlic flakes

  • Fermented black garlic

To get the most nutrition from your garlic, fresh garlic is the way to go! Learn more about that in our article How to Eat Garlic for Your Health.


What is a clove of garlic?

A clove of garlic is one of the segments that make up a garlic bulb, encased in a papery skin.

What is minced garlic?

Minced garlic refers to garlic cloves that have been finely chopped or crushed into small pieces.

What is a clove of garlic in teaspoons?

On average, one clove of garlic minced equals about half a teaspoon.

What is a clove of garlic equal to?

A single clove of garlic is equivalent to about 1/8th of a teaspoon of garlic powder.