Ginger Skin: To Peel or Not to Peel

Ginger on cutting board

With its distinctive flavour and versatility, ginger has been a staple ingredient in kitchens around the world for centuries. However, there seems to be an ongoing debate among culinary enthusiasts as to whether or not ginger needs to be peeled before use. In this article, we will explore the question of whether ginger should be peeled and provide expert insight on the subject.

The case for peeling ginger

Traditionally, peeling ginger is a common practice in many culinary traditions. Peeling helps to remove the tough outer layer, revealing the softer flesh underneath. The skin of ginger can be slightly fibrous and can have a more intense and pungent flavour compared to the flesh. Peeling ginger also makes for a smoother texture in dishes where ginger is not intended to be a prominent element.

According to the Food Network, ginger can be peeled by using a vegetable peeler or a spoon to scrape off the skin. This method is particularly recommended if the skin is thicker, or if you plan to chop the ginger coarsely and want to avoid including the skin in your dish.

The case against peeling ginger

Contrary to popular belief, some chefs and culinary experts argue that ginger does not need to be peeled. They believe that the skin of ginger contains valuable flavour and nutrients, and that removing it can result in unnecessary waste.

An article published in The Guardian, featuring chef Tom Hunt, highlights the idea that the skin of ginger can be used in various dishes, such as sushi, to reduce food waste and add an earthy flavour. The article suggests that if the ginger skin is thin and not too fibrous, it can be left intact and used in recipes where the skin won’t affect the texture or flavour.

How to peel ginger: Tips and techniques

Whether you’re preparing a stir-fry, a curry or a soothing ginger tea, it’s important to know how to peel ginger properly. In this article, we will explore different methods for peeling ginger, including techniques from reputable sources such as Simply Recipes, Food & Wine, and Piping Pot Curry.

Use a vegetable peeler:

  1. Start by selecting a fresh ginger root with smooth skin.
  2. Hold the ginger firmly and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
  3. Gently slide the peeler along the surface of the ginger, applying light pressure to remove the outer layer.
  4. Continue peeling until all the skin has been removed, rotating the ginger as necessary.

Peel with a spoon:

  1. Choose a spoon with a thin, smooth edge.
  2. Hold the ginger firmly and use the edge of the spoon to scrape off the skin.
  3. Apply gentle pressure and pull the spoon down the ginger to remove the skin.
  4. Repeat this process until the entire root has been peeled.

Cutting and peeling technique:

  1. Start by cutting off the desired amount of ginger from the root.
  2. Use a knife to remove the skin by gently scraping it off.
  3. Hold the ginger firmly and peel off thin sections of the skin, working your way around the root.
  4. Continue slicing and peeling until the entire ginger is free of skin.

Tips for peeling ginger

  • Choose fresh ginger roots with smooth skin for easier peeling.
  • Use the back of a spoon or vegetable peeler for safer and more efficient peeling.
  • If the skin is tough, you can score it lightly with a knife before peeling to make it easier to remove.
  • Be careful when peeling and handle the ginger root carefully to avoid accidents.

Expert recommendations

To settle this debate, it is best to consider the specific culinary application and personal preference. Here are some expert recommendations on when to peel and when not to peel ginger:

  1. Peel for a smoother texture: If you want a smoother texture in your dish or to avoid fibrous bits, peeling ginger is recommended. This is especially true when using finely chopped or grated ginger.
  2. Peeling for flavour and visual appeal: If the ginger skin is thin, tender and not fibrous, leaving it on can add an earthy flavour and visual appeal to your dishes. This is particularly important in recipes where the skin doesn’t significantly affect the overall texture.
  3. Personal taste and recipe requirements: Ultimately, the decision to peel ginger should be based on personal taste preferences and specific recipe requirements. Some people may find the flavour of the skin too intense, while others may enjoy the added complexity.

Popular dishes where ginger peel is recommended for added flavour and appeal

Leaving the ginger skin on can add a unique flavour and visual appeal to certain dishes. Here are some popular dishes where leaving the skin on is recommended:

  • Sushi: When making sushi, especially with pickled ginger (gari), leaving the skin on can add a slightly earthy and tangy flavour. The thin skin blends well with the other flavours in sushi and adds an interesting element to the overall taste experience.
  • Infused drinks: When using ginger to infuse drinks such as tea, lemonade or cocktails, leaving the skin on can add a subtle spiciness and aromatic note. The natural oils in the skin contribute to the flavour profile of the infused drink, creating a more complex and nuanced taste.
  • Asian stir-fries: In Asian stir-fry dishes such as ginger beef or ginger chicken, leaving the skin on can add depth and intensity to the dish. The flavour of the skin penetrates the sauce and enhances the overall savoury profile of the stir-fry.
  • Marinades and dressings: When making ginger-based marinades or dressings, leaving the skin on can provide a robust and earthy flavour. The skin adds complexity to the marinade or dressing, resulting in a more vibrant and aromatic finished dish.
  • Roasted vegetables: Roasting vegetables with ginger is a popular cooking method, and leaving the ginger skin on can contribute to the roasted flavour. The skin caramelises with the vegetables, intensifying the overall flavour and creating a delicious combination of sweet and savoury notes.
  • Herbal soups and broths: In herbal soups and broths, such as Chinese herbal chicken soup or ginger miso soup, leaving the ginger skin on can enhance the medicinal and aromatic qualities of the dish. The natural oils and flavours of the skin infuse the soup, giving it a distinctive taste.


In the ongoing debate about whether or not to peel ginger, there is no definitive right or wrong answer. Peeling ginger can provide a smoother texture and milder flavour, while leaving the skin on can contribute to a more robust flavour profile and reduced food waste.

I recommend experimenting with both peeled and unpeeled ginger to find your preferred approach. Consider the recipe, desired flavour profile and texture requirements when deciding whether to peel or not. Remember, cooking is a creative and personal journey, and there’s room for exploration and adaptation in every kitchen.


Does ginger need to be peeled?

Yes, ginger can be peeled, but it is not always necessary. The decision to peel ginger depends on personal preference and the specific recipe you are preparing. The skin of ginger is edible and contains some of its flavour, but it can be fibrous and tough, especially in older ginger roots. Peeling ginger can help to remove any tough or woody texture from the skin.

How can I tell if ginger needs to be peeled?

If the ginger root has a smooth and tender skin, it may not need to be peeled. Young ginger roots generally have thinner skin, which is more tender and can be left unpeeled. However, if the skin appears wrinkled, dry or fibrous, it is recommended that you peel it before using it in your recipe.

What are the benefits of peeling ginger?

Peeling ginger can remove any tough or fibrous texture from the skin, resulting in a smoother and more pleasant eating experience. It can also help to remove any dirt or impurities that may be present on the skin, ensuring a cleaner end product.

How do I peel ginger without a peeler?

If you don’t have a vegetable peeler, you can use the edge of a spoon to scrape off the skin. Hold the ginger firmly and gently press the edge of the spoon against the skin, then pull down to remove the skin. Repeat this process until all the skin has been removed.

Can I use a knife to peel ginger?

Yes, you can use a knife to peel ginger. Hold the ginger firmly and use the back of the knife to scrape off the skin. Be careful and use gentle pressure to avoid accidents. Alternatively, you can use a knife to cut off thin sections of the skin, working your way around the ginger root.

Can I leave the skin on ginger when I cook it?

Yes, you can leave the skin on ginger when cooking, especially when using young ginger with tender skin. However, note that the skin can have a slightly fibrous texture, so it may be preferable to peel it for a smoother eating experience in certain recipes.

Are there alternative ways to peel ginger?

As well as using a peeler, spoon or knife, another method of peeling ginger is to use the edge of a teaspoon. Hold the ginger firmly and scrape the edge of the teaspoon against the skin to remove it. This method is similar to using a spoon and can be just as effective for peeling ginger.