Inviting some pals over to hang out can quickly turn stressful when you realize they’re going to expect some food. Before you reach for your phone to order delivery, take a few deep breaths. Homemade eats don’t have to be difficult. With original recipes from our Everyday Appetizers series, you can pull off showstopping starters without losing your cool.
Most people who have a go-to Italian restaurant keep returning to their spot because of just one or two dishes. For some, it’s the bolognese or rustic chicken, but others would happily forgo the pasta and protein just to dig into a mountain of garlic bread. The delicious appetizer shouldn’t be something you only get to enjoy when you manage to snag a table, so bring it to your kitchen with this recipe.
About this recipe
As simple as it sounds, a great garlic bread recipe is hard to come by. They’re often too dry or not garlicky enough. Then there are the ones that require you to cook before the loaf even makes it to the oven. When did garlic bread get so complicated? Our goal was to make it faster, easier, and better tasting than any of those versions. Thanks to lots of fresh garlic, a hefty dose of butter, and a minimal approach, we made it happen.
You might be scratching your head at the though of using butter instead of olive oil, but trust us on this one. Butter has a flavor and richness that can’t be matched. On a practical level, butter also makes for the easiest preparation since it acts as a binder for the other ingredients and spreads so easily.
While you don’t have to invest in any of those absurdly expensive butters you’ll see at specialty stores, you do want to make sure whatever you have on hand hasn’t picked up any funky odors from your fridge. And don’t forget to let it soften. If you find yourself in a panic moment where you need to use it straight from the fridge, you can still make it happen. America’s Test Kitchen demonstrated a fast method where you just pop the butter in a zip-top bag and give it a few whacks with a rolling pin.
Let’s talk garlic. Some people think of raw garlic as harsh, but cooking it mellows the taste too much. Remember, you’re flavoring an entire loaf of bread. We found four cloves was just pungent enough, and mashing them into a paste with a bit of salt ensures even distributed throughout the butter.
As for the method, it’s ridiculously easy. Just combine the butter with all the other seasonings and mix until it’s fully incorporated. Split a loaf of your favorite Italian bread, then smear the garlic butter evenly over both halves. We sandwich the loaf together in some foil to help the flavors distribute and the butter melt for the first 10 minutes of baking, then finish with 5 minutes with both halves exposed to add just a bit of crispness.
Once the bread is just cool enough to handle, slice, and serve immediately to some soon-to-be-impressed friends. Paired with a nice glass of wine or a classic Italian cocktail, this bread makes for a great evening. And if we’re being honest, any leftovers might be an even better breakfast than cold pizza.
Really Good Garlic Bread
The only real guideline for the type of bread you get is to avoid anything too crusty, which can be really hard to eat when prepared this way. We opted for ciabatta. This recipe makes enough for 8.
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 (16-ounce) loaf ciabatta or other Italian bread, split in half
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle a pinch of the salt over garlic and use the side of your knife to mash it into a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl along with remaining salt, butter, parsley, oregano, pepper, and cheese. Mix well to combine.
Spread butter mixture evenly over cut sides of bread halves. Sandwich back together and wrap in aluminum foil. Set on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Unwrap, open loaf so both cut halves face up, and bake for 5 minutes longer. Remove from oven, slice, and serve at once.
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