Roasting a whole head of garlic is one of the easiest ways to make your meal better. Being able to smash the soft, sweet cloves into and onto your food feels restaurant-y and tastes amazing, but heating up an entire oven and leaving it on for a whole hour to roast one or two barely fist-sized bulbs feels wasteful. If you have an air fryer, you can cut that cook time in half (or quarter it, depending on the size of your garlic).
As many people have pointed out, the air fryer is just a tiny convection oven, which makes it perfect for cooking tiny things. It heats up faster and circulates heat more aggressively, giving you convection oven results with tabletop convenience. It’s particularly useful if your big oven is occupied with a big food — especially if that big food is being cooked at a fairly low temperature — and you wish to cook a smaller food at a higher temperature to finish your dish. (In addition to garlic, scallions and ginger are my two of my favourite air-fried finishing touches.)
Roasting garlic in your air fryer isn’t much different than roasting it in the oven. You can roast it anywhere in the 190-210 degrees Celsius, keeping in mind that a lower, slower heat will give you darker, sweeter cloves (but take longer), and that garlic roasted at the hotter end of that spectrum may get a little burnt on the edges (but it will get soft and spreadable much faster). I usually roast mine around 200 degrees Celsius, but have been known to crank it up if I’m in a hurry, or drop it down if I want to intensify the sweetness.
To prep the garlic, slice off 0.5 – 1 centimetre off the top to expose the cloves, and remove the outer papery peels. Then, either place it in the centre of a piece of foil, drizzle the exposed cloves with olive oil, and wrap the bulb up; or pour that oil into a ramekin and set the garlic inside of it, cut side down. Both methods work, but the latter is a little less wasteful, and you can dip bread into the leftover garlic oil.
Place the garlic in the basket of your 200-degree Celsius air fryer and cook until the cloves are browned on the edges and soft and spreadable — about 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of your bulbs and how many you have in there. Once the bulb is cool enough to touch, removes the cloves with a pickle fork (or the tip of a knife), and spread and smash them onto and into every savoury food.