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February/March 2018

Garlic Presses

Sure, you can mince garlic with a knife, but a good garlic press makes the job faster and easier. 

How We Tested

A garlic press is meant to be a convenient alternative to a chef’s knife, giving you minced garlic in seconds—no knife skills required. This small everyday tool is usually quite simple: The traditional design consists of a hopper or perforated basket that holds garlic cloves, a plunger that presses garlic through the perforations, and a lever mechanism or handles that force the plunger down on the cloves.

Our longtime favorite garlic press, the Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press, makes quick work of mincing, is comfortable to hold, and is easy to clean—but at $44.95, it’s expensive. With new and cheaper models on the market—including a cube‑shaped gadget and a curved model that rocks back and forth—we wondered if any could offer reliable mincing at a lower price. We selected nine products (including our former winner) ranging in price from $14.99 to $44.95 and put them to the test.

We used each press to mince peeled garlic cloves, and because some presses claim to work with unpeeled cloves, we tried those, too (both with and without their woody stems). To test how mince quality affected flavor, we made infused olive oil, and to see how the garlic fared in a cooked application, we made batches of our Pasta with Garlic and Oil. Finally, we asked users of different hand sizes and skill levels to mince peeled and unpeeled cloves with each press.

Examining Mince Size and Quality

There were minor differences in mince size, with most garlic presses giving us a paste-like consistency. Two presses produced a mince with slightly larger pieces, but one model had drastically different results than the rest: It created little columns of garlic, like a julienne. With the exception of that model, the presses we tested produced minced garlic that was acceptably sized and uniform, so there were no noticeable flavor or texture differences in our infused oils or pasta dishes. (An uneven mince can result in unevenly cooked bits of garlic and inconsistent texture in a dish.)

Ease of Use: Less Strain and a Simple Design Are Best

There were real differences among the presses when it came to ease of use, however. Two presses required our full body weight to force garlic through the perforations, straining our shoulders and wrists. And unpeeled cloves were challenging for all models. The fibrous skin was harder to get through, not to mention that the minced garlic tended to spray in different directions as it emerged from the press. Our winner and other highly rated presses made the arduous task slightly easier, though it still required some effort.

Another issue? How easy it was to load garlic into the hoppers of some models. One press had a small 1¼-inch opening between plunger and hopper, and with little room for our fingers, it was difficult to insert cloves. Another model’s arm swung wide open, so it flopped about as we loaded cloves, making the process less efficient. We preferred hinged models with handles that opened wide enough to give us plenty of garlic-loading leeway but not so much that the handles moved wildly while we inserted cloves.

Some models had additional design features that were useless—or worse, that hindered performance. One model’s “ejector,” which operates much like a portion scoop’s release mechanism, inadvertently trapped some of the garlic underneath while flinging the rest toward us. The cube-shaped model had a push-down lid that put users’ fingers at risk; it once snapped shut on a tester’s finger and drew blood. Yet another product’s handle had an attached cleaning brush that kept popping out mid-mince. In short, our favorite products were intuitive and easy to use, with simple, streamlined designs.

Cleanup: Plunger Design Is Key, and a Pull-Out Hopper Helps

Finally, cleanup was critical. Two models had multiple parts—one press had six pieces—that required disassembly prior to washing. This meant we had to keep track of the parts and put everything back together after each use, which is totally impractical for a tool that’s all about convenience. Another design flaw we noticed was plungers covered in nubs, which trapped garlic and made the plungers difficult to clean. Our top two presses both had a smooth, flat surface that pushed garlic through a perforated hopper, with no protrusions to clean afterward. Our favorite press had the added feature of a swing-out hopper that made it easy to remove clove remnants.

The Best Garlic Press

Ultimately, we can fully recommend only one garlic press. The Kuhn Rikon Epicurean Garlic Press ($44.95) again beat out the competition, giving us uniformly minced garlic with minimal effort. Its weighty, curved handles; stainless-steel construction; and pop-out hopper made for a comfortable, easy-to-clean press that was smooth to operate—even with tricky unpeeled garlic cloves. While it was the most expensive model we tried, we’ve used this garlic press in the test kitchen for years, so we can say with confidence that it is a good investment.

Methodology

We tested nine garlic presses priced from $14.99 to $44.95. We minced approximately 20 cloves per press, testing with medium-size peeled and unpeeled cloves, with and without their woody stems. Four additional testers of varying hand sizes and skill levels also evaluated the presses, and we minced an additional 25 cloves with our top-rated models. We assessed garlic flavor and texture by preparing our Garlic Basting Oil for Vegetables and our Pasta with Garlic and Oil (Aglio e Olio) with top-rated models. We tested durability by washing each press 10 times in the dishwasher and scraping garlic off the face of the press with a paring knife a minimum of 25 times. Prices listed are what we paid online. Test scores were averaged, and the garlic presses appear in order of preference.

Performance: Testers minced both peeled and unpeeled cloves, giving highest marks to models that consistently pressed the entire clove, producing an acceptably sized and uniform mince.

Ease of Use: Testers minced both peeled and unpeeled cloves, rating presses highest if they were intuitive to use, efficiently minced cloves, required minimal strength to operate, and were easy to load.

Cleanup: We cleaned clove remnants from the press and disassembled and washed all parts after mincing garlic, giving highest marks to models that were fast and easy to clean with no disassembly required.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.