Because Food Is an Art: Guide to the Best Way to Cut up Vegetables

chopping vegetables
chopping vegetables

For many, cooking is an art form like no other. Each task is like a deft brush stroke – planning your meal, prepping your food, serving your delicious dishes to loved ones.

Whether you’re a meat eater who loves adding interesting flavorful veggie sides to the menu or a vegetarian who makes vegetables the star of the show, produce adds a pop of color to your meal.

The prep work is where you can get bogged down in the kitchen, though. Chopping vegetables can be tedious, but it’s an important task.  

Each vegetable has its own method of being cut too, which can impact its taste and texture.

Here are some of the basic cutting techniques to help you learn to skillfully chop vegetables and become a master artist in the kitchen.

Getting Started

Before you start cutting, there are a few things you need to do to prepare your workspace.

First, select the knife you’re planning to use. You’ll select a different knife based on the type of vegetable and the cut you’re using.

Clean the surface you’ll be cutting on. If you’re using a cutting board, put a wet paper towel or a mat underneath it to make sure it sticks to the surface a bit and doesn’t move while you’re using your knife.

Then, wash and dry the vegetables you’ll be chopping, and you’re ready to go!

Dicing

This is one of the most common culinary knife cuts. Dicing vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions into small blocks can be time consuming and monotonous. But it’s important to make sure your veggie is being diced uniformly to make for more even cooking.

There are several dice cuts of varying sizes. A large dice or carré is approximately 3/4 inch. A medium dice, also called a parmentier, measures 1/2 inch. A small dice, also called a macédoine, is about 1/4 inch. Then there is the brunoise cut, about 1/8 inch, and the fine brunoise, about 1/16 inch.

Before dicing your vegetable, first, you should peel it and cut off the root, if necessary. If it’s a rounded vegetable, then you should trim the ends to form the shape of a rectangle, which is a more stable base while you’re making knife cuts.

Remember to use your hand not holding the knife to stabilize the vegetable. You will do this with all types of cuts.

Then, slice your vegetables lengthwise. Remember, as you cut, keep your knife at a 90-degree angle. It should be parallel to your cutting surface.

After this first slice, slice it again, this time from top to bottom, creating cubes.

Mincing

A cut even finer than a fine brunoise is mincing. These uber small pieces are about as tiny as you get in the kitchen. Since this cut infuses your vegetable’s flavor throughout your dish, this style is typically used when preparing garnishes and sauces.

Common vegetables you might find yourself mincing are garlic, onion, ginger, and jalapeños.

Slicing

Most vegetables – onions, cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, peppers, tomatoes – can be sliced. It’s a popular form of preparation, and easier than dicing them. Slicing creates manageable pieces perfect for salads and sandwiches.

Trim and prepare the vegetable you’re slicing. If rounded, cut off the end to create a piece that is easier to manage while slicing it. Then, start slicing, either lengthwise or top to bottom, based on whatever suits your dish best.

Julienne

A julienne cut is often referred to as a matchstick cut because it cuts vegetables into long thin strips less than two inches.

The goal of this French-inspired cut is to create texture in a dish. You’ll more likely find yourself applying this technique to carrots, cucumbers, or celery. They’re commonly used in stir-fry. Some people also enjoy potatoes cut to this size and shape when frying them.

Using a mandolin is the easiest way to create julienne-cut vegetables, but you can accomplish the same thing with a knife.

Trim down your vegetables to create smaller pieces. Then cut them into long flat slices. After that, cut these slices into smaller thin, matchstick-style pieces.

Chiffonade

The chiffonade is the perfect fine cut for your leafy greens. This cut can be used on a range of greens, from delicate herbs, like basil, mint, and cilantro, and even more sturdy greens like lettuce and spinach. It all depends on what your dish calls for.

Leafy greens can be tough to slice, but the chiffonade cut makes it easy.

First, you should stack your flat leaves together. Next, you roll them up tightly. By cutting along the roll, you’ll create long shreds that you can separate.

Chiffonade-cut leafy greens make great garnishes for many dishes and are a great addition to salads.

More Tips for Making Chopping Vegetables Easier

Consider purchasing a knife glove for your heavy-duty chopping work. They’re cut resistant and will keep your hands safe while chopping.

You’ll also want to keep your knives sharp. A dull knife will take longer to chop veggies. Consider keeping a small knife sharpener among your kitchen gadgets to increase the longevity of your knives.

If you really want to make chopping vegetables easier, though, there are plenty of great vegetable choppers on the market. They come with various tools and settings so you can accomplish a variety of cuts. They also help you save some time in the kitchen.

Let us help you find the best vegetable chopper for your kitchen needs.

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