Learn how to mince garlic the easy way! (You don’t need a special tool! Your chef’s knife will work just fine!) With a handful of simple techniques, you can peel and mince garlic in just a few minutes.

Close up of a large pile of minced garlic.
Photo Credits: Andrea Gralow

Minced garlic is an essential ingredient in so many of my recipes, from Easy Homemade Hummus to Greek-Style Eggplant. It’s really a workhorse in my kitchen and one of the flavor-makers I turn to most often. 

Peeling and mincing garlic into tiny pieces may seem like a chore, especially when you can just buy a pre-minced jar at the store. In reality, with a few simple tricks it’s so easy. And, while the jars work in a pinch, the bold flavor you get from freshly minced garlic is totally worth the few minutes it takes to mince it by hand. Plus, just like with slicing your own watermelon or pineapple, it's much more economical.

This step-by-step guide to how to peel, mince and store garlic should put all of your garlic worries to rest!

Table of Contents
  1. How to Peel Garlic 
  2. How to Mince Garlic
  3. How to Store Minced Garlic 
  4. Difference Between Minced, Crushed, Grated, Chopped and Sliced Garlic
  5. Extra Tips for Mincing Garlic 
  6. Recipes for Garlic Lovers
  7. How to Mince Garlic Recipe

How to Peel Garlic 

The best, easiest, and fastest way to peel garlic is with the smash technique. (Sometimes lovingly called the “hulk smash!”) To peel garlic: 

  • Separate the cloves: Set a head of garlic on a sturdy hard surface, like your counter or cutting board. Use the palm of your hand to press down on the top until it breaks apart into individual cloves. Person using two hands to press down on a head of garlic, separating the cloves.
  • Smash: Grab the cloves you plan to use. (Store the remaining cloves at room temperature out of the sun.) Hold your knife in your non-dominant hand with the blade facing away from you. Set the side of your knife against one clove. Use the palm of your dominant hand to press firmly and forcefully down on the flat side of the knife. A little force is a good thing! It will release the garlic from its papery covering.Person smashing garlic using the side of the knife and the palm of their hand.
  • Peel: Use your hands to release the papery outer covering of the garlic. Repeat with the remaining garlic cloves. Person peeling garlic and exposing the clove.

How to Mince Garlic

To learn how to mince garlic, your first step is a sharp chef’s knife. Sharp knives will make you a much faster cook. Plus, because you’re much less likely to slip with a sharp knife, it’s actually safer than a dull one. 

  • Get ready: Line up your peeled garlic cloves and switch the knife to your dominant hand. Slice off and discard any dry-looking ends. Person trimming off the end of garlic using a large chef's knife.
  • Do the fan: Set the top of your knife on your cutting board. Place your non-dominant hand on top of the knife to steady it. Start chopping the garlic by fanning your knife back and forth in a rocking motion. Keep the tip of your knife in contact with the board while you fan. Keep at it until you have tiny pieces of minced garlic.Close up of someone mincing garlic, with their left hand being used to steady the knife.

How to Store Minced Garlic 

Minced garlic will mellow with time, but a jar of minced garlic can help you get ahead for the week. Plus, it’ll still be fresher than the pre-minced garlic you can buy in the store and less expensive. 

To store minced garlic, transfer it to an airtight container. A Mason jar, Tupperware container, or resealable plastic bag works well. If you’re using a bag, press out any air before sealing. Refrigerate for up to one week.

You can also freeze garlic for up to six months. Use frozen garlic only for dishes in which the garlic is cooked, as the texture and flavor will be slightly different than fresh garlic.

Wooden cutting board showing minced, chopped, grated, smashed, and sliced garlic.

Difference Between Minced, Crushed, Grated, Chopped and Sliced Garlic

The way the garlic is prepared has subtle effects on the flavor of the dish. At the end of the day, though, garlic is garlic! You should do what makes sense for your time constraints and preferences. 

  • Minced garlic is simply garlic that’s been finely chopped. It’s what I use most, as it imparts a bold flavor that’s not too overpowering. Plus, you don’t end up chewing on pieces of garlic. I use minced garlic in many sauces and dressings like Apple Cider Vinaigrette and Ladolemono Greek Salad Dressing.  
  • Crushed garlic is best for giving an extra gentle garlic flavor with no texture, like with Mediterranean-style Oven Baked Salmon. Crushed garlic also works well for marinades, longer cooking times, or generally milder dishes. You can even crush the garlic and leave the skin on for added nuance, which works in recipes like our Homemade Chicken Stock.
  • Grated garlic is a quick and easy way to make a garlic paste. I typically use minced garlic. If you’re short on time, though, grated garlic is a good substitute in dishes where the garlic is left raw, like the garlicky yogurt found in Turkish Poached Eggs or this easy recipe for aioli. Grated garlic tends to burn when exposed to heat, so it’s best to mince garlic rather than grated for recipes where it’s cooked.
  • Chopped garlic. Larger pieces of garlic make for a more rustic texture and give that home-cooked feeling. I love it for comforting soups, like my Sausage Tortellini Soup.
  • Sliced garlic doesn’t try to be sneaky! In fact, it asks to be seen and given credit for all its hard work. Use for dishes where garlic is the star of the show, like Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
  • If you're interesting in roasting garlic, well we have you covered there too! Read our article on How to Roast Garlic to learn more about that technique.
Three heads of garlic on a plate with a blue linen napkin in the background.

Extra Tips for Mincing Garlic 

Once you have the technique down, you may want to take your knife skills to the next level. Here are some added tips and tricks for how to mince garlic.

  • Remove the germ. If you find a green sprout in the center of your garlic clove, use the tip of your knife to remove it. The germ can be bitter and leave an offputting flavor. 
  • Do the drag. Fan the knife for a bit, running it back and forth with your non-dominant hand acting as the support. Once the garlic starts accumulating on the edges of your knife, gently drag it along the surface of your cutting board. This will get you one even layer of chopped garlic that you can continue mincing and dragging until it turns into a paste. This is great in creamy recipes like aioli, where you want as little texture as possible.
  • Use gravity. This one’s a little extra cheffy but it works! Once you’ve dragged the knife along the cutting board to make one layer of garlic, let go of your non-dominant hand. Hold the knife in your dominant hand and let your wrist go semi-slack. Finish chopping the garlic using gravity and the weight of your knife. This will make some noise! But it’s quick and effective as the garlic doesn’t stick to your knife. 

Recipes for Garlic Lovers

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Pile of minced garlic on a wooden cutting board with one unpeeled garlic clove on the side.
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5 from 3 votes

How to Mince Garlic

Learn how to mince garlic the easy way! With a handful of simple techniques, you can peel and mince garlic in just a few minutes.
Prep Time2 minutes
Total Time2 minutes
Cuisine: American
Calories: 41.7kcal

Materials

  • 1 head garlic

Instructions

  • Separate the cloves: Set a head of garlic on a sturdy hard surface, like your counter or cutting board. Use the palm of your hand to press down on the top until the cloves separate.
  • Smash: Grab the cloves you plan to use. (Store the remaining cloves at room temperature out of the sun.) Hold your knife in your non-dominant hand with the blade facing away from you. Set the back of your knife against one clove. Use the palm of your dominant hand to slap down on the flat side of the knife. Use some force! It will release the garlic from its papery covering.
  • Peel: Use your hands to remove the papery outer covering of the garlic. Repeat with the remaining garlic cloves.
  • Get ready: Line up your peeled garlic cloves and switch the knife to your dominant hand. Slice off and discard any dry-looking ends.
  • Do the fan: Set the top of your knife on your cutting board. Place your non-dominant hand on top of the knife to steady it. Start chopping the garlic by fanning your knife back and forth in a rocking motion. Keep the tip of your knife in contact with the board while you fan. Keep at it until you have tiny pieces of minced garlic.
  • To store: Use minced garlic right away or store it for up to 1 week in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer. Transfer it to an airtight container. A Mason jar, Tupperware container, or resealable plastic bag works well. If you’re using a bag, press out any air before sealing.

Video

Notes

  • If you find a green sprout in the center of your garlic clove, use the tip of your knife to remove it. The germ can be bitter.
  • Visit our shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils, honey, jams, and spices.

Nutrition

Calories: 41.7kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.3g | Protein: 1.8g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 4.8mg | Potassium: 112.3mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 2.5IU | Vitamin C: 8.7mg | Calcium: 50.7mg | Iron: 0.5mg

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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5 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. Sue Guilbeau says:

    5 stars
    Can't wait to make this! Also, thanks for the tip on minicing garlic!