It's a more subtle way to cook with garlic than slicing, chopping, or mincing.
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how to crush garlic
Credit: Mike Krautter

Often recipes call for one or two cloves of garlic, crushed. Not sliced or minced, but crushed. Crushed garlic is also sometimes referred to as smashed garlic, which is basically peeled cloves that have been…crushed. Don't confuse crushed garlic with using a tool called a garlic press, that's a very different process. While a crushed clove of garlic is still a garlic clove, a clove that has been pressed is more like garlic paste.

Crushed garlic is often used in slow cooking dishes, like braises or in marinades, where it imparts a subtle garlic flavor, and sometimes it's removed before serving. So what's the best way to crush garlic? Our former deputy food editor, Greg Lofts, shows us how. You'll be glad to hear it's really very simple. 

First, Why Crush Garlic?

Garlic is made up of tiny cells, each one filled with a pungent, sulfur-based liquid. Compared to slicing, chopping, or mincing garlic, crushing garlic is gentler. It breaks some of those cells, releasing this garlic juice but not all of them. The garlic remains in large pieces.

How to Crush Garlic

What You Need: a heavy knife  such as a chef's knife, a chopping board, and unpeeled garlic cloves. We suggest you put a damp kitchen towel under your board to prevent it from slipping, not just for crushing garlic but for any kitchen tasks.

  1. Working with one clove at a time, place the clove on your chopping board. Take your knife and place the blade flat on the clove so the sharp side of the knife is facing away from you. 
  2. Use the heel of your hand to press the blade down on the clove. You can smash your hand down onto the side of the blade if you are into theatrics but a solid press should be enough to crush the clove.

Time-saver: You don't even need to peel the clove before crushing as the skin loosens when you crush the clove.

You can also crush a clove using your palm, though that is more difficult (and might hurt a little more). We recommend using the weight of the chef's knife.

Now that you've mastered crushed garlic, here's how to mince garlic:

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