Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste (Copycat)

Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste is thick, garlicky and 100% addicting.

Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste is thick, garlicky and 100% addicting. The reason Zagat and all of Los Angeles loves Zankou!

Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste is a magical sauce that may seem completely crazy to any of you not familiar with Zankou Chicken, but to all of us in LA, this sauce is good enough to horde.

Made with raw garlic, lemon and potatoes, the magic is in the flavor of the garlic. The punch of raw garlic immediately adds to anything you want to put it on.

Some ideas for use:

  • Rotisserie chicken or Falafel (C’mon Zankou knows how to do it right!)
  • On sandwiches! Makes for an amazing substitute for mayonnaise.
  • Tossed in pasta with a touch more olive oil.
  • Roasted Vegetables – I love this with roasted asparagus dipped in the paste! Also amazing with roasted bell peppers, even now as I am typing this I am eating this combo and swooning.
  • Roasted meats – works great with pork, beef and lamb.
  • Anything you would ever add garlic to!

Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste is so popular that what used to be a free sauce you could snag some extra of is now pre-packaged and inventoried and sold for much much more than should be allowed. Can’t say I blame them, I routinely wanted three or four extra little containers with my meal just so I could use it on everything else I ate later that week.

If I had to describe it to you [since unfortunately for you computers have not yet formed the ability to do smell-a-vision] it would have the thickness and consistency of horseradish, but with a raw, strong garlic flavor with a hint of lemon.

Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste is thick, garlicky and 100% addicting. The reason Zagat and all of Los Angeles loves Zankou!  Many people have spent years trying to decipher the Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste Copycat recipe, going so far as to cook the sauce to see what form it takes [spoiler, it becomes a pancake!] and calling the corporate office asking if it has certain ingredients in it for “allergy reasons.”

The secret ingredient turned out to be potato. People knew it was some kind of starch because it cooked into a pancake instead of melting in the hot pan, and ever since the potato was revealed to be the mystery ingredient the flood gates have opened. The main debate now lies in what kind of potato you use. Since I have no access to the actual Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste recipe or any connection to Zankou Chicken itself, I starting doing test runs.

In my trial runs of the Zankou Chicken Armenian Garlic Paste recipe I’ve gone both ways, potato flakes and fresh russet potatoes and while both were very tasty one was a clear winner…. the potato flakes! It also makes it an even easier recipe since using fresh potato means heating the pot of water, peeling and cubing them, mashing them and letting them cool all the way back down so you don’t mute the flavor of the garlic by mixing it in hot and partially cooking it. Plus you know when you’re working on that kind of volume

5 from 7 votes

Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste

Zankou Chicken's secret Armenian Garlic Paste is thick, garlicky and 100% addicting. The reason Zagat and all of Los Angeles loves Zankou!
Course Sauce
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Keyword copycat recipes, Garlic Paste, Zankou Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 322 kcal
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 cup instant mashed potatoes , plain flavor or potato flakes
  • 1/2 cup room temperature water
  • 15 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice , please don't use the plastic lemons with "juice" in them
  • 1/2 cup canola oil


  1. Mix the instant mashed potatoes with about 1/2 cup water. Depending on the brand, may be a bit more or a bit less. You're going for mashed potato consistency, this is used to give "body" to the sauce, so err on the side of caution and go thick, not soupy.
  2. Peel the garlic cloves and put them in your food processor. Add the lemon juice and salt. Puree until finely chopped then stream in the canola oil until it looks like a delicious aoili.
  3. At this point start adding the potato and continue running the food processor until it is all incorporated. Transfer to a covered container.
  4. Now. Before you panic and think you've gone and added too much potato because of course you tasted it immediately and you're disappointed it tastes so potato-ey, put the container in the fridge. Forget all about it for at LEAST a couple of hours, preferable until the next day.
  5. Now you can take it out, take a piece of bread and enjoy every delicious garlicky [and hardly discernably potato-ey] bite.

Recipe Notes

Inspiration drawn from this thread : and many many little containers of Zankou's delicious garlic paste over the years.

Nutrition Facts
Zankou Chicken Garlic Paste
Amount Per Serving
Calories 322 Calories from Fat 252
% Daily Value*
Fat 28g43%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 890mg39%
Potassium 231mg7%
Carbohydrates 17g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin C 24mg29%
Calcium 24mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Zankou is my absolute favorite! But living in Texas now and don’t get to LA often enough. Can you tell me what I could use instead of potato flakes that would make this a little more Keto friendly? REALLLY drained and dried cauliflower maybe?

    1. This is a copycat recipe so I haven’t tested it any other way. The potatoes get creamy and are pretty general in flavor so the garlic is able to take over the flavor. If you switch to something else with the same absorbency, I’m not sure how the flavor would be affected. Cauliflower has a pretty strong flavor. If you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Good luck!

  2. One additional step I do is to de-germ the garlic first. That means cutting the cloves in half length-wise, and pulling out the center-most strand of garlic. This is the part that gives raw garlic its heat and bitter aftertaste. Remove the germ from each clove and the garlic will still taste like garlic, but it will only have the sweetness, not the biting aftertaste. It’s a little extra work, but so worth it. So easy and soooo good.

  3. This is an ALMOST copycat recipe.
    I would suggest using half the amount of lemon juice for the sauce to not be quite so bitterly acidic. Other than that, it’s great!

  4. Questions: How is the taste of this paste if you leave out the potato flakes because I’ve seen other similar recipes that don’t call for potatoes or potato flakes? Second, can use use the minced garlic in jar or should I only use the fresh whole garlic cloves?

    1. I haven’t tried it without. The potato just allows to thicken it and is mellow enough that the garlic really takes over. I would suggest using fresh garlic but if jarred is all you have, that’ll do in a pinch. Good luck!

  5. So good. I’ve only heard of Zankou chicken from some crime podcasts, but that sent me in search of a recipe for the sauce. This is easy, delicious, and will go with so many things. I’m thinking rotisserie chicken (that’s how I used it tonight), but also as a spread on sandwiches, slathered on a turkey and cheese roll up, in a quesadilla, on a steak, on a pita. I need to try this on a Popeyes chicken sandwich. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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