We Tried 5 Popular Hacks to Peel Garlic—These Are the Methods That Work (& the Ones That Don’t)

You know who loves peeling the papery, sticky skin from a clove of garlic? Absolutely no one. For something so simple, it’s one of the more tedious tasks in the kitchen. Naturally, this means there are umpteen “hacks” floating around the internet that claim to be the best way to peel garlic—ever!!! But are any of these methods *actually* the best? We tried five to find out which garlic-peeling tricks work…and which don’t.

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garlic peeling trick boiling water
Katherine Gillen

Hack #1: The Boiling Water Method

We actually tested this hack back in May 2020—right when our quarantine kitchen fatigue was setting in. The idea is that if you soak the garlic in boiling water for one minute, the skin will soften enough that it slides right off. Does it work? Yes. Is it timesaving? Not really, since you have to wait for the garlic to cool slightly before peeling it (unless you like burnt fingertips), and you have to wait for the water to boil. We would probably only resort to this hack if we needed to peel, like, ten cloves of garlic.

The verdict: Try it, if you have a lot of garlic and time. Otherwise, you might want to skip.

bowl method
Katherine Gillen

Hack #2: The Shake Method

Here’s what you’re going to do: Grab two bowls, put your garlic inside one of them and invert the other on top, holding them together with your hands. Now shake your DIY garlic maraca until your arms are about to fall off. Voilà, that garlic should have separated from its skin in the bowl. Shockingly, this method actually works. Our only suggestion? Wrap the bowls in a towel to keep them from slipping apart—or just use any container with a lid.

The verdict: Try it, you’ll like it.

smash hack
Katherine Gillen

Hack #3: The Crush Method

Unless you’ve never cooked with garlic in your life, you’re probably familiar with this trick: Place the garlic on a cutting board and use the flat side of a chef’s knife to crush the clove with the heel of your palm. It works, sure, but you’ll end up with a smooshed piece of garlic, which is messy and really hard to mince properly. TBH, we’re only going to resort to this method when we’re not concerned about the way our garlic looks going into the pot.

The verdict: Skip it (unless you’re feeling lazy).

pinch hack
Katherine Gillen

Hack #4: The Pinch Method

This is a trick that requires no extra tools. All you do is take a garlic clove between your curled index finger and thumb, and pinch until the skin makes a popping noise. It should then peel off pretty easily, albeit sometimes in multiple pieces. This editor is admittedly biased toward this simple trick—she learned it from a classmate in culinary school. It’s straightforward, effective and doesn’t leave your garlic in carnage on the cutting board (we’re looking at you, hack no. 3).

The verdict: Try it and it just might change your life.

palm method
Katherine Gillen

Hack #5: The Palm Method

Grab a clove of garlic and roll it vigorously between your flat palms. Is your garlic peeled yet? We’re going to bet that it’s not…but your hands are probably a little roughed up. (The above photo was taken after rolling the garlic for about a minute.) This method, which came to us from a cooking class, no less, is a devastating combination of painful and unhelpful, so we’ll be skipping it, thank you very much.

The verdict: Skip it, unless you like pain.

Katherine Gillen

Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...
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