How to Mince Garlic

We'll walk you step by step (with pictures) through mincing garlic like a pro.

how to mince garlic
Photo: Sara Haas

It's likely impossible to find a restaurant kitchen that doesn't keep a large stash of garlic on hand. That's because chefs know that garlic is the secret to building flavorful dishes. You can prep it several ways, but mincing it is a universally-loved technique.

Mincing involves cutting the garlic into small pieces, allowing for even distribution, which ensures great garlic flavor in every bite. But mincing garlic is a bit labor-intensive, right? Is all of that chopping really worth the time? The short answer is, yes! Find out why and catch our steps below to master this skill!

Why Do Recipes Call for Minced Garlic?

The makings of a great dish often start with garlic. That's because garlic plays well with other ingredients. Yes, it imparts its own flavor, but it also enhances the flavor of other foods in the dish. It's a true team player. Mincing is often the preferred prep technique for garlic and that's by design. Those small pieces of garlic cook alongside other ingredients, permeating their flavor while boosting the overall flavor of the dish.

Can You Mince Garlic in Advance?

You've seen minced garlic at the store, right? So you may be wondering, "why don't I just buy that?" You absolutely could and that will save you time, but we can promise that the flavor isn't the same. Pre-minced jarred garlic tends to be more pungent than fresh and often has a bitter taste. And skip the food processor to do a big batch. The blades can't mince like your knife can.

Speaking of knives, we recommend using your chef's knife for mincing garlic. The large blade allows you to work on a cutting board with plenty of surface area to rock and chop until your heart's content. A small knife, such as a paring knife, will only frustrate you and will take longer to complete the task. Finally, keep in mind that garlic starts to degrade as soon as you peel it, so that means fresh will always yield the best results.

Cooking with Minced Garlic

Now that you've minced your garlic, it's time to use it! But before you throw it in your hot pan, here are a few tips. First, remember that garlic can burn easily, so make sure the level of heat under your pan isn't blazing. Second, make sure you stay by that pan for the same reason, and stir it often. Lastly, remember that minced garlic cooks quickly, usually around 1 to 2 minutes over medium heat.

How to Mince Garlic

Step 1: Place a damp paper towel on your work surface then cover with your cutting board. This creates a stable surface for working.


Step 2: Remove a clove or two from the head of garlic and place on your cutting board. Lay the large, flat side of your chef's knife on top of the clove to cover it. Then, make a fist and use that to hit the knife and smash the clove. Give it a firm "whack," but don't go full throttle or you'll end up with flying garlic or worse, an injury. Now the skin has been loosened from the clove and it should be easy to remove. Discard those skins.

garlic on cutting board
Sara Haas

Step 3: Place your clove(s) on your cutting board and grab your chef's knife. Hold the clove with a claw-like grasp with your non-dominant hand then run your knife through the garlic, cutting it into thin slices. Push slices into a pile, then place one hand on top of the knife, palm down, with your fingers out (to keep them out of the way).

Now run your knife through the garlic with a rocking motion, us ing that hand on top to help you keep your motion efficient and your knife on the board (this also helps keep the front end of the blade on the board). Repeat this motion, moving your knife around as needed.


Step 4: Carefully wipe down the blades of your knife and gather up your garlic into a pile in the center of your cutting and repeat the process above until your garlic is minced to the desired size.

Step 5: Use your minced garlic in your favorite recipe.

Final Tips

  1. Use the right knife! The chef's knife is the best tool for the job. Use that one and make sure it's sharp. Remember a dull knife is an unsafe knife.
  2. Mince your garlic right before you need it. You'll be tempted to chop it up days in advance, but that's not going to help with flavor. Instead, wait until you're about to use it to mince it.
  3. Don't stress. Mincing implies cutting your food into uniform pieces that are about 1/8" or 1/16" inch in diameter. But don't bust out your ruler! Instead, just rock that knife until you get little "bits and pieces" of finely chopped garlic. As long as everything is small and about the same size, you're good to go!


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