Hi, I’m that girl at the table who asks if you’re going to eat your pickle spear. There’s no limit to how much briny, vinegary deliciousness I can pile onto a single burger. On taco night, the more quick-pickled onions there are on my plate, the better. And don’t even get me started on pickle-flavored popcorn and potato chips. So, when spicy pickled garlic first graced my TikTok feed, I was beyond up for the challenge—despite the scores of wary viewers sounding off in the comments. Read on for everything you need to know about the trend, including a mind-blowingly simple recipe.
I Tried TikTok’s Spicy Pickled Garlic Trend, and It Was Every Bit as Delicious as I’d Hoped
Spicy pickled garlic is a lot simpler to make than it sounds, considering you buy the garlic pre-pickled and don’t have to make the brine yourself. It’s as simple as emptying the brine from a jar of pickled garlic cloves, adding sriracha and chili flakes and shaking it up until the garlic is evenly seasoned.
First made famous by TikTokker @lalaleluu, who snacks on the cloves straight from the jar, spicy pickled garlic is sort of a riff on the side dish maneul jangajji, a type of Korean banchan. While snacking on whole garlic cloves might not seem appetizing at first, hear me out: Garlic has a ton of immunity-boosting antioxidants and vitamins. Personally, I’ve eaten raw minced garlic with honey to fight off a cold a number of times. While the garlic is sharp and spicy when raw, something told me that a vinegar brine would actually make it more palatable, not less.
So, with that hope in mind, I hit my local 99 Ranch Market for ingredients.
How To Make Spicy Pickled Garlic
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Pickled garlic cloves: All I could find was pickled whole garlic, so I peeled the bulbs and separated the cloves first. But if you can find loose pickled garlic cloves at an Asian market near you (or at your usual supermarket—mine didn’t sell pickled garlic at all), it’ll save you some time. Just be sure it’s in a simple brine and not pre-flavored.
- Sriracha: Could you technically use whatever hot sauce you have in your fridge? Yes. Will it taste as garlicky-sweet as sriracha? Not a chance. Sriracha’s unique flavor profile and thicker texture really lends itself to the briny cloves and dry, hot chili flakes, so I wouldn’t use a substitute if you can help it.
- Chili flakes: I bought a pack of dried chili flakes at 99 Ranch, but I’ve also seen plenty of TikTokkers substitute crushed red pepper flakes or chili powder.
And here’s how to make it:
Step 1: Open the jar of pickled garlic and drain the brine. Lala dumps the vinegar in the sink in her viral video, but you can totally keep it to use in salad dressings, sauces and spreads if you like the taste. (Pickle brine is usually my go-to, but this brine boasts garlicky flavor that I’m not willing to waste.
Step 2: Drizzle as much sriracha as desired into the jar. Remember, sriracha is only *one* of the spicy ingredients you’ll be adding, so don’t go too wild at the start—you can always add more later and adjust to your liking. I used about three tablespoons by the end.
Step 3: Add about a teaspoon of chili flakes. Lala also adds a tablespoon or so of dried thyme to the jar. We’re betting dried rosemary, freshly cracked black pepper or coriander seeds would also work well.
Step 4: Close the jar and shake it until the garlic is evenly coated. I found that leaving just a touch of the original brine in the jar helped loosen and spread the spicy coating over the cloves.
Ways To Use Spicy Pickled Garlic
If you’re like Lala (and yes, me), the garlic is ready to nosh on straight from the jar. When eaten solo, it’s zingy and spicy at the front, but shockingly sweet at the same time. The smell of the sriracha, garlic and thyme combined reminded me a lot of pizza.
Honestly, I’m a tad obsessed, despite the havoc this snack wreaks on your breath, but you can also use spicy pickled garlic in a ton of recipes instead of eating it straight-up. Think salad dressing, garlic bread, spicy pesto, roasted vegetables, pasta dishes—basically any dish that could benefit from a touch of heat, acidity and garlic.