Today I want to talk to you for a bit about garlic presses. For the longest time I’ve been using my mom’s old garlic press that somehow made it into my kitchen when I moved into my first apartment. I don’t know how it got there. I didn’t take it, I swear.
The thing about my mom’s old garlic press is, well, that it sucks. It’s a cheap flimsy press with a deep narrow hopper that’s nearly impossible to clean. It’s easy enough to use, but I learned quickly that if I didn’t want dried bits of garlic stuck in the holes then I’d have to soak the press immediately after use. Most of the time I would end up deciding that the pain of cleaning it outweighed the convenience of using it in the first place, and I’d reach for a chefs knife instead. As I’ve mentioned before, I manage a kitchenware store, and after a year or so at Whisk I finally realized that I had no excuse not to have a decent garlic press in my life. Of course, then the pressure of choosing the right one was too much for me and I stalled again. We carry so many that I just couldn’t decide which was the one for me.
With Whisk’s help I took home a sample of each style, used them all a few times, and kept notes so I could share my new knowledge with you! I think Whisk has done a really great job of choosing a nice well-edited selection, so to be honest, I didn’t really dislike any of them, but there were some that I did like more than others. To me, the three main things to take into consideration with a garlic press are efficiency, ease of use, and ease of cleaning. Below I’ll give you my honest opinion of each tool I tested, along with a link to each one in case you’re looking for one yourself!
First though, I have a special treat for you! My amazing and talented friends Karen and Mari of Crown Street Productions joined me in my research and made this handy video guide to some of the presses I tested! Not every tool below is in the video, but we thought that seeing some of them in action might give you a better idea of the different features and how they work. Check it out, and please excuse my serious expression. I’m not used to being in front of the camera and I was a bit nervous. Also, I take garlic presses very seriously! haha! I hope you like it!
Okay, back to the testing.
I wanted to see how these tools would stand up to both peeled and unpeeled cloves, so to get started I tried out the Zak! garlic peeler, available for $9 here.
It’s just a simple silicone tube, but the garlic’s papery peel wants to stick to it. All you do is insert a clove or two into the tube and roll it back and forth on your countertop, then out comes the naked clove! I was skeptical at first, but was really impressed with how well it worked. It really couldn’t be more simple to use, and if you find yourself peeling a lot of garlic, I’d highly recommend it. The one thing I noticed is that the peels of garlic that’s been sitting around for a few days (or weeks) comes off much easier than garlic that just came home from the grocery store.
The first press I tested is made by the Harold Import Company and is available for $8 here.
This press is as simple as they come. It can handle both peeled and unpeeled cloves with no trouble at all. It’s made of sturdy food grade aluminum and has a deep hopper with holes at the bottom, and a piston that pushes the garlic through it. One issue I noticed is that the piston doesn’t reach all the way to the bottom of the hopper, so if you’re only doing one or two cloves you lose a bit of your garlic.
Since it’s aluminum it is definitely not dishwasher safe so it must be washed by hand. It’s hard to reach the inside of the hopper to clean it, but it comes with a handy little cleaning tool that helps push any leftover garlic back through for removal. Even with the cleaning tool though, you’ll still need to fish the remaining garlic out of the hopper with a butter knife, and if you ever misplace or lose this piece it would be really difficult to clean.
For the price, I think this press is a great option, but it’s definitely not what I would consider a “forever” tool.
Next I tried out an Oxo garlic press, available here for $17.
This press is probably one of the better selling presses in the store. It features soft non-slip curved handles that feel really comfortable in your hands. It’s simple enough to use, but I felt that bit more force was needed than some of the other models I tested. It can handle unpeeled cloves, but that requires even more force. One really nice feature is that the large hopper fits really large cloves, or even multiple small cloves at once, which some of the other presses couldn’t handle. Unfortunately, this press also doesn’t quite reach the bottom of the hopper and leaves some garlic behind.
It is dishwasher safe, and the cleaning tool that pushes garlic back through the holes is attached to the back of the handle, so there’s no way you’ll lose it. Even with this tool, you’ll still need to use something like a butter knife to get out the remaining garlic.
Next up was a press by Zyliss for $18, available here.
This press could easily handle peeled or unpeeled cloves with little force. Again though, If only doing one or two cloves, this press didn’t really push as much garlic through the hopper as I would have liked. It’s both lightweight and sturdy, and the curved handles feel comfortable in your hand. It also comes with a cleaning tool that attaches to the handle but removes for cleaning. It has long spikes to really help push the garlic back through the holes so the remaining garlic comes out really easily. On the other side of the cleaning tool there are three spikes to help get at any stubborn pieces that might want to stick around. The packaging says that it is dishwasher safe but “handwashing is recommended”. I don’t have a dishwasher to test it, but I’m guessing that it probably wouldn’t stand up to repeated and frequent travels through the dishwasher.
Next I tried out the Harold Import garlic press & slicer, available here for $20.
This press actually ended up being one of my favorites. It can handle both peeled and unpeeled cloves, but I noticed a little extra force was needed with unpeeled cloves which, every once in a while, caused the garlic to shoot out of the press. It was better at getting more garlic through the press than some of the others, but it still left a little bit behind. One of the reasons I like this press so much is that beyond being a press, it also doubles as a garlic slicer, giving you nice thin evenly sliced garlic. To use the slicer function the clove needs to be peeled, but it leaves no garlic behind at all.
Another really great feature is that this tool has a press that actually swivels out of the hopper to make it more accessible for easy cleaning. This feature is more common in pricier garlic presses, so it’s nice to see it in this price range. It also comes with a handy cleaning tool that attaches to the inside of the arm, and slides out when needed. The slicer side can be a little trickier to clean but was easy enough with the help of the cleaning tool.
I really liked how versatile and easy to use and clean this press is, and would definitely consider it my favorite budget choice.
After that, I tried out a press by Kuhn Ricon, which can be found here for $25.
I thought this press was nice and efficient and really got a lot of crushed garlic out of each clove, but I found that it didn’t work all that well with unpeeled garlic. It has a handy plastic blade that slides across the press to help remove the crushed garlic, and was the only press I tested that had this feature. The major bonus here is that the press mechanism is almost identical to presses almost twice the price, but the one negative, in my opinion, is that the lightweight plastic construction feels a bit flimsy.
This press is dishwasher safe, and the press also swivels for easy access during cleaning.
Next up was the Kuhn Ricon Epicurean press, available here for $40.
This is one of the more high end presses we carry at Whisk. The price may seem a bit rich for some, but after using it you’ll know that you get what you pay for. It’s really very easy to use and very little force is needed to squeeze your garlic through. It makes easy work of both peeled and unpeeled cloves, and it’s very efficient at getting almost all of the garlic through, leaving very little behind. It’s sturdy and strong, made completely of stainless steel. and features curved handles that fit the shape of a hand. The press mechanism also swivels out for super easy cleaning, and the remaining garlic loosened up and came out on its own when rinsed under hot water.
At this price i feel like I’m allowed to be just a bit nit-picky, so my one (tiny) complaint is that it’s a bit heavy and may feel a bit awkward in small hands. Overall though, this press is super sturdy, efficient, easy to use, easy to clean, and is a really solid choice.
The last traditional press I tested is made by Rosle, and goes for $45 hereMuch like the Kuhn Ricon Epicurean model, this press is very easy to use, and can handle peeled or unpeeled cloves with very little force at all. For extra leverage, there’s a small dimple feature that clicks into place when fully depressed, which makes sure the maximum amount of garlic is pressed out with as little effort as possible. Made of 18/10 stainless steel, this press is super sturdy and strong but feels lighter and less bulky than the Epicurean press. It doesn’t have the ergonomic curved handle design but it will fit into any hand easily. It’s also very easy to clean with a swiveling press mechanism that rinses off with little effort. The best thing about this press is that Rosle is so sure of the quality of their products that they come with a lifetime warranty. The stainless steel construction means it should never break, but if it does, they’ll replace it for you. If the smart and attractive design and maximum ease and efficiency isn’t enough for you, the warrantee definitely should sweeten the deal. This is the last garlic press you’ll ever need to buy, and after I finished my research, this was the press I purchased for myself.
With the presses out of the way, I moved on to some more garlic related tools.
Next I sampled the Chef’n garlic slicer, for $12 here
This tool works sort of like a pepper mill. You put your peeled garlic inside, close the spring loaded press over it, and twist. It can be a little bit confusing to get it working, as the interlocking top and spring loaded mechanism inside aren’t exactly intuitive. It also really only works well with thin, small cloves. Once you get it going though, it works with little force by twisting the top clockwise. The garlic is pushed across the blades and comes out paper thin. This slicer gets your cloves much thinner than the Harold Import press and slicer, but of course, it doesn’t double as a press. It’s really easy to clean, but you have to be careful of the sharp blades. It might not be completely necessary for all kitchens, but if you’re serious about super thin sliced garlic, and don’t mind working only with small cloves, it’s a pretty handy tool to have.
The last tool I tested is called a garlic rocker, by Joseph Josesph, for $15 hereThis tool produces a similar result to a traditional garlic press, but instead of pressing the garlic through the press with a piston, you rock the blades over a peeled clove while pushing down on the tool’s wide handles. Once the garlic comes through the holes you simply scrape it out with a spoon. The benefits to this tool are that it’s small and stores easily, and you’re able to get almost the whole clove through with little waste. It’s also very easy to clean since there’s no hopper to worry about. I will say though, that some force is needed to push down on the garlic, and can be a bit awkward to use. I wouldn’t recommend this tool for anyone with weak arms or arthritis. I would also say you wouldn’t want to use this on delicate counter surfaces.
So there you have it folks!
If you’re in the market for a garlic press, or you’re looking to upgrade, I hope you find all this information useful. I think I’ve reviewed a nice selection of different presses in different price ranges, and I hope I’ve made it easier for you to make an informed decision. I think that among these choices there is a tool for anyone with any budget. Of course, I’m only one man, and these thoughts and opinions are mine alone, so some people may feel differently about some of these options. I’ve tried to be as unbiased and honest as possible, and I would like to mention that none of the companies that make these tools have paid me for anything I’ve said here.