We Tried 8 Methods For Peeling Garlic And One Was A Clear Winner

Two heads of garic
Two heads of garic - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

As a chef, garlic is one of my secret weapons for adding flavor to practically every dish I make. I am accustomed to peeling copious quantities of this aromatic in a single sitting, but most people are not. The process can be messy, frustrating, and downright dangerous if you are not paying attention. Keeping this in mind, I thought it would be fun to research and test the many tricks and hacks for easier ways to peel garlic across the internet. I'll cover my process for discovering these methods in more detail at the end of this exposé.

It turns out that the joke was on me. Some methods were legitimately effective, while others were not only useless, but they made things infinitely more challenging and likely sent vampires from anywhere within a 100-mile radius of my kitchen fleeing for the hills. I did the literal dirty work for you so that you could spare your nose, hands, countertops, microwave, knives, and nerves from the somewhat challenging job of discovering how to peel garlic without it being such a laborious and stinky task. Read on to see the methods that work and those you should skip.

Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay

8. Cut The Garlic Head In Half

Halved garlic
Halved garlic - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

How do I hate this method? Let me count the ways. This purported hack recommends cutting a head of garlic in half before whacking it with the back of your knife or a spatula to smack the garlic cloves out of the garlic halves. To say this method failed would be an understatement. Not only does it not work, but it left me using expletives in a garlic-induced rage.

First, slicing a whole head of garlic in half without losing any digits is no easy feat, even with a quality, sharp chef knife. Once the upper half of the garlic was severed from the stem end, some of the halved cloves began falling out of the top of the garlic with their skins intact. I unsuccessfully attempted to put them back in place before pounding away at the upside-down garlic halves to remove the cloves.

As suspected, the remaining cloves fell out of the top half, skins still attached, and the ones from the stem end stayed put, refusing to budge. After repeated beatings, I could not coax them out of there. I had to pull each clove off by hand and smash them with a knife to loosen the peels before peeling the skins off with my fingers, which had my thumbs on fire and resulted in halved garlic cloves flying across my kitchen like little garlic darts. I give this method an F- and may seek allium-provoked anger management consultation that I did not realize I needed.

7. Pierce The Garlic With A Paring Knife

Garlic pierced with knife
Garlic pierced with knife - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Piercing the garlic with a knife was another method that had me questioning my choices in life and the legitimacy of anything I found online. It involves using a paring or steak knife to essentially pry each garlic clove out of its peel by holding the entire head of garlic in one hand and poking at each clove individually with the knife using the other hand. I saw a couple of different versions, one that said this would work without first removing some of the exterior peel of the head of garlic and others suggesting discarding these before attempting this process.

Because I am thorough, I attempted both methods with multiple knives and found one to be more annoying than the other. Trying to get through the exterior hull of the garlic head was a complete non-starter. I couldn't even pierce the cloves under a thicker layer of skin. Once I removed the skins, the knife poked through, but when I attempted to pop the clove out of the head, it split in half and remained put.

After several ill-fated attempts at recreating this method, I finally gave up. Anyone who managed to get this to work had a knife fashioned by Harry Potter or possessed some garlic wizardry that I lack. I give this method an F grade as well.

6. Shake The Garlic Between Two Bowls

Garlic peeled with bowls
Garlic peeled with bowls - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Another method I tested is one some swear by, but I am unsure why, as I could not recreate it. The idea is to remove garlic cloves from the head, cut off the ends that attach to the stem, place them between two metal bowls that fit neatly together, and shake them for 20 seconds to loosen the peels. I followed this method to the letter and could not get any peels to budge despite my best attempts at squeezing the two bowls together and multiple tries.

It is possible that with heavier-duty metal bowls that are flatter, the method might work. From what I read online, I was not the only one who tested this method and had similarly poor results. The bottom line? I would not recommend it. Far more effective methods exist that are more foolproof and require less effort and clean-up. This method gets a D grade from me.

5. Use A Garlic Peeler

Garlic peeled with peeler
Garlic peeled with peeler - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

I had my suspicions about this method from the get-go. I have a lot of biases against kitchen gadgets that profess to solve the mysteries of achieving any one task in the kitchen. Many of them are stupidly expensive and do not work as advertised. I wanted to give every method its fair chance, so I ordered some of these silicone garlic peelers.

Once I removed the garlic cloves from the head, I placed a few of them in the silicone garlic peeler, which incidentally looks like a floppy cannoli shell, but I digress. After squishing the cloves around, hoping that the friction from the silicone against the peels would rub them away like a Magic Eraser pad, I pulled them out. One out of the bunch had come out of its peel, but the others remained safely nestled in their jackets.

To make things easier, I cut the ends of the garlic off in hopes that this would loosen the peels further and repeated the process. Doing so made the method work more effectively, with about 50% of the larger cloves popping away from their shells. It did not work for the smaller cloves, which seemed to spin around in there without really budging. While this method was not a total bust, it was pretty lousy. And the biggest bummer is that I could only find a pack of three garlic peelers when I ordered them, so now I have three useless kitchen gadgets cluttering my kitchen drawers. This method gets a D grade.

4. Nuke The Garlic In The Microwave

Garlic peeled in microwave
Garlic peeled in microwave - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

This method was mercurial at best. Most versions of using the microwave to peel garlic suggest putting the cloves in the microwave for 20 seconds before the peels slide away like silky lingerie. A few more thorough reviews of this method suggested only leaving the garlic in the microwave for 10 seconds, or they may cook.

I decided to err on the side of caution. I cut the stem ends away before placing the cloves in a microwave-safe bowl. I then set them in the microwave and started with a 10-second spin. The initial result was slightly warm garlic with peels that would not budge. I put them back in for another 10 seconds when I began to smell the delightful aroma of sautéed garlic and hear popping noises.

Upon retrieving the garlic from the microwave, the peels did slide right off, but the garlic was hot, slightly soft, and had begun to cook. Even after allowing them to cool, the garlic was too sticky and squishy to chop with a knife. I could only see this application working if you need a lot of whole garlic for a recipe, like a 40 Clove Garlic Chicken. Otherwise, this method is unreliable and does not yield garlic that can be useful in any recipe. I give this method a D+ or C-.

3. Smash The Garlic With A Knife

Garlic peeled with a knife
Garlic peeled with a knife - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

Smashing garlic with a knife to remove the peel is the go-to of many a chef and home cook. It is relatively foolproof as long as you have a good sharp knife. That said, there are some pitfalls to this method.

It tends to work better on larger pieces of garlic than on smaller ones. It also can be dangerous. If you are not paying attention and have the edge of your knife angled upwards, you can cut your fist with the knife as you smash down on the garlic. There is also always the possibility, nay likelihood, that cloves of garlic will go flying across the kitchen when you pound down on them with your knife.

Despite these potential pitfalls, this is still a solid method if you are comfortable using a chef's knife. I suggest you cut the stem ends of the garlic off before smashing them, as this will help loosen the peels more easily. If you are concerned about cutting your palm or having garlic fly around, cover the knife with a clean dish towel before smashing the garlic. Since this is the average way to peel garlic, this method gets a C+ grade. It is consistent but not necessarily a miraculous time-saving hack.

2. Soak The Garlic In Hot Water

Garlic peeled in hot water
Garlic peeled in hot water - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

After the microwave debacle, I was reluctant to soak the garlic cloves in hot water. I anticipated similar issues with cooking the garlic before I could chop them. I cut the stem ends off each garlic clove before microwaving the water until it was steaming but not boiling. I tossed the garlic cloves in the hot water and allowed them to stay there for about five minutes.

When I removed them from the water, I was pleasantly surprised that they were not squishy or soft. They retained their firm texture, and the peels came off without much effort. This method may also be great for dealing with small, difficult-to-handle garlic cloves. If you have a lot of garlic of different shapes and sizes to peel at once, this is a solid method for excavating those cloves from their pesky peels. I give this one a B+ grade for efficacy and ease.

1. Rattle The Garlic In A Jar Or Cocktail Shaker

Garlic peeled in jar
Garlic peeled in jar - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

The method that shockingly ranked highest in efficiency for peeling garlic was rattling the cloves in a jar. The theory behind this method is similar to using two bowls. For this reason, I was skeptical at first to try it. Since I do not own a cocktail shaker, I used a mason jar, though you could use any jar with a tightly fitting lid.

Before I popped the garlic cloves in the jar, I cut off their stem ends. I then sealed them in the jar and shook them away as if I were making a martini for James Bond. When I opened the jar, I was pleased to note that about two-thirds of the garlic cloves had peeled right off. If I had returned the remaining cloves to the jar, I likely could have gotten the rest to peel, too.

Though a cocktail shaker would work, I would caution against using it if you wish to continue employing it in making mixed drinks. While garlic-infused vodka and garlic-stuffed olives in a martini are a thing, you do not want your Cosmopolitan or Manhattan to smell like garlic, and getting the aroma out of the shaker is a bit challenging. The mason jar worked brilliantly, and I give it a solid A grade.


Pile of peeled garlic
Pile of peeled garlic - Monika Sudakov/Daily Meal

I began my quest to discover the best methods for peeling garlic on the internet, scouring articles, social media, and online forums. Those methods mentioned repeatedly were the ones I decided to try. I threw in a couple more obscure ones, like using a knife to pierce the clove out of its peel and halving the garlic head for good measure. After deciding on my methods, I purchased the garlic peeler(s) and several large heads of garlic. I avoided smaller heads, which are challenging to handle even in the best circumstances.

I needed to test the methods with small and large garlic cloves to assess if any were less effective at dealing with the smaller ones. If so, I could note that. I was interested in how quickly or easily the peels came away and how much of a mess each method made. You are not coming out ahead if you have to spend the extra time you saved on cleanup.

Lastly, I was searching for consistency. I ranked it lower if a method worked sometimes but was not replicable. Based on these factors, I assigned each method a grade, documented my observations, and yielded a list of methods that hopefully will encourage you to purchase whole garlic over the pre-minced stuff in a container more frequently for all your culinary needs.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.