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The Absolute Easiest Way To Peel Garlic, According to a Chef

This pro hack is a total game-changer, and all you need is a knife.

Whether you're making shrimp scampi, slow-cooker chicken stew, or lemon-herb salad dressing, garlic makes every dish even more delicious. Not to mention, it's loaded with potential health benefits, too. The only problem? Peeling it can be a real pain.

Not only is it tedious and time consuming to get every piece of the paper skins off, but they tend to stick to your fingers, making it even more challenging. You could just snag some pre-peeled cloves at the store, but then you're sacrificing freshness and flavor. That's where this chef-approved hack for how to peel garlic comes in.

According to Michael Handal, culinary arts​ chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education, the easiest way to peel garlic is the crush method.

Once you learn how to peel garlic using the crush method, you'll also want to learn how to cut garlic the right way.

How to use the crush method

smashing garlic
  • To start, remove one clove from the head of garlic. Place it on a cutting board, with the root end facing toward you. To keep the board from slipping, try placing a damp kitchen towel underneath it.
  • Rest the flat side of a 6-8 inch chef's knife on top of the clove of garlic so that the sharp side is facing away from you.
  • Using the heel of your hand, strike the flat side of the knife down onto the garlic clove. If necessary, you can press the blade down a second time.

"This should slightly crush the clove of garlic and release the skin," says Handal. Then, you can easily peel the skin off the clove of garlic. After that, you can repeat this process for any additional cloves your recipe requires.

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Why the crush method is best

One reason Handal likes this approach is that you don't need any special tools or equipment. You just need a cutting board and a quality knife.

"This method is a good one to follow to keep your workflow going when you are prepping recipes," he explains. "There's no need to stop and look for other things."

As an added bonus, this multitasking method doesn't just peel the clove but also crushes it, which releases some of the sulfur, intensifying the flavor of the garlic. A lot of slow-cooking dishes, like marinades and braises, often specifically call for crushed garlic, too.

Rebecca Strong
Rebecca Strong is a Boston-based freelance health/wellness, lifestyle, and travel writer. Read more about Rebecca