How To Make Garlic Paste with Just Salt and a Knife

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Sometimes I miss the little blue-lidded jar of garlic paste my mom kept in the fridge. The mild garlic flavor was perfect while I was learning to cook, and it was easy to measure. The minimalist in me avoids buying those little jars now — especially since I know I can make my own garlic paste from scratch anytime I need it, for way cheaper. All I need is a sharp knife, a few cloves of garlic, and some kosher salt.

How To Make Garlic Paste: Watch the Video

Why Make Garlic Paste

This preparation takes a little more time than slicing or mincing, but the added steps produce noticeable results. By mashing the clove with salt on your cutting board, you soften the garlic’s sharp bite. This gives the paste a gentler garlic flavor than slices or whole cloves, and it also means the garlic will cook faster and can be added to dishes at the last minute.

Peeling Garlic

Garlic is notoriously hard to peel, but you can easily crack the peel open by pressing the cloves between the heel of the knife and the cutting board. This technique isn’t best for sliced garlic, but for cloves being mashed anyway, it is the fastest way.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Mince, Sprinkle, Scrape

Give the cloves a quick mince before you churn them into paste — this doesn’t have to be a tidy or fine mince. Sprinkle the minced cloves with kosher salt, as kosher salt’s rough texture will help mash the minced garlic and draw moisture out of the cloves as well. Then use your knife to flatten, mash, and scrape the minced cloves into paste.

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How To Make Garlic Paste with Just Salt & a Knife

Makes1 tablespoon


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


  • Chef's knife
  • Cutting board


  1. Mince: Smash the garlic cloves under the heel of the knife. Remove the paper skin from each clove and trim the stem end. Slice the garlic and then run the knife over them twice to mince.

  2. Sprinkle with salt: Sprinkle the minced garlic with kosher salt. Use the knife to gather the minced garlic into a tidy pile.

  3. Scrape into paste: Holding the blunt side of the knife with both hands, press and scrape the sharp end of the knife against the pile of garlic at an angle to flatten the garlic. Work the garlic back into a tidy pile and repeat, pressing and scraping the knife through the pile for 2 to 3 minutes until you have a smooth paste.

Recipe Notes

Storage: This garlic paste is best used the day it is made.