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Are garlic knots healthy?

Garlic knots are a popular appetizer or side dish that can be found at many Italian restaurants. They are made by tying pizza dough into knots and baking them with garlic, butter, and sometimes cheese. But are these tasty bites actually good for you? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional content of garlic knots.

Calories and Macronutrients

One garlic knot contains approximately:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 150
Fat 8g
Carbohydrates 16g
Protein 3g

So a single garlic knot has about 150 calories, which is not too high, but also not low. The fat content comes mostly from butter. The carbohydrates are from the dough, and there is a small amount of protein.

If you eat 5 garlic knots, that would add up to 750 calories, 40g fat, 80g carbs, and 15g protein. This is a pretty significant chunk of calories and macronutrients.

Compared to other appetizers like breadsticks or fried calamari, garlic knots are lower in calories and fat since they are baked instead of fried. However, the butter and cheese they are topped with keeps their fat and calorie count on the higher side.

Vitamins and Minerals

Garlic knots made simply with dough, garlic, and butter will not provide much in the way of vitamins and minerals.

However, if garlic knots are made with whole wheat or multigrain dough, they will contain:

Vitamin/Mineral Amount
Thiamine 7% DV
Niacin 7% DV
Folate 6% DV
Iron 5% DV

The vitamins and minerals come from the whole grains in the dough. Thiamine, niacin, folate, and iron are all beneficial nutrients. But one garlic knot made with whole grain dough won’t provide a very significant source of these micronutrients.

If cheese is added on top, garlic knots will also provide a bit of calcium, another important nutrient.


Plain garlic knots made with all-purpose flour will not provide much fiber, probably around 1-2 grams per knot.

But garlic knots made with whole grain dough could provide 3-4 grams of fiber per knot. The fiber comes from the whole wheat or other whole grains.

Fiber helps promote fullness and digestive health, so choosing whole grain garlic knots is better if you want more fiber.


As mentioned earlier, a significant amount of the calories and fat in garlic knots comes from the butter they are topped with. Each knot can contain around 8g of fat, primarily saturated fat from the butter.

Some restaurants may use margarine or olive oil instead of butter, which contains healthier unsaturated fats. But many recipes call for butter.

If you are limiting your saturated fat intake, consider asking for garlic knots made without butter or with olive oil instead. Or only eat 1-2 knots instead of many.


Garlic knots are made from pizza dough, which typically contains quite a bit of salt to add flavor. The garlic seasoning also adds sodium. One garlic knot can contain around 250mg of sodium.

If you have high blood pressure or are limiting sodium, be mindful of how much you consume. Stick to 1-2 garlic knots and avoid dipping them in sauces like marinara that can be high in sodium as well. Choose knots made from dough with less salt too.


Plain garlic knots do not contain much sugar – only around 1g per knot from the small amount of sugar used in dough recipes. So sugar is not a big concern.

However, if garlic knots are topped with sweetened sauces or sugars like cinnamon sugar, the added sugar should be considered. Stick to plain or just add a touch of marinara for dipping to limit added sugars.


Garlic knots are made from regular pizza dough, so they contain gluten from the wheat flour. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, garlic knots should be avoided.

Some restaurants may offer gluten-free garlic knots, but be sure to check closely for cross contamination if you require a strict gluten-free diet.

Potential Benefits

Here are some potential benefits that garlic knots can provide:

Antioxidants from Garlic

Garlic is known to contain antioxidant compounds like allicin that can help fight inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. The garlic seasoning on the knots provides these beneficial plant compounds.

Fiber from Whole Grains

As mentioned earlier, whole grain garlic knots can provide a decent amount of fiber. Fiber supports digestive health, promotes fullness, and feeds the healthy gut bacteria.

Protein for Fullness

The protein in garlic knots, while not a huge amount, can help provide a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Protein takes longer to digest, keeping you fuller for longer.

Flavor from Herbs and Spices

Garlic knots are flavorful thanks to garlic, oregano, basil and other Italian herbs and spices. These provide taste without adding calories, salt, sugar or fat.

Potential Downsides

Here are some of the potential downsides of garlic knots:

High in Calories, Fat, and Carbs

While one knot is not too bad, these add up quickly if you eat many knots as an appetizer. The calories, fat, carbs, and sodium can accumulate. Portion control is key.

May Contain Unhealthy Fats

The typical garlic knot is topped with butter, adding a lot of saturated fat. This type of fat should be limited in a healthy diet.

Usually Made from Refined Flour

Most garlic knots are made with all-purpose white flour, which has had the nutritious bran and germ removed. Choosing whole grain knots is better when you can.

Can Contain Additives

Store-bought frozen garlic knots may contain preservatives, artificial flavors, and other additives you want to avoid. Check labels and choose fresh garlic knots when possible.

Healthy Eating Tips

Here are some tips for enjoying garlic knots as part of a healthy diet:

– Choose garlic knots made with whole wheat or multigrain dough for more fiber and nutrients. Look for knots baked instead of fried in oil.

– Ask for garlic knots made without butter or use olive oil instead for healthier fats. Also opt for just garlic seasoning instead of cheese or sugar toppings.

– Enjoy garlic knots as an occasional appetizer treat. Don’t make them an everyday option to limit calories, carbs, fat and sodium.

– Practice portion control and only eat 2-3 knots at a time, avoiding the bread basket full of them!

– Balance garlic knots with plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and healthy fats in your meals. Don’t fill up just on the knots.

– Dip garlic knots in tomato sauce instead of creamy, cheese-heavy sauces to get antioxidants from tomatoes and limit saturated fat.

– Avoid eating garlic knots late at night. They can be hard to digest and are not the healthiest option right before bed.

Healthier Garlic Knot Recipes

You can also make healthier garlic knots at home. Here are some recipe ideas:

Whole Wheat Garlic Knots

– 2 cups whole wheat flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 package active dry yeast
– 3/4 cup warm water
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
– 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1. In a large bowl, mix together whole wheat flour and salt.
2. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.
3. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil.
4. Stir until a dough forms, then knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
5. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour.
6. Punch down dough and divide into 16 pieces.
7. Roll each piece into a rope and tie into a knot.
8. Place knots on a parchment lined baking sheet.
9. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with minced garlic, Parmesan cheese and parsley.
10. Bake at 400°F for 18-20 minutes until golden brown.

Skinny Garlic Knots

– 1 pound low-calorie or cauliflower pizza dough
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
– 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
2. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces and roll into ropes.
3. Tie each rope into a loose knot and place on prepared baking sheet.
4. Brush knots with olive oil and sprinkle with minced garlic.
5. Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly browned.
6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil.

The Bottom Line

Garlic knots can be part of a healthy diet when enjoyed in moderation. Go for whole grain knots without butter or heavy toppings. Be mindful of portion sizes as the calories add up quickly. Balance garlic knots with plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and other whole foods for an overall nutritious diet. An occasional indulgence in garlic knots is perfectly fine, but they should not become a dietary staple.