Due to its potent flavor and variety of health benefits, garlic has been used by various cultures for thousands of years (1).

You may cook with this ingredient at home, taste it in sauces, and eat it in dishes like pasta, stir-fries, and baked vegetables.

However, because it’s primarily used as a spice, garlic can be hard to classify.

This article explains whether garlic is a vegetable.

Botanically, garlic (Allium sativum) is considered a vegetable.

It belongs to the onion family, alongside shallots, leeks, and chives (2).

Strictly speaking, a vegetable is any edible part of an herbaceous plant, such as the roots, leaves, stems, and bulbs.

The garlic plant itself has a bulb, tall stem, and long leaves.

Although the leaves and flowers of the plant are also edible, the bulb — comprised of 10–20 cloves — is most frequently eaten. It’s covered in a paper-like husk that’s typically removed before consumption.


Garlic comes from an edible plant with a bulb, stem, and leaves. Therefore, it’s botanically considered a vegetable.

Garlic is used more like a spice or herb than a vegetable.

Unlike other vegetables, garlic is rarely consumed in large amounts or on its own. Instead, it’s usually added to dishes in small amounts because of its strong taste. In fact, second only to onions, it may be the most popular bulb used for flavor worldwide.

Garlic can be cooked either crushed, peeled, or whole. It’s most commonly roasted, boiled, or sautéed.

It can also be bought chopped, minced, pickled, or in supplement form.

Although it was previously believed that only raw garlic had health benefits, studies now show that cooked and commercially prepared products can be just as beneficial (3).


Garlic is used primarily as an herb or spice, often added to dishes in small amounts to heighten flavor rather than eaten on its own.

Dietary guidelines recommend that fruits and vegetables comprise half of your plate during a meal, or about 1.7 pounds (800 grams) throughout the day (4).

However, there’s no need to fill half your plate with garlic.

This potent vegetable packs a variety of sulfur compounds, including allicin, which accounts for most of its medicinal properties (5).

Research shows that just 1–2 cloves (4 grams) provide substantial health benefits, including (6,7):


Garlic is more potent than most other vegetables and offers numerous benefits, even when eaten in small amounts.

Though widely used as an herb or spice, garlic is botanically a vegetable.

It offers a variety of health benefits and is a particularly pungent ingredient sure to spice up your favorite dish.

Unlike other vegetables, it’s less commonly cooked on its own or eaten whole.

If you’re curious about it, add garlic to your diet today.