Garlic has been used by chefs to enhance the flavor of dishes for, well, forever. But black garlic is one of the newest trends that's been popping up on menus across the country. What is black garlic? It's actually just regular garlic that's been aged in a specific way, turning the pearlescent cloves jet black. The texture and flavor profile change as well, and the result is a softer, molasses-like composition with a strong umami flavor. It makes for a super versatile ingredient, and chefs use it in liquid form, as a powder, in place of roasted garlic, and more. Whether you make it in-house or purchase it from a specialty store, here are a few ways to use these flavor-packed bulbs.

Use It in a Sauce or Dressing

Black garlic can be used in sauces or as a vinaigrette to add punch to a dish. Duck is a popular pairing with the ingredient. Chef Roger Waysok, of South Water Kitchen in Chicago, uses black garlic with cherries in his duck sauce to add a flavor that's similar to balsamic. Chef Carlo G. Lamagna of Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon uses it in his Parisian gnocchi and pairs it with sauteed morels, caramelized milk jam, and preserved Meyer lemon. You can also make a vinaigrette for vegetables, a broth for soups, or a rich sauce for chicken.

Add a Twist to a Cocktail

Mixologists can even add the potent flavor of black garlic into cocktails. For instance, South Water Kitchen's head bartender, Dan Rook, creates a tincture with caramelized black garlic and asparagus that he incorporates into his version of the margarita, which he serves with an olive that's stuffed with black garlic. It can also be used in a simple syrup for a savory mojito or to add a dash of umami flavor to a vodka martini.

Think Outside the Box

When it comes to making the most of black garlic, the options are endless. Chef Clayton Rollinson, of the Lucky Rooster in Hilton Head, South Carolina, combines it with duck skin to create a cracklin for his poached duck dish that adds a caramel and molasses flavor.

Chef Kevin Nashan, of St. Louis, Missouri, plays with black garlic in a variety of ways—from dehydrating it to grating it. You can really get creative, and even experiment with using it in a savory ice cream, a sandwich spread, or dip.

Black garlic is a very versatile ingredient that packs a ton of flavor and health benefits. It's also easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes, making it a great ingredient to keep stocked in your kitchen.