How To: Mince Garlic Without Dirtying a Cutting Board

Mince Garlic Without Dirtying a Cutting Board

Some nights, I'm a lazy cook and only want to chop one clove of garlic for my immediate needs instead of prepping a giant batch and freezing it the way I normally do. The only problem is if I'm already feeling that lazy, I really don't feel like dirtying a whole cutting board. However, I still want my garlic to be finely minced so it suffuses my dish with its wonderful, one-of-a-kind flavor.

Tasty, but a pain to prep: that's garlic in a nutshell.

Well, thank you, laziness: because of you, I developed a half-assed but pretty effective technique for getting my garlic cut up into teensy-eensy pieces. With this method, only your knife and fingers end up getting dirty. The cutting technique itself is pretty similar to the way chefs mince onions.

This method does require a little practice. However, it's pretty easy to get the hang of and will save you dishwashing time in the end.

Step 1: Make Vertical Cuts in Your Garlic Clove

Grasp a peeled clove in your non-dominant hand. The really fat, bulbous kinds work best in this situation, but the skinnier ones are fine, too.

Have the knife in your dominant hand and hold both hands over where you want the garlic to land: bowl, skillet, etc. Now make vertical incisions, as evenly spaced as possible, all the way across the garlic clove.

Make the cuts deep—I'd say go about halfway down the length of the clove. Be careful not to nick your fingers (although you can always use food to treat many minor cooking injuries). In fact, I like to use a duller knife for this task just for safety's sake.

Step 2: Make Horizontal Cuts

Now you'll want to make multiple horizontal cuts across your garlic clove. Basically, you want to create a grid. Try to get to the same depth that you made during the horizontal cuts.

After you're finished, you should see a grid pattern.

Step 3: Cut Across to Mince the Garlic

Now take your knife and cut a thin slice across the top layer of the garlic to create many fine, small dice.

Repeat this cutting across action until there are no more dice to be had. Shake or wipe the diced garlic off your sticky knife into your pan.

Step 4: Repeat Once More

At this point, you've got about half of a garlic clove left. Go ahead and repeat the process, but watch your fingers!

After the second round is complete, you've probably got a wee segment of garlic clove in your hand.

Chances are you think it's too insubstantial to give it a third go-round...

Step 5: Rotate & Do It Again

Hah! Fooled you. All you have to do is rotate what's left of the clove so you are holding it by a skinny end, like so:

Now repeat the vertical, horizontal, and slicing across until basically all you have left is a little nub of garlic. Then just slice up that little nub straight into the pan. It won't be as even or as fine as the rest of your mincing, but it'll get the job done.

More Fun Garlic Hacks

Learn how to use the microwave to get garlic skins to slide off easily. Shaking a whole garlic bulb inside a container works, too. You can even make garlic-infused oil or vinegar.

Just updated your iPhone? You'll find new features for Podcasts, News, Books, and TV, as well as important security improvements and fresh wallpapers. Find out what's new and changed on your iPhone with the iOS 17.5 update.

Photos by Marion Dunham/Food Hacks


So that's all pretty skillful, but fiddly. Why not use a garlic press?

Good question! In my experience, a lot of garlic gets stuck in those eensy holes and therefore gets wasted and makes the press a pain to clean. Once you get the hang of this method, it's less fiddly (good word, BTW) than it seems. I might post a video so you can see it in action. It literally takes seconds.

Share Your Thoughts

  • Hot
  • Latest