How to Peel and Chop Garlic Like a Pro

Resist the urge to buy pre-chopped garlic. Instead, store fresh garlic in a cool place and follow these prep steps.

Cooking without garlic? Unthinkable! You likely already know a few important garlic basics. But knowing how to peel, chop, and mince garlic can kick your home-chef skills up a few notches. Sure, you can buy pre-chopped garlic at nearly any grocery store, but learning how to cut garlic yourself is more satisfying—and can add better flavors to your pestos, pasta, and every dish in between.

Like learning how to slice and dice an onion or how to peel a mango, learning how to chop (or mince) garlic just takes patience and practice. Garlic cloves are rather small, so improving your knife skills here, particularly if you're working toward a mince, will help you out with any recipe, no matter what you're chopping.

What You'll Need

  • Cutting board
  • Chef's knife
  • Garlic
  • Garlic press

How to Peel Garlic

Peeling garlic is a must: The papery skins are not pleasant to eat. Once the bulb is peeled and you've separated the cloves, you can decide if you want to chop garlic (for larger pieces in your dish) or mince it (for smaller ones). In a few minutes, with this handy guide to how to peel and chop garlic, you'll be ready to move on to the rest of your cooking endeavors.

  1. Peel off papery layers. Peel away as many of the skins as possible and discard.
  2. Press into a tight garlic bulb with the palm of your hand. If cloves are tight and can't be easily pulled free, use the ball of your hand to press and roll the garlic against your cutting board to loosen the cloves.
  3. Peel the cloves. Slice off the end of the clove, where it was attached to the bulb. Then place the clove beneath your chef's knife and whack the knife with your other hand; this will loosen the skin. Remove and discard any skins.

How to Chop Garlic

Chopped garlic can add flavor to any dish. It's common in Italian dishes—pasta, sauces, pizzas, etc.—but it can enliven vegetable dishes, stews, soups, and more, too. Once you've gotten the hang of chopping your own garlic, you'll be adding it to everything.

  1. Start by slicing a clove. For a fine chop, hold the tip of the knife with one hand and use the other to rock the blade back and forth over your slices. If your knife skills are up to it, you can attempt a mince by continuing to cut the garlic until the pieces are very small.
  2. To mince garlic, use a garlic press. For garlic that's almost pulverized, place the clove into a garlic press and press down until the whole clove comes through the holes. A zester will also work, though the result will be more of a paste than defined, minced pieces.

Tip: Finely chopped garlic releases more juices, which add flavor.

Need to Peel a Lot of Garlic Cloves Fast?

Attempting to cook a garlicky dish but don't really want to spend all that time peeling each and every clove? Try this easy trick: Place the separated garlic cloves in a stainless steel bowl and cover with another bowl forming a sphere. Shake the bowls vigorously and the peels will flake off inside.

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