How to Peel Garlic

Garlic is notoriously difficult to peel, but no more. We’re giving you the scoop on how to peel garlic the very best ways.

Garlic is notoriously difficult to peel, but no more. We're giving you the scoop on how to peel garlic the very best ways.

As an Italian American, garlic has played a major role in my culinary life from an early age. It’s one of the staple ingredients to most Italian dishes and my family passed an all encompassing mentality of “just add garlic to it” down the line to me.

But when I first started cooking with garlic it was frustrating. It wasn’t the smell or the unfortunate garlic breath related side effects that made me grit my teeth in irritation, although we do have these great tips for how to combat garlic breath so make sure you check them out. It was the act of trying to peel the garlic, and since we have a ton of amazing garlic recipes coming your way this month, you need to know how to peel it easily.

Garlic comes in a bulb, inside of which there are several individually wrapped cloves. In that sense, garlic is kind of the Starbursts of the vegetable world in that each helping of it has its own packaging. (But instead of tasting sweet it tastes….you know…like garlic).

If only peeling garlic were as easy as unwrapping a Starburst…

Well, there are a few tried and true methods that you can use to make your garlic peeling experience much easier, so you get right down to the chopping, mincing and cooking. (AKA the fun part!)

Here are three of the best ways to peel garlic.

The Knife Method

Most people don’t break out the knives until it’s time to start chopping, but before you mince to your heart’s content, you can get some extra mileage out of the blade.

Lay a clove of garlic on a cutting board and get a large chef’s knife. Lay the flat side of the knife over the clove and then either roll the garlic under it by pressing down on top or smack the knife to break up the skin.

I personally prefer the rolling method as I don’t want to break the clove before I chop it. Also, make sure you’re using a metal knife and not a ceramic or plastic one, as they could break.

Either way, the skin will crack and it will be far easier to peel away. Repeat this step for each clove you’re going to be using.

The Shake It Up Method

This is my favorite way to break up large groups of garlic cloves at once. It saves a lot of time for garlic heavy recipes when you don’t want to break up the cloves individually with a chef’s knife.

Get a large hard bowl with a hard plastic lid. Drop the garlic cloves inside and firmly seal the lid on top of the bowl. Then, just go nuts shaking it up, bouncing the cloves off the bottom, sides and lid of the bowl.

This action should break up the skin and make it easy to peel right off. If it doesn’t work right away, reseal the bowl and shake it up again.

The risk associated with this method is that you could potentially bruise the cloves, but if that doesn’t concern you then have at it.

The Tool Method

No, you aren’t a tool if you use this method. This is the act of using a kitchen tool to help you peel your garlic.

Garlic peelers are sold all over, with many options now available on Amazon. These tools are typically made from silicon and kind of look like multi-colored cannoli shells (just like this one). 

Place your garlic cloves in the tube and apply direct pressure with the palm of your hand. While maintaining pressure, roll the tube back and forth. You should be able to hear the skin breaking apart.

Once you’re done, just tip out your cloves and peel whatever broken skin remains on them.

Garlic peelers sometimes come as a part of a set along with a garlic press, which allows you to perfectly mince with a simple squeeze. I definitely recommend these combined sets as it’s a far safer and more efficient way to peel and mince garlic (this one is quite reasonably priced). The less I have to interact with knives the happier my fingertips are. 

In Conclusion

There you have it! Three solid ways to peel garlic without having to dig in with your fingernails. What’s your favorite way to peel garlic efficiently? Do you have a favorite method we missed? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know.

Garlic is notoriously difficult to peel, but no more. We\'re giving you the scoop on how to peel garlic the very best ways.
Garlic is notoriously difficult to peel, but no more. We\'re giving you the scoop on how to peel garlic the very best ways.

Kevin Kessler

Kevin J. Kessler is an experienced professional writer and published author living in Orlando, Florida. With a lifelong passion for food, this sandwich loving Italian boy enjoys exploring unanswered questions about the foods we all know and love so well. Kevin’s foodie lifestyle was born through his love of Walt Disney World and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. A lover of stories, he enjoys trying new dishes from all over the world and learning everything there is to know about where food comes from, how its prepared, and what variations on it exist.