What is a Garlic Press?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A garlic press is a kitchen tool which is specifically designed for the purpose of pulping garlic for cooking. As is the case with many unitasking kitchen tools, the garlic press is a subject of heated debate among cooks. Some argue that the press produces garlic extract with a superior flavor, while others view the device as rather suspect, and they avoid it, if possible. For cooks who do enjoy using a garlic press, many kitchen supply stores sell the devices, and they can also be ordered through kitchen supply companies.

Head of garlic.
Head of garlic.

There are two basic parts of the utensil. The parts are typically connected by a hinge. The first is an extruder basket, a small sturdy bowl into which garlic can be placed. The bottom of the bowl is made from a finely pierced piece of metal or extruder plate, so that when the garlic is pushed, it is forced through the holes in the metal. Typically, the bowl, extruder plate, and handle are molded as a single piece. The second piece of the garlic press consists of a press which fits into the bowl, attached to a long handle.

To use the press, the cook loads garlic cloves into the extruder basket and then pushes the press into the basket. The long handle provides leverage, allowing the cook to force the garlic through into a waiting container. Typically, the outside of the garlic press will need to be lightly shaved with a sharp knife to get all of the strings of garlic out of it. The resulting pressed garlic is very fine in texture, with a rich garlic aroma that comes from a multitude of burst cell walls.

Some cooks find it easier to leave the peels on their garlic when they press it. This certainly makes it easier to clean, although the peels may need to be removed periodically to clear up clogs in the press, allowing all of the garlic to get through. Most garlic presses also have small teeth in the press portion which match the holes in the extruder plate, further forcing the garlic through.

Cooks who like garlic presses argue the tool yields perfectly minced garlic without having to fuss with a knife. Furthermore, the press releases more garlic flavor, because the garlic is crushed to release its heady perfume. Critics generally rail against the garlic press because of its essentially single-task nature, rather than providing any concrete objections to the tool.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


@babylove - I've had good luck with the AMCO garlic press and slicer. I love how it gives you the option to either chop or slice your garlic with ease from two separate chambers.

I use fresh garlic as often as I can in my recipes but I'm not that talented with a chefs knife, so this little gadget has been a lifesaver for me. It chops, slices and even cleans up like a dream. I recommend it to anyone who's in the market for a good garlic press.


@babylove - I've been through several garlic presses myself and was just about to give up on them altogether when my mother-in-law told me about the one she bought.

It's a stainless steel garlic press by Kuhn Rikon.

I've had mine now for about three months and it has been by far the best garlic press I've ever owned. It's a little pricey but if you chop garlic as often as I do then you'll find that it's worth every penny.


Does anyone have any recommendations for a good garlic press? The one I have doesn't work very well. The garlic gets stuck in the tiny holes and I have to spend so much time poking it through with a toothpick.

I usually end up pulling out the ole chef knife and chopping my garlic the old fashioned way. All of your suggestions will be appreciated. Thank you.

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