There are two things most cooks learn pretty quickly about garlic: It's really tasty stuff, but peeling it is kind of a pain. That's why social media seems to find a new garlic peeling hack every week or two, and it's also why garlic peelers exist. Sure, you could shake them in a Mason jar until the peels (eventually) fall off, but it's easier when you have the right tool for the job.
The best garlic peelers all conform to a pretty similar pattern. They're almost invariably cylindrical tubes of thin silicone, about five inches wide, and they mostly look about the same. There are still some differences between them though, and before you plunk down your money, it's worth knowing what sets the good ones apart from the also-rans.
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What to Consider When Purchasing a Garlic Peeler
Garlic peeling is not the most complicated of kitchen tasks, so the tools for the job tend to be pretty simple and the process is straightforward. In most cases, you'll put your cloves into the tube, roll it—on the counter, or between your hands—just hard enough to crack the cloves' skins, but not so hard you smash the cloves.
That being said, there are still a few points you should consider before you make your purchase:
Textured or Smooth: Some peelers are smooth on the inside and outside, but others have a textured surface either on the interior (more friction to help remove the skins) or on the exterior (more friction to help with your grip). It's mostly a question of personal preference, though you may find the textured surfaces harder to keep clean.
Silicone Thickness: Though most peelers are very similar to the eye, they can vary in the thickness of the silicone used. A too-thin peeler might not hold up under extended use, but in general, a peeler with thin walls is easier to use than a thick one. You'll have a better feel for how hard you're pressing, and whether the skins are coming off the cloves.
Storage Options: Most peelers are simple tubes designed to live in a drawer, but of course, in most drawers, it's hard to find a small item that flattens under other utensils. A hole or loop for hanging is a nice little extra, and our top choice comes with its own storage case.
Capacity: Unless you're thinking about starting a catering business or food truck, you probably don't need a full-bore garlic peeler machine (though they're available). Most garlic peelers will handle up to three cloves capably if they're not too big, but a few can handle more or larger cloves. It's something to think about if you use a lot of garlic.
The Best Overall Garlic Peeler
OXO has built its reputation on doing simple things well, and its garlic peeler is no exception. Its silicone is thick enough to be durable but thin enough to give you a good feel for the garlic you're peeling, and its shape—bulged in the middle and narrowing to a flare at the ends—helps keep the cloves centered in the peeler, instead of sliding out the ends (a common irritation with other peelers). The OXO also comes with its own compact storage case for when it's not in use, which addresses a paradox of silicone: Food won't stick to it, but dust and dirt very much do. To clean it after use, a quick rinse in hot water will usually do the trick (though it's dishwasher-safe, so you have that option too).
The Best Garlic Peeler Tube
You only have to apply moderate pressure to remove garlic skins with ease using this silicone tube by Cestari. The premium-grade, nonslip silicone is relatively thin, making it comfortable and efficient to use. It's also phthalate- and BPA-free and doesn't hold onto the garlic smell. At 0.94 inches in diameter, it's big enough to handle most cloves. There are ridges inside the tube to release the garlic skins, and the ends of the cylinder are angled enough that it's easy to reach in with a finger (or a cloth) to remove them once your garlic is peeled. Overall, this is a really good design, and like the OXO, it's dishwasher-safe. It's a solid choice, especially if space constraints mean you're unlikely to use the OXO's storage case. Choose from black, green, red or white to match the color scheme of your kitchen.
The Best Garlic Peeler for Large Batches
The basic concept of this peeler is the same as most others—it's made of flexible silicone, you drop the cloves in and roll them around—but the design is notably different. The Aunmas peeler is shaped like a bulb of garlic, which is as practical as it is fanciful: It means you have room for a lot more garlic, easily twice as much as the others in this roundup. When you're done, shake out the cloves and skins onto your work surface and rinse the inside with hot water. You'll find you get the best results if your cloves are all roughly the same size. The one-opening design means this peeler isn't as easy to clean as its competitors, which is its most significant drawback.
The Best Garlic Peeler Multipack
These are what you might call the "default" garlic peeler. You'll find them for sale on Amazon under any number of brand names, and in a range of bright colors. The only thing that sets these offerings apart is the color and the number of them you'll get in your purchase. This set from Vimbo includes all five of the common colors—yellow, green, red, blue and black—at one low price, so why not go for the biggest bundle? These peelers opt for a higher-friction interior, with raised bumps that remain reasonably easy to clean. There's also a perforation at the end, so they can be hung on a hook for easy access (and to reduce the clutter in your drawers). At this price, you can afford to keep a spare and still have several to gift your cooking friends.
The Best Garlic Peeler That's Not a Unitasker
One thing about the silicone tube style of garlic peeler is that it's a single-purpose tool. If you make a point of avoiding those, a silicone mat might be a more appealing option. It works in much the same way, except you'll create your cylinder by rolling a mat around the garlic, and then rolling the garlic within the mat. It takes a little more skill and practice to get the hang of the process, but a mat works just as effectively, and because it opens right up, it's easier to clean. This set of four silicone mats (two round, two square) brings a lot of versatility. The square ones work as garlic peelers, but all four can also function as trivets, pot holders or even drying mats for your kitchen utensils. They come with a reinforced corner hole on each mat, so they can be hung on a hook for easy access.
The Best "No Garlic Peeler Required" Option
The best garlic peeling trick may be not having to peel it at all, and that's what this garlic press delivers. There are plenty of garlic presses out there, some better and some worse, but we like the stylish Zyliss (say that 10 times fast!) for practical as well as aesthetic reasons. First and foremost, it does a good job of crushing the garlic and leaving the skins behind. Second, it's very easy to clean with the supplied brush. Third—and this is important—the sleek design and rounded corners mean it will play nicely with the contents of your kitchen drawer, and not get stuck on every other utensil. Despite its relatively compact size, the Zyliss has a hopper large enough for oversized cloves and provides enough leverage to make crushing your garlic easy and comfortable.