Difference between Purple Garlic and White Garlic

Updated on March 27, 2017

Garlic is often regarded as a superfood. Apart from its many uses in food preparation, it also has various medicinal effects. There are actually several types of garlic and two of these are purple garlic and white garlic. Beyond the color contrast, there are other qualities that set them apart. In this article, you’ll read about the differentiation between purple and white garlic.


Garlic comes from the Allium or onion genus. There are about 300 varieties of garlic from all over the world. It has an intense, aromatic scent and flavor when used in cooking. Though garlic smell may have undesirable effects on the breath, hands and body, garlic is still valued for its health benefits. Garlic contains antioxidants and components that boost the immune system.

Purple Garlic
Purple garlic

Purple garlic is among the wild garlic variety that has a hard neck. The purple color or stripes on the outer skin is characteristic of this type of garlic. The pigment, anthocyanin, provides its purple color. Its cloves are similar in size and they vary in number from 4-12. One advantage of purple garlic is that its skin slips off smoothly. Its shelf life is about 3-4 months. Most of the varieties of purple garlic originated from the Soviet Union. Because of its rich and complex flavors, purple garlic is used in several dishes, soups, and as an ingredient in pizza, pasta, and bread. It is also used in baking and as an added flavor to vanilla ice cream.

Purple garlic has a lot of known benefits. It is rich in antioxidants and helps prevent premature aging. Regular consumption of this type of garlic helps address type II diabetes and reduce the risk of some types of cancer. Purple garlic contains allicin and germanium which blocks the synthesis of carcinogenic agents and inhibits the growth of cancer cells, respectively. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect, which can ease rheumatoid arthritis.

White garlic
White garlic

White garlic belongs to the softneck variety. This is the more common type of garlic, the ones you often find in grocery stores. Since the neck of white garlic is soft, it can be braided and stored nicely in the kitchen. This doubles as an aesthetic decoration. White garlic grows easily and in varied climate conditions. It contains phytochemicals called allyl sulfides, which also gives it its white color. It has different size cloves that can number up to 19 per bulb. White garlic can last up to 9 months. The taste of white garlic ranges from mild to more pungent flavors. It goes perfectly with sauteed and baked food.

The phytochemicals found in white garlic makes it a healthy food source and helps reduce the risk of some diseases. White garlic has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal benefits. It is usually used as a remedy for the common cold, to lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Purple Garlic vs White Garlic

What is the difference between purple garlic and white garlic?

Purple garlic gets its color from the pigment anthocyanin, whereas white garlic is white due to the presence of allyl sulfides. Purple garlic belongs to the hardneck variety while the white garlic types belong to the softnecks. In terms of availability, purple garlic is harder to find compared to white garlic, which is often found in grocery stores. There are usually fewer cloves per bulb in purple garlic vs white garlic. Purple garlic is mentioned to have more rich and complex flavors but a shorter shelf life. White garlic, on the other hand, has tastes ranging from mild to pungent and this type can be stored for a longer time.

Comparison Chart

Purple Garlic White Garlic
Purple in color due to the presence of anthocyaninWhite in color due to allyl sulfides
Hardneck garlicSoftneck garlic
Wild variety, harder to findReadily available
Fewer cloves per bulbMore cloves per bulb
Rich, complex flavorsRanges from mild to pungent flavors
Shorter shelf lifeCan be stored for a longer time