This 20-Second Garlic Peeling Trick Is Better than Any Other Method

updated May 11, 2021
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Credit: Meghan Splawn

Peeling garlic isn’t difficult, but it can be incredibly annoying and time-consuming. The paper skin seems to stick to some cloves more than others (and then to everything else it comes near). There are tricks for peeling garlic in bulk (such as the two-bowl trick or in a Mason jar), but my personal favorite technique takes 20 seconds, doesn’t get any bowls or cups dirty, and makes peeling garlic absolutely easy.

The secret? A quick burst of microwave heat. When I originally learned this tip, I was just another Kitchn reader. It was many moons ago when a writer named Anjali Prasertong described it. But I was recently reminded of how great this microwave shortcut was when I need to peel loads of garlic for some garlic butter recipes. I tried it out, and it worked just as well as I remembered, saving me tons of time! Here’s how to use the microwave for easier-to-peel garlic.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

How to Peel a Head of Garlic with Your Microwave

Our original tip for peeling garlic just advised popping it into the microwave for 20 seconds. Having now prepped at least a dozen heads this way, I recommend you trim the top off the bulb (kitchen shears are great for this) and gently remove any really loose skin from around the bulb first. Then microwave the whole bulb for 20 seconds — I do this on a small plate to make removing the bulb easier. Let the whole garlic bulb cool for about 15 seconds and then peel.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

Why This Works

The garlic steams just a tiny bit in the microwave, helping the cloves to slip readily from their paper. And because you aren’t bruising the garlic by shaking it in bowls or pressing it with a knife, there’s no sticky juice or tiny flecks of garlic skin sticking to the cloves, your fingers, or the cutting board. Now go forth and make all the garlic butter, garlic chicken, and garlic bread your heart desires!