Knowing how to peel and mince garlic will up your cooking game. I’ve got the easiest and quickest ways to get fresh garlic into your meal.
Learn how to peel garlic and how to mince garlic, the easy way. These simple techniques are a surefire success!
The fresh and potent flavor that fresh garlic infuses into a dish really can’t be beat. However, those pesky paper skins can be a deterrent from using fresh garlic… and while I’m always a fan of the pre-minced garlic in the produce section of the store, sometimes you want the real deal!
It can actually be really easy to peel garlic, so don’t let that get in the way of the great flavor that garlic can add to dishes.
Garlic really steals the show in my Lemon Garlic Shrimp Kebabs, Garlic Smashed Potatoes, and Chicken with Garlic Sauce and Caramelized Shallots. Once you’ve mastered how to peel and mince garlic, you’ll need to go and try those recipes!
Check out my Garlic Conversion Guide to take the guesswork out of garlic.
Let’s learn how to peel and mince garlic in the most effortless way possible!
Fresh garlic is usually sold as a head of garlic. Inside the head of garlic are numerous cloves, about 10 or so. All of the cloves attach at a stem at the top of the head.
The head and all of the cloves are each surrounded by a paper-like skin that isn’t edible. Once removed, the flesh of the garlic is really easy to work with – grate, mince, chop, slice, smash, or even keep them whole.
Garlic has an intense flavor that adds depth to so many dishes. You can definitely buy minced garlic in a jar, but the flavor isn’t as fresh. To really get the powerful kick that garlic is supposed to have, fresh garlic is the way to go.
A head of fresh garlic will store in a cool, dark place for a few months, so it is really easy to always have some of hand. Just grab it out of your pantry and you’re ready to peel and mince garlic for any recipe.
How to Peel and Mince Garlic
There are so many different methods for peeling garlic. Sure, you could individually peel each skin off of each clove, but that would take a while.
Here are a couple of methods that work well, depending on how many cloves you need to peel and what it is being used for.
Knife Method – This is my favorite method because it is so fast and uses a utensil I already have out for meal prep – my chef’s knife. You take a clove of garlic and put it on a cutting board. Place the flat side of the knife on the garlic and then put pressure on the knife where it covers the garlic. You can give a quick tap or just push.
When you lift your knife you will see that the skin has separated from the garlic. Just grab the skin and discard it. Your garlic is a little smashed, so it is perfect for mincing or chopping. This method works well when you’re just doing a couple of cloves.
Shake Method – This is a method that seems almost unbelievable, but it really works. It is especially convenient and fast for peeling a whole head of garlic at once. Hit the head of garlic against your counter to loosen the cloves. Then slice the stem off of the head and all of the cloves should easily separate.
Place the cloves in the bottom of a glass jar or any hard container with a lid. Put the lid on the jar or bowl and start shaking. The cloves will rub against each other and after a few seconds of vigorous shaking, the cloves will be free from their skin.
Don’t forget to trim off the hard ends of each clove with a knife before you begin mincing. The ends won’t soften like the rest of the garlic.
Once the paper skin is gone, you can prepare the garlic for your recipe. Most recipes ask you to either chop or mince garlic. This helps distribute the flavor throughout a dish and the small-sized pieces of garlic are more pleasant to bite into than a huge piece.
Mince – As mentioned above, when you use the knife method the garlic clove is already a little smashed. That basically started the mincing process for you. To finish up, use your knife blade to rock back and forth across the garlic, moving the knife the length of the garlic. Go the other direction to make the pieces smaller. Minced garlic really infuses the flavor all throughout a dish.
You can also use a tool called a garlic press. You place a clove or two of garlic (check your product instructions to see if you have to peel first) into the press and squeeze the handles together. The garlic is forced through little holes that mince it. This method makes it more pulpy than mincing by hand.
Chop or Slice – Chopping and slicing garlic cloves are basically done the same as mincing, you just don’t get your pieces as small.
Slicing is done just with a knife and makes little garlic discs. Slices are relative large pieces of garlic and work well in dishes that will be cooking for a while so the flavor can meld into the rest of the ingredients.
Chopped garlic is done the same as mincing, you just don’t make the pieces so small. Use your knife to cut pieces that are chunky. This could also be accomplished with a food chopper if you have one.
How to Store
Refrigerator – If you end up with extra, you can always store it in the refrigerator. Place it in a container for up to 3 days once it has been peeled and chopped.
Freezer – You can also prepare extra so that you can freeze it to have on hand for later. Freeze in ice cube trays or lay chopped garlic on a pan and place in freezer. Once frozen, you can put into a bag and take out the amount you need for each recipe. You can store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. You will want to double bag it and keep it away from ice cream and other foods that might not taste good if a little garlic aroma seeps through.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are chopping or mincing by hand, you’ll need to peel it first. You can’t work around the skin. If you are using a garlic press, you may be able to put a clove in – peel and all – and squeeze the garlic pulp out. The skin will remain in the press and you’ll need to clean it out before you can press another clove.
You can try a couple of ways. One way is to rub salt, baking soda, and water on your hands to absorb the smell. Another way is to rub your hands on something made of stainless steel – a spoon or your sink!
For garlic that still has the skin on, the skin will become darker and you might see little green sprouts growing out of it. That means it is old and you should get fresh garlic to replace it. If you’ve already peeled and minced it, you should use it within a week. Definitely throw it out if it smells weird or has mold.
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