How To Use A Garlic Press- Step By Step Guide 

 Last Update April 19, 2024

By Jenny Zhang

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Chopping garlic can add a considerable amount of time to a recipe! It's difficult to get the garlic cloves cut into small enough pieces that have a consistent size, and then you're dealing with garlic smell on your hands and cutting board. Instead, save time and effort in your cooking by using a garlic press to chop your garlic!

Garlic presses are available at many stores and are much easier to use than their appearance suggests. In this post, we will share how to use a garlic press!

What Is A Garlic Press?

A garlic press is an odd-looking kitchen tool resembling a cross between a nutcracker and a grater. Not to be confused with a garlic rocker, it consists of two handles. One of the handles is designed with a pressing grid covered in blunt pins, while the other has a cup riddled with small holes. The simple concept is that a garlic clove placed in the cup will be pressed through the holes when the handles are closed and pushed together, thereby "mincing" the garlic.

While various garlic presses are available for purchase, a good garlic press can be acquired very cheaply. Some brands offer designs with ergonomic handles. Some don't require the garlic cloves to be peeled before use. Some are made entirely of iron or steel if you want to avoid plastic or want a kitchen tool that can withstand hot dishwasher temperatures. Take a look at your local kitchenware store and see what's available!

How To Use A Garlic Press

Using a garlic press to crush garlic cloves is a straightforward process.

  1. Prepping Garlic—Separate each garlic clove that you need to press from the rest of the garlic bulb. Peel garlic using either a specialized garlic peeler or a knife and your hands. Depending on your garlic press, you may not even need to peel the garlic skin before pressing!
  2. Place Garlic Into Press—Place all the peeled garlic cloves directly into the garlic press chamber. Most garlic presses can handle more than one entire clove at a time. Some home cooks prefer adding a small drop of olive oil to the cup before adding the garlic cloves.
  3. Press Garlic—Place a bowl under the small holes of your garlic press. Press the two handles together so the garlic clove is forced through the small holes in the cup. You'll need to press firmly! Use a butter knife or spoon to scrape off crushed garlic pieces clinging to the press's outside.
  4. Empty Press—If you need to press additional garlic cloves, use a butter knife or spoon to remove the garlic skins from the inside of the cup before adding a second garlic clove.
  5. Cleaning Garlic Press—A quality garlic press made from stainless steel is dishwasher-safe and easily cleaned. Garlic presses can also be hand washed in hot, soapy water. Use a cleaning brush or toothpick to be sure that all of the minced garlic residue is removed from the holes of the cup. A garlic press with larger holes can be more easily cleaned with a sponge or dishcloth.

Alternative Uses For A Garlic Press

Mincing Ginger

Like garlic, ginger can be difficult to mince finely due to its fibrous texture. A garlic press offers a convenient solution for this challenge. Simply peel a piece of ginger and press it through the garlic press to obtain finely minced ginger, perfect for adding a fresh, zesty flavor to stir-fries, marinades, or teas. This method saves time and effort, especially when you need a small amount of ginger.

Extracting Citrus Zest

While a garlic press won't replace a zester for obtaining long strands of zest, it can be useful for extracting small amounts of citrus zest when you're in a pinch. Place a small piece of citrus peel inside the press and squeeze. The fine holes of the press will help to grate the zest, which can be used to add a burst of citrus flavor to baked goods, dressings, or marinades.

Chopping Olives

Chopping olives, especially small ones, can be tedious. A garlic press can come in handy for quickly mincing olives for use in tapenades, salads, or pizza toppings. Simply pit the olives (if necessary) and press them through the garlic press. This method yields finely chopped olives in a fraction of the time it would take to chop them by hand.

Crushing Nuts

A garlic press can break down nuts into smaller pieces for recipes that call for crushed nuts. This is particularly useful when you need a small quantity of crushed nuts for garnishing or adding to cookies, salads, or yogurt. Almonds, pecans, and walnuts can be pressed through, but be mindful of the press's capacity and the hardness of the nuts to avoid damaging the tool.

Making Cherry Tomato Salsa

A garlic press can also be used to crush cherry tomatoes for a quick and fresh salsa or sauce. Pressing the tomatoes through the press not only minces them but also helps to release their juices, creating a flavorful base for your salsa with minimal effort.

Softening Dried Fruits

For baking or cooking purposes, softened dried fruits like raisins or apricots can be achieved by pressing them through a garlic press. This method can help to break down the fruits, making them easier to incorporate into doughs or mixtures.

How To Clean And Maintain Garlic Press

Immediate Rinsing

After using your garlic press, it's beneficial to rinse it immediately under warm water. This step helps to remove any garlic bits and residue that can stick to the press, making it easier to clean thoroughly later. If you can't wash it immediately, soaking the press in warm, soapy water can help prevent residue from drying and hardening.

Use A Non-Abrasive Brush

For a more thorough cleaning, use a non-abrasive brush, such as a toothbrush or a small kitchen brush, to scrub away any remaining garlic particles from the holes and moving parts of the press. This ensures that you reach all the nooks and crannies without scratching or damaging the surface of the press.

Dishwasher-Safe Consideration

Many garlic presses are dishwasher-safe, which significantly simplifies the cleaning process. However, checking the manufacturer's instructions is important to confirm whether your garlic press is suitable for dishwasher cleaning. Placing a dishwasher-safe garlic press on the top rack can ensure it gets cleaned effectively without exposure to the harshest heating elements.

Drying Thoroughly

After washing, make sure to dry your garlic press thoroughly, either by air drying or using a clean towel. This step is crucial to prevent any moisture from causing rust or corrosion, especially if the press is made of metal.

Regular Maintenance

Periodically check the moving parts of your garlic press, such as the hinge or plunger, to ensure they function smoothly. Applying a small amount of food-safe oil can help keep these parts moving freely and prevent rusting.

Pros And Cons Of Using A Garlic Press

There are multiple methods of mincing and crushing garlic cloves, and using a garlic press is only one of them. Let's look into why you might choose to use a garlic press and in what situations using a garlic press may not be the ideal choice.


It's Simple And Quick: Using a garlic press is as simple as peeling garlic and squeezing handles. And with some of the best garlic presses, peeling garlic is optional! Using a chef's knife to mince garlic into tiny pieces is a time-intensive task, particularly if you must mince multiple cloves. A decent amount of time can be saved by using garlic presses.

It's Safe For Kids: If you want to get children involved with the dinnertime prep, using a garlic press to create minced garlic gives them a new task they can take on. No knives are involved; garlic presses consistently turn fresh garlic into small pieces with minimal effort.

It's More Flavorful Than Jarred Garlic: When given the option between using a garlic press or buying pre-minced garlic in a jar, absolutely use a garlic press. Fresh garlic has an entirely different flavor than pre-minced garlic, and when using a garlic press is so simple, there's no reason not to!


It Doesn't Mince The Garlic: Technically, a garlic press produces crushed garlic, not minced garlic. It behaves somewhat like finely grated garlic. This does create a slightly different result in terms of flavor and texture when compared to chopping garlic with a knife. Pressed garlic will have a less intense flavor than true minced garlic.

There Is Food Waste: When using a garlic press or garlic crusher, some remnants of the garlic clove will be left behind in the cup. Compared to how the whole clove is used in mincing garlic with a chef's knife, it's a considerable amount of food waste. Typically, two garlic cloves are needed to produce one clove's worth of standard minced garlic.

It's Another Tool To Store: If your kitchen is short on drawer space, a garlic crusher may not be worth the space! A knife and cutting board can be used for multiple purposes, whereas a garlic press (while a good tool!) has a more narrow range of applications.

Jenny passionately advocates a holistic and natural approach to health and well-being. She has a Bachelor of Science degree and years of working in food sciences, specializing in organic & natural products. She is committed to helping others embrace a balanced, natural lifestyle that fosters well-being. Jenny believes that a harmonious balance between nutrition, fitness, and mindfulness is the key to unlocking the full potential of one’s well-being.