Fresh garlic can be measured in cloves, volume (tablespoons) or weight (grams). According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's national nutrient database, 1 tbsp. of garlic is equal to about three cloves of fresh garlic. An easy way to remember the garlic conversion is to think of teaspoons first (there are 3 tsp. in 1 tbsp.) One clove of garlic equals about 1 tsp. The exact conversion depends on several factors, such as the size of the clove and how the garlic is prepared.
When fresh garlic is called for in a recipe in terms of tablespoons, you can save time and extra dishes if you add the right number of cloves without bothering to measure them with a tablespoon. With a flavoring ingredient like garlic, it's not necessary to adhere to the exact amounts called for in a recipe. If you love garlic, use more. If you are hesitant about dishes with lots of garlic flavor, go easy.
The size of the clove is a factor when converting fresh garlic to tablespoons. A large clove can be three of four times the size of a small clove, making accurate conversions difficult. Three medium-size cloves are equal to 1 tbsp., but one or two large cloves may be all that is needed, and it can take as many as six small cloves to equal 1 tbsp.
Other factors can affect the conversion of garlic cloves to tablespoons. One factor is how the garlic is prepared. Minced or crushed garlic is more dense than chopped or sliced garlic. When using minced or crushed garlic, more cloves will be needed to fill up a tablespoon than chopped or sliced garlic.
Fresh garlic may offer the best flavor to recipes, but garlic is available in other forms as well. You can purchase chopped garlic in jars, and garlic powder and garlic salt offer garlic flavor. The recommended conversion for garlic powder is to use 1/8 tsp. for one clove of garlic. Using this conversion, a measure of just less than 1/2 tsp. would be equal to 1 tbsp. of fresh garlic.
Using weight measures is usually the most accurate way to add recipe ingredients. If you have a kitchen scale that is accurate to 1 or 2 grams, you can use it to measure 1 tbsp. of garlic. About 9 grams of garlic equals 1 tbsp.