Learn how to peel garlic 3 ways with these quick and easy hacks! Shake up a head of garlic in a jar and you’ve got 20 peeled garlic cloves in just 20 seconds! Prefer to peel the garlic with a knife, or use the microwave hack? No worries, I’ve got instructions for those too!

garlic cloves in glass jar

Whether you have a small amount of garlic, or an entire head of garlic to peel, I have a garlic peeling hack for you!

My favorite way is the classic knife smash, but I also love the “shake it up” trick, I just don’t find that it works quite as well as people on TikTok will tell you. (More on that below!)

If you only have a small amount of garlic to peel, the knife technique will be perfect for you! 

Once the cloves are peeled, you can chop, mince, slice, or squeeze them through a garlic press to use in all kinds of recipes. Fresh garlic adds so much flavor to pasta, soups, roasts, appetizers, side dishes and entrées!

The “shake it up” method

  1. Use your hands to break the cloves of garlic from the root of the garlic bulb.
  2. Place all of the garlic cloves, along with the papery skins, into a mason jar, or bowl.
  3. Place a lid on the jar, or bowl, and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
  4. Remove the lid and pull out all of the garlic cloves, then discard the papery skins.

This shake method is great for peeling large amounts of garlic, because you can simply use a larger bowl to shake up 2 or 3 heads of garlic at a time.

This method is popular on the social platform TikTok and I’ve seen it work well in videos for other people, unfortunately I didn’t have quite the same results. As you can see in the second picture above, some of the skins feel off of the cloves, but definitely not all of them. They were easier to peel once I removed them from the jar, but I still had to spend 2-3 minutes to finish peeling the cloves of garlic.

In the end, I would recommend this method as a good starting point for peeling large amounts of garlic, but just know that you will have to spend a few hands-on minutes, peeling the extra papery skins from the garlic cloves.

I have found that the fresher the head of garlic is, the more the skins will stick to the garlic cloves and the harder they are to peel off. A head of garlic that’s a week or two old, will be easier to peel.

The knife method

This is the most classic method for peeling garlic, and the one most often used in restaurants by professional chefs. For this method, you will use a large chef’s knife and cutting board to peel individual cloves of garlic

Simply break up the head of garlic, then place the flat side of the knife on top of the garlic cloves and smash them by pressing on the top of the knife with the palm of your hand. (Be aware of the sharp blade!) This will make the peels fall of the garlic clove so that you can pull away the papery skin and you’re left with perfect garlic cloves for cooking.

unpeeled garlic cloves in glass bowl of water

The microwave method

This method was the most disappointing and one that I would not recommend. There’s a lot of people on the internet that will recommend submerging unpeeled cloves of garlic in a bowl of water, then microwaving them for 60 seconds. The idea is that then the skins will peel right off. Unfortunately this was not the result I got.

Since the skins were now soaking wet, I found them incredibly difficult to peel off of the cloves of garlic. I actually ended up using the knife method on most of these cloves of garlic, just to make it easier to get the skins peeled from the garlic cloves.

In the end, I would not recommend this method.

peeled cloves of garlic on brown cutting board

Garlic facts and pro tips

  • Each head of garlic contains approximately 20 cloves of garlic.
  • An average head of garlic weighs approximately 3 ounces. While larger heads of garlic can weigh double that, at around 6 ounces, and smaller heads of garlic can weigh 2 ounces or less.
  • A whole head of garlic is best stored in a dark, cool place in an open container. I store mine in a wire basket in the pantry before peeling the cloves of garlic.
  • When purchasing garlic, always make sure the head of garlic is not soft and has no brown spots. This will ensure you’re purchasing a fresh bulb of garlic.

How to store peeled garlic

  • Store garlic cloves in a zipper bag or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
  • Peeled garlic cloves can also be stored in a freezer-safe bag, or container, in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Ways to use garlic

I could probably list over 1000 recipes and ways to use garlic here, but I’m going to give you just a few ideas to start with that really highlight the flavor of fresh garlic cloves! You can also use this guide to make roasted garlic with your peeled garlic cloves, in the oven or an air fryer.

More cooking resources

Don’t miss these other quick and easy how-to posts and kitchen tutorials!

peeled cloves of garlic on brown cutting board
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How To Peel Garlic

Learn how to peel garlic 3 ways with these quick and easy hacks! Shake up a head of garlic in a jar and you've got 20 peeled garlic cloves in just 20 seconds! Prefer to peel the garlic with a knife, or use the microwave hack? No worries, I've got instructions for those too!

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic

Instructions

Knife Method

  • Use your hands to break the cloves of garlic from the root of the garlic bulb.
  • Place the flat side of a chefs knife on top of the garlic cloves and smash them by pressing on the top of the knife with the palm of your hand.
  • The papery skins should peel right off of the cloves and you’re left with perfect garlic cloves for cooking.

"Shake It Up" Method

  • Use your hands to break the cloves of garlic from the root of the garlic bulb.
  • Place all of the garlic cloves, along with the papery skins, into a mason jar, or bowl.
  • Place a lid on the jar, or bowl, and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
  • Remove the lid and pull out all of the garlic cloves, peel off any remaining skins, then discard the rest of the papery skins from the jar or bowl.

Microwave Method

  • While this was my least successful method for peeling garlic cloves, if you'd like to give it a try, use your hands to break the cloves of garlic from the root of the garlic bulb.
  • Place the unpeeled cloves of garlic in a large bowl and cover with water.
  • Place in the microwave for 60 seconds.
  • Remove from the microwave and peel the papery skins from the garlic cloves.

Notes

  • Each head of garlic contains approximately 20 cloves of garlic.
  • An average head of garlic weighs approximately 3 ounces. While larger heads of garlic can weigh double that, at around 6 ounces, and smaller heads of garlic can weigh 2 ounces or less.
  • A head of garlic is best stored in a dark, cool place in an open container. I store mine in a wire basket in the pantry before peeling the cloves of garlic.
  • Store garlic cloves in a zipper bag or airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
  • Peeled garlic cloves can also be stored in a freezer-safe bag, or container, in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 2kcalCarbohydrates 0.5gProtein 0.1gFat 0.01gSodium 0.2mgPotassium 6mgFiber 0.03gSugar 0.01gVitamin A 0.1mgVitamin C 0.4mgCalcium 3mgIron 0.02mg
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