Garlic Scapes and How to Use Them

The Dyer Family Organic Farm


A Killarney Red garlic scape starting its double curl!


Garlic scapes are the curly tipped, garlicky tasting green “stem or flower-stalk” that grow from the hardneck garlic varieties. Although the scapes have often been discarded in the US, they are
considered a culinary delicacy in many Asian countries and are increasingly available in the US.

Some Asian markets with well-stocked produce sections will carry fresh garlic scapes in season (June in the Upper Midwest), but increasingly you may also find them at farmers’ markets and
gourmet grocery stores or natural food stores. Frozen garlic scapes (called garlic shoots) are readily available year-round in the freezer section of most well-stocked Asian supermarkets.

  •  Taste-wise, garlic scapes are garlicky but with a fresh “green” taste. They can be used in any dish where one usually uses garlic but would like a garlic flavor with less bite than garlic cloves.
  •   Garlic scapes work well chopped and added raw to salads, salsas, dips, guacamole, marinades, pesto, bean dip, salad dressings, mashed potatoes, and a topping for pizza or baked potatoes.
  •  Scapes are also delightful when cooked into sauces, added to soups, stews, omelettes, frittatas, soufflés, a stir-fry, or mixed into softened butter and used to make toasted garlic bread.
  •  Cut into 1-inch sections, lightly steam, and you will think you are eating mild garlicky-flavored green beans.
  •  Garlic scapes can also be pickled or added to homemade flavored vinegars.
  •   Toss or brush with olive oil and grill along with some fresh Michigan asparagus (they are in season together).
  •  A simple, beautiful, and delicious garlic scape spread or dip can be made by chopping some scapes and mixing them with butter, mayonnaise, aioli, any white bean dip, cream cheese, or yogurt cheese.
  •  Use several scapes under a whole chicken, on top of a large piece of fish, or even a large baking dish of lasagna when in the oven.
  •  Add to flower bouquets, as decoration on plates or buffet tables, or even as a fun bracelet!
  •  Finally, you can also chop up garlic scapes and store them in the freezer, no blanching required if they have been harvested when young and tender, ready to use all winter long.

Garlic scapes will keep ~3 weeks (at least) when refrigerated loosely in plastic. However, the season is very short, indeed fleeting. Just like with asparagus, make sure the bottom ends of the scapes you purchase are not “woody”, i.e., check that they are tender enough to be edible and/or to put into a blender or food processor without burning out the motor. So purchase enough of this delicacy now to grill up a large batch of scapes for a special meal, to freeze, and to make pesto or pickles for a reminder of early summer all year long. Many of our long-time customers purchase 1-5 pounds of scapes during the short time they are available.

10 Things to Do with Garlic Scapes

from Bon Appetit
  1. Blitz some stalks into garlicky pesto.  If you're a hardcore garlic fan, leave out the basil altogether in favor of the scapes.  Otherwise, substitute garlic scapes for up to half of your greens and proceed as usual.
  2. Fold chopped and sautéed garlic scapes into frittatas or the best-ever scrambled eggs.
  3. Chop garlic scapes into little coins and add to stir-fries and fried rice.
  4. Finely dice a couple of garlic scapes and mix into vinaigrette.  (They also make a tasty addition to green goddess dressing.)
  5. Throw whole scapes on the grill, just like you would make grilled scallions.
  6. Fold chopped scapes into a dip for grilled meat or roasted veg.
  7. Cut garlic scapes into 6-inch pieces and pickle them.  (Think pickled green beans or thin kosher dill pickles.)
  8. Saute scapes and use them as a pizza topping.  Don't forget to save any leftover sautéing oil for drizzling.
  9. Use the scapes whole in warm-weather-friendly braise. 
  10. Mix chopped scapes with a stick of butter to make a garlicky compound butter for grilled or pan-fried fish.