The Fastest, Most Efficient Way to Peel Garlic

Tired of fussing with stubborn garlic cloves? Here’s the easy way to peel garlic fast, no special tools required.

Cloves of garlic and a garlic head on a wood cutting board

Lori Rice

You can fill a whole kitchen junk drawer with gadgets for mincing, peeling, and pressing fresh garlic. Some work fine; others just take up space.

But you don’t need gimmicky tools to peel garlic—just a knife, a cutting board, and a spirited whack. It takes only seconds.

Garlic cloves with a chef's knife on a wood cutting board

Lori Rice

An Easy Way to Peel Garlic

Start with fresh garlic. If it’s months old, the garlic cloves inside the peels can get rubbery; they won’t work with this method.

Single garlic clove next to a chef's knife

Lori Rice

Get however many cloves of garlic you need. An easy way to separate cloves of garlic from the head is to put the whole head on your cutting board or counter, put your palm on the garlic, and lay into it with your full weight. They should break apart with a few presses.

Now that you have garlic cloves loose, lay one on the cutting board, close to the edge facing you.

Chef's knife covering a garlic clove on a wood cutting board

Lori Rice

Take a broad-bladed knife, like a chef’s knife or a santoku. A paring knife won’t work for this method.

Pushing down on chef's knife to peel a clove of garlic

Lori Rice

Lay the widest part of the blade on the garlic. Steady the handle with your dominant hand.

Whacking a chef's knife to peel a clove of garlic

Lori Rice

Hover the open palm of your non-dominant hand just over the blade where the garlic is, then give the knife blade a good whack. Don’t be afraid to put some pep into it.

Garlic peel loosened

Lori Rice

Pop! Usually that’s all it takes. It should crush the clove enough that you can slip the peel right off. If it’s stubborn, whack it again. Repeat with as many cloves as needed.

Peeling off the skin of a garlic clove

Lori Rice

Peeled garlic cloves on a wood cutting board

Lori Rice

What if The Peel Doesn’t Come Off?

Sometimes it happens, usually when your garlic is on the older side and isn’t plump and resilient. For those times, or if you only have a paring knife, here’s an alternate method.

Grip the clove of garlic so the tip points toward your cutting board. Then cut the clove in half lengthwise and pop the halved clove out of the peel.

If this reveals a green sprout in the center of the clove, it’s a good idea to dig that out with the tip of your knife and discard it; it can make your food taste bitter.

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