How Jacques Pépin Peels Garlic Without Any Tools

Our relationship with garlic is complicated. We're madly in love with it — the pungent flavor of garlic is indispensable in so many recipes. Conversely, we hate peeling it — a task that seems so simple ends up being a messy, time-consuming chore. Leave it to a master chef to show us the error of our ways. It turns out that peeling garlic doesn't have to be a bummer and can easily be done without any fancy tools. 


Peeling Crushing and Chopping Garlic #jacquespepin #chef #recipe #videoviral #cooking #fyp

♬ original sound – Jacques Pepin Official

Jacques Pépin posted a TikTok demonstrating how he peels garlic using only his hands, with just a little help from his knife. Of course, Pépin's hands are highly trained and have likely practiced this longer than some of us have been alive, but he makes it look so easy that anyone can pull it off.

Beginning with a whole garlic bulb, the first step is to remove the outermost layer of skin (Pépin calls these "big leaves"). Here, we'd usually start prying at the individual cloves with our fingers, trying to pick them apart. Pépin's technique is far more efficient — he just rubs the bulb between his hands, using his thumb to apply pressure, which effortlessly releases the thin skin. Next, he sets the bulb down on a cutting board and holds it in place. Then with his other hand, he smacks the bulb on its side with his palm. With just this one move, the entire bulb separates, and each bulb is free to do with as you please.

The easiest way to remove garlic peels

At this point, we might resort to using specialized tools to peel the cloves, or hack away at them with our fingers until they're sticky and sore. Once peeled, we'd then need to cut off the hard stem edge before we get to chopping or mincing. But you can just forget all that unpleasantness, because in one fell swoop Jacques Pépin combines the de-stemming with the peeling, resulting in peeled and prepped bulbs, ready to use.  

The trick is to remove the stem before you remove the peel. For this brilliant maneuver, Pépin takes a clove and snips off the rough tip with a small knife. Then he lays it down, round side up, lays the flat side of his chef's knife on top, and crushes it down on the clove. When he picks up the clove, the garlic slips right out, releasing easily from its peel.

Once you try this martial art level of kitchen hackery, you'll never want to go back to whatever way of garlic peeling you were using before. Pépin has raised the bar with this one by turning a food prep step we loathed into something phenomenally uncomplicated.

From no tools to zero waste

Jacques Pépin's approach is great for dealing with one bulb, but what if you need to peel a whole lot of garlic? To speed things up, you can use Ina Garten's quick garlic peel method. Her system is to blanche the cloves in boiling water for no more than 30 seconds, then immediately move them into cold water, which prevents the cooking process from starting. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, just pop the cloves out of their peels, which by now will have loosened up thanks to the hot-then-cold water baths.

For a zero-waste way to get rid of your peels, don't throw them out — transform them into a delicious seasoning that can add extra flavor to your dishes. For turning garlic peels into spice, you just need to wash and dry them, then give them a quick roast in the oven until crisp. Simply grind these up into a powder and use them to boost the garlicky essence of any meal. You can do this with onion skins too, which go well together with the garlic for a tasty aromatic blend.