Food52 Approved

You Asked, We Tested: Here Are Our 5 Favorite Garlic Presses

We're kicking off Food52 Approved, our newest product-testing column, with a community-requested pick: the humble garlic press.

April 18, 2023
Photo by Food52

This article is part of a product-testing series called Food52 Approved, a column where we thoroughly try, test, and review the kitchen and home products you've always wondered about. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

Have you ever been cooking with a loved one, reached for your garlic press, and noticed them subtly roll their eyes? Or seen the snark-filled comment section of a cooking video—branding presses as unitaskers, wasters of drawer space, ruiners of garlic?

After decades of acceptance and praise from home-cooking champions like Madhur Jaffrey and Julia Child, the shame around garlic presses started to mount around the turn of the 21st century, thanks to hot takes from Elizabeth David (“utterly useless”), Anthony Bourdain (“abominations”), and Alton Brown (“there is absolutely no reason for a garlic press to exist”).

But, if you take the time to talk to home cooks, you’ll find that garlic presses aren’t going anywhere. We asked the Food52 community on Instagram which life improvers they most wanted us to review: It was garlic presses by a landslide.

When we asked them to tell us more, 60 percent of our audience said they love the divisive garlic press, and shared their greatest frustrations (“cleaning!”) and tips on their favorite brands.

So, what better way to kick off our new product-testing column, Food52 Approved, than by putting the hard-working, much-maligned garlic press to the test? Keep reading for what differentiates a press from a Microplane, our testing process, tips on how to clean your press of choice, and our five favorites (we do our best to boot the shame, too).

A Microplane is Not a Garlic Press

Let’s address a common complaint about garlic presses: A sharp knife and cutting board or a Microplane can (allegedly) do the same job. This is subjective and some people will like mincing by hand better, while others will prefer the Microplane or the press, they do not produce the same thing.

Allicin, the compound that gives garlic its pungency, is created when the cell walls are crushed. So the more obliterated the garlic cells are, the stronger the fire will be—though it typically mellows with cooking. Mincing with a knife will have the most subtle flavor, followed by a garlic press, then a Microplane, which is designed to shred and makes an extremely pungent substance that doesn’t entirely dissipate with cooking.

Now, the next time someone tells you it’s all the same, you’re set to explain how and why it’s not.

How We Tested

We tried out 15 brands, including our community’s favorites, squishing endless unpeeled cloves, both one at a time and stuffing as many as we could into the press.

We looked out for clever, practical designs and the main gripes with garlic presses: space for too few cloves, difficulty pressing, wasted garlic, and—loudest of all—cleaning. For cleaning, we dishwasher-ed and hand-washed; to test flavor and texture, we tasted the results both raw and warmed up as a garlicky oil with pasta.

We are not a scientific lab, but we are a community of home cooks plus one obsessive researcher and food writer (me). As someone who grew up with a garlic press but hasn’t owned one as an adult, I’ve wanted to investigate and clear their name for a while—now’s the time.

But first a fun fact: The modern garlic press was invented by Karl Zysset, who owned a bicycle repair shop in Lyss, Switzerland, in 1948—have you ever noticed the similarity in a bike’s hand brakes and the design of a standard garlic press? With the success of the press, he left bicycle repair and founded the company Zyliss, which still makes this descendant of his original Susi garlic press design. Growing up, my family had the older sibling of the Susi 3 (the Susi 2). Julia Child, who thought garlic presses were a “wonderful invention,” was a fan of the original design—it’s even part of her collection in the Smithsonian.

Now, onto the rankings.

The Winners

Photo by Walmart

The Classic (& Julia Child’s Go-To): Zyliss Susi 3

Mince: Fine, pulpy.

Pros: It’s very lightweight, comes with a handy cleaning pick that clips into the press rather than floating loose in a drawer, and was a favorite in our Community poll.

Cons: It’s dishwasher safe, but hand-washing is recommended since the aluminum will eventually darken in the dishwasher. The little cleaning pick has a habit of falling out and could get lost (a fork or table knife could do the job if so), and, like so many presses, it requires a knife to scrape off the minced bits.

Photo by IKEA

Community Pick: IKEA’s 365+ VÄRDEFULL

Mince: Fine.

Pros: This press from IKEA was one of the major front runners in our Community poll, it’s amazingly sturdy for the low cost ($7.99 at the time of writing), it swings totally open for easy cleaning, and has a very generously sized hopper for larger garlic cloves.

Cons: The press’s smaller holes means it takes a little more pressure to get the garlic through, it’s a little harder to rinse out, and could lead to more waste. Additionally, like others, it requires a knife.

Photo by Rocky Luten

Least Fiddly to Clean: Dreamfarm’s Garject

Mince: Very fine but not pulpy.

Pros: This is the only model we tested that scrapes itself clean without a knife (!) and has a neat eject button to get the peel out, making it a true all-in-one tool. It also has a very generously sized hopper.

Cons: At 14 ounces, this press is the heaviest we tested (Dreamfarm also makes a lighter plastic version, if that’s a concern) and even the built-in scraper doesn’t get it 100 percent of the way to the pan or bowl, so you might need to nudge it off the scraper with a finger.

Photo by Amazon

Easiest to Squeeze: Männkitchen’s Double Lever Assisted Stainless Steel Garlic Press

Mince: Medium fine, with some juice.

Pros: This one required the least pressure of any hand-squeezed press, even with multiple cloves. (My wrists got pretty tired through all this testing, so it was extra appreciated!) Also, the curved shape sits nicely in your hand.

Cons: Like most, this press requires a knife to scrape and the lack of side walls on the basket is handy for cleaning, but it might let more debris sneak out the sides.

Note: The Kuhn Rikon is nearly identical, but has smaller holes—if you prefer a finer, spicier mince and like easy squeezability, that could be a good model for you.

Photo by Crate & Barrel

Handy for Limited Mobility: Joseph Joseph Garlic Rocker

Mince: Quite chunky.

Pros: There’s no need to squeeze, just rock with your hands, then scoop it off with a spoon. It’s also easy to mince multiple cloves in a row, you can rub your hands against the stainless steel under running water to remove some of the garlic smell, and it’s another Community fave.

Cons: You have to peel the garlic cloves first (though using a silicone garlic peeler makes this a breeze) and it still requires some wrist pressure. It produces a very chunky mince, but you can spoon it out and run it through the rocker one more time easily. It also dirties a cutting board and loses some garlic in the pressing process.

Another helpful option for limited mobility: My mother-in-law has used a Black+Decker electric mini chopper for decades (here’s the modern version) and it makes a surprisingly perfect mince with only a few cloves. There are also hand-pumped choppers, but I haven’t tested them myself—please let us know if there’s a brand you love!

A Note About Easier Cleaning

In my testing, there was always a little mess with a press (but also with the other methods—garlic is sticky! But worth it). The best way to make sure cleaning goes smoothly with any of these tools is to rinse them shortly after using them under running water. Use your fingers or a brush to loosen any stuck bits—dried garlic will glue itself to the surface and probably won’t come out in the dishwasher.

Now that you’ve gotten the full breakdown in The Great Garlic Press Debate, hopefully you feel fully equipped (and empowered!) to choose the best tool for you and use it proudly.

Do you have a go-to garlic press? Let us know below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • amazinc
  • MacGuffin
  • Candygirl
  • Smaug
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


amazinc April 29, 2023
Agree with everyone that the Oxo is the garlic press for me. Easy to use; easy to clean; provides a good "smush" for the garlic; holds several cloves at a time. No cons on this tool from me. Bob's your uncle, indeed!
Smaug April 29, 2023
The handle design is a bit odd, though. The very solid piece is covered with a metal sleeve that slides on/off, and it fills up with water when you wash it. Doesn't really bother me, I'm big on leaving dishes to finish air drying before I put them away and I just loosen it, pour out the water and leave it for a while, but it does seem like an odd design detail.
MacGuffin April 28, 2023
I've used the same press for decades. Unlike the current Zyliss crop, it was actually made in Switzerland. It doesn't have a device to clean it. I think I have a similarly old Italian one in a drawer somewhere as well.
Candygirl April 28, 2023
Clearly, the winner was not tested...the OXO Good Grips Garlic Press
Smaug April 19, 2023
I've owned several modern garlic presses, and they're generally no trouble to clean; squashed garlic dries out fast, but if you soak them along with other silverware they clean pretty easily. The problem I've had is with the pins they pivot on being weak; if they bend at all, the press won't close properly. My current Oxo model, like most of their products, operates well and is very sturdy. I foolishly bought one of those garlic rockers at one point- it might be usable if you were crushing a mountain of garlic, but for one or two cloves, you mash it once and all the garlic sticks in the holes, it's a ridiculous hassle to actually get the job done.
Smaug April 19, 2023
ps- I don't see using a knife to scrape off the garlic as a problem; a table knife isn't exactly difficult to wash; it can also be used to pry out skins if you're crushing unpeeled cloves.
Smaug April 19, 2023
pps the Oxo has a device for pushing garlic out of the holes, but it's built in; you simply open it out 270 degrees and Bob's your Uncle.