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Cooking Tips

How to Peel 15 Garlic Cloves in 15 Seconds

Does this time-saving method really work? We put it to the test.
By Published Mar. 3, 2022

I hate peeling garlic cloves. I’m sure that I’m not the only one.

It’s a relatively minor kitchen task when it involves a single clove, but when a recipe calls for heaps of garlic (did someone say 40-clove chicken?), peeling alone can take far longer than you might have the patience for.

That’s why when I read that you can have smooth, skinless garlic cloves without the smash, chop, peel, peel, peel process, I jumped for joy.

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According to Stephanie Pixley, the deputy food editor for ATK's books, all you need to peel an entire head of garlic in a matter of seconds is a Mason jar and some well-developed biceps.

“My favorite trick for peeling a whopping 16 (!) cloves of garlic? Remove the outer papery skin of the garlic head, place it in a 2-cup wide-mouthed Mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake until the skins come off,” she wrote in the Five-Ingredient Dinners cookbook.

This wasn’t the first time I heard about this technique: It’s a kitchen hack that has been floating around for years. But being the skeptic that I am, I knew that I had to put it to the test.

And so, with both trepidation and hope, I pulled out a Mason jar, separated a whole head of garlic into unpeeled cloves, and shook it like a Polaroid picture.

Peering through the thick glass after several seconds of vigorous shakes, I was a little dubious. Some of the less-clingy scraps of skin had detached, but I wouldn’t have described the result as “peeled” cloves of garlic. Nevertheless, I pressed on.

Incredibly, after 15 seconds, it worked. While the effort was vigorous and required the kind of shaking that mimics the paint-mixing machine at your local hardware store, within 15 seconds of nonstop shaking, the garlic cloves had sloughed off their skins.

Here’s how to do it in three simple steps:

  1. Break a head of garlic into cloves, discarding the thick, outermost papery layer.
  2. Throw the cloves into a wide-mouthed Mason jar and affix the lid.
  3. Shake like heck for around 15 seconds.

So the next time your recipe calls for a whole heap of peeled garlic, America’s Test Kitchen can vouch for this deceptively simple method that delivers not only a whole head of peeled cloves but also your daily dose of calisthenics.

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