How to Use Garlic Scapes {plus a recipe}

How to Use Garlic Scapes {plus a recipe}

Garlic Scape season is upon us in Iowa, and if you know the right people, you might be able to get ahold of these delicious little sprigs. But once you find them, you may wonder what to do with them.

Fear not, we have some delicious ideas for you! Including a Garlic Scape Hummus recipe (pictured above). But first…

What are garlic scapes?

Garlic scapes are the flowering stalk of a garlic plant. They only grow on hardneck garlic varieties, which are commonly grown anyways. In June (in Iowa), scapes start to emerge from the center of a garlic plant, shooting upwards and eventually starting to curve and curl. If left to grow, the scape will produce a flower, which will then produce seeds.

Garlic Scape from the Liberty Elementary School Garden

One thing I love about scapes is that as they grow, the curl up into little spring-like snacks. They are one of the most adorable crops I’ve seen. And yes, I’ve just called garlic adorable. It’s a fitting word!

However, given that we usually grow garlic for the delicious blub, we don’t want the plant to flower. So producers who grow garlic must clip off the scape before it fully flowers, so the plant can funnel its energy into producing nice, big roots, which are harvested as heads of garlic later in the season. Many people don’t realize the scape can be eaten, and often producers don’t consider selling them. That’s either because they don’t know they can harvest and sell them, or because they have taken them to the farmers market in the past and haven’t been able to sell them, because customers don’t know how to use them.

Because of this, they can be hard to find. But if you happen to know a producer who grows garlic, give them a quick call and ask if you can buy some scapes from them. Or visit your local farmer’s market and see if you can find some for sale. If you can’t, ask the producers if they grow garlic and if they could harvest some scapes for you to pick up at the next market day. Most producers would be thrilled to do this! If you are a part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), you might find these cute little scapes in your box. If you’re part of our Produce with a Purpose Food Box program, you may find some scapes in this week’s delivery. (Yay!)

This week, our scapes will be sourced from Rolling Prairie Acres in Sigourney, Iowa.

How to Use Garlic Scapes

1. Eat them raw: Garlic scapes are milder than a normal garlic clove. They can be eaten raw like a green onion or leek. They have enough flavor that you won’t even need a dip.

2. Make garlic scape pesto: Replacing some or all of the basil in a traditional pesto recipe is definitely an option. This can be eaten with pita, veggies, bread, or other dip-able foods. You could also add it to cooked pasta noodles to make a pesto-based pasta dish. I’ve used garlic scape pesto to dab on top of lasagna, baked pasta, or pizza, which is remarkably delicious. And you can easily freeze garlic scape pesto to eat later.

3. Grill garlic scapes: Toss garlic scapes with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill over medium-low heat, as you would asparagus. Grill until lightly browned on both sides, being sure to remove them from heat when they’re still somewhat soft on the inside. They should look like a mixture of lighter green and golden brown on the outside.

4. Add to stir fry for a fresh burst of flavor. You may want to chop them up before you do this, as a scape is kind of long and would be unwieldy to eat without cutting.

5. Make garlic scape hummus: Whoooo this stuff is GOOD! If you like hummus, definitely consider making hummus with garlic scapes. Scapes will give hummus a slightly odd color, but the taste is phenomenal. If you’ve never made your own hummus, fear not: it’s as simple as tossing everything into a food processor and blending well. The hardest part can be finding tahini in a small, rural town. Look in your grocery store’s health food section, or talk to an employee about ordering some if you struggle to find it. Alternately, you can buy it only and have it in a few days, if you plan it well. Check out this Garlic Scape Hummus recipe, which is a recipe for SUCCESS!

Garlic Scape Hummus

A delicious and easy way to use this late spring crop

Author Jennifer Lamos


  • 1 can chickpeas drained
  • 1/4 cup garlic scapes chopped
  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt to taste


  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor in order and blend until somewhat smooth. If needed, add a bit of water (1 teaspoon at a time) to moisten.

  2. Hummus is ready when it's fairly smooth and begins to look a little lighter/airy. Serve with veggies, pita, crackers, etc. 

Enjoy your garlic scape experimentation, and let us know in the comments below if you have other great recipes you’ve tried!


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