Basic Knife Cuts 101 – Learn to Become a Pro in Your Kitchen

a chef showing basic knife cuts

Regardless of the recipe you’re preparing, you will have to use a knife to do some basic knife cuts before cooking your ingredients. Peeling, cutting, and slicing the ingredients is the first in preparing a delicious dish. Not only will mastering these cuts will improve the way your dish will look, but it will also save you from serious injuries that you might commit if you’re not that experienced.

In this article, we’ll explain 13 of the most famous knife cuts you’re likely to use in the kitchen. Keep on reading to learn about them.

The Basic Knife Cuts

Here is a list of some of the most famous knife cuts and what they’re used for.

1. Chopped

Chopping is the process of cutting veggies and other ingredients into evenly sized pieces. The pieces aren’t uniform in size but are usually small to medium. A sharp vegetable chopper will be your perfect choice to cut different vegetables into bite-size pieces.

Most of these tools can do other cuts, too. Chopped cuts are mainly used in soups, stews, or even salads where the pieces’ uniformity doesn’t represent a problem.

How it’s done:

In some cases, you need to peel the vegetable, like when you’re working with onions and carrots. In other cases, you can chop veggies without worrying about peeling them.

You should cut the vegetable in half, then cut each half into parallel cuts lengthwise. Next, you should make several cuts parallel to the cutting board, then make cuts at a right angle with the board. If you want your pieces to be bigger, you should skip making parallel cuts.

2. Diced (Small, Medium, and Large)

You can dice meat and veggies for various recipes. This cut is often confused with the chopped cut, but the main difference is that dicing is about creating uniform cube pieces. Small dice pieces, or Macedoine, measure ¼ inch on all sides. Medium-sized dice pieces, or Parmentier, measure ½ inch on all sides, while large pieces, also called Carré, measure ¾ inch on all sides.

Depending on the size of the dice pieces, you can use the ingredients in salads, stews, vegetable dishes, and lots of other recipes. Meat and chicken can also be diced for multiple delicious recipes.

How it’s done:

In some recipes, the size of the dice pieces will be specifically mentioned. In other cases, it will be a matter of personal choice. You need a sharp knife to create uniform cuts. If you’re dicing tomatoes, you need a tomato knife that cuts through the skin without crushing the tomatoes.

If you’re dicing a tomato, you need to cut it into 2 halves. Take one half and place it with the cut face down on the cutting board. Start making parallel cuts to the board 2 or 3 times at the desired dice size. Make sure that you don’t reach the end of the half to keep the pieces uniform.

Make vertical cuts while holding the end of the tomato. As this will make dicing faster and less messy. If you’re working with other ingredients, remove the edges to make the vegetable square in shape, then start dicing. This will work for chicken, meat, bell peppers, and lots of other ingredients.

3. Paste

When you want to enjoy the flavor without adding texture, you should use a knife to make a paste. This can be used with garlic and tomatoes when you want to make sauces, where you don’t want the texture of the veggies to ruin the texture of the sauce or salsa.

How it’s done:

Use a sharp knife to chop garlic or tomatoes as fine as possible. Then use the blade of the knife to crush the small pieces. Keep on moving the knife in multiple directions to make sure that there are no large pieces left. If you’re crushing tomatoes, peel the skin first to make your job easier.

4. Mince

Mincing is suitable for herbs, as well as onions and garlic. It’s basically the process of fine chopping ingredients to allow the flavors to be infused evenly in the dish. Mincing creates tiny yet uneven cuts.

How it’s done:

To mince herbs, use a sharp knife to cut the ends of the stems, and start by making large chops. Use the knife to continue chopping until the cuts are tiny. You can mince garlic using a garlic peeler to remove the skin and then use a sharp Ulu knife to chop multiple times.

5. Rondelle

This method creates round cuts of uniform veggies like carrots and cucumbers. This is a versatile cut that works for most soft and hard veggies. You can use a knife or a slicer to create uniform cuts, depending on the recipe you’re preparing.

How it’s done:

Hold your vegetable and apply pressure. Use a sharp knife to make uniform slices. A slicer will work better for harder veggies like radishes, where a knife wouldn’t be able to make thin and consistent cuts. If the vegetable doesn’t look uniform, you can use a pineapple corer to create a uniform shape.

6. Bias Cut

This cut creates oval-shaped cuts by cutting vegetables diagonally. In most stir fry dishes, veggies are cut in a bias cut to increase the surface area, allowing heat to be distributed evenly while decreasing the cooking time.

How it’s done:

This works just the rondelle or basic slice cut. However, you should hold the knife, so it’s slightly slanted to create these oval-shaped slices. For a dramatic bias cut, tilt the blade at a high angle.

7. Julienne (AKA Matchstick)

As the name suggests, the cuts are thin-shaped, just like matchsticks. This cut is used in salads and stir fry dishes because it allows vegetables to cook fast.

How it’s done:

First, you need to remove all the irregular edges to turn your vegetable into a square. Cut your vegetable lengthwise into thin rectangular slices. Take these slices and cut them into the thinnest slices possible to create matchsticks that should be uniform in size.

8. Batonnet

If you’re cutting vegetables for dips, this will be the cut to use. The batonnet is also the cut used to make French fries. This cut is slightly larger than the Julienne cut.

How it’s done:

Just like the Julienne cut, you need to remove all the irregular edges, then cut the piece into ¼ inch thin rectangular slices, then into sticks.

9.Shredding

This is another version of the Julienne cut where the cuts are extremely thin and might not be uniform. Vegetables are mainly shredded for salads, sauces, and pies where you want the vegetables to cook fast while losing their texture.

It’s the cut used to make hash browns and mashed potatoes after mixing other ingredients to turn your potatoes into a thick paste.

How it’s done:

Different vegetables can be easily shredded using a box shredder. This will help you cut even the thickest vegetables with no issues. You can use the same tool used for grating cheese to create this cut.

10. Paysanne

This cut is probably one of the most widely-used ones because you basically cut the vegetable without cutting the edges. As a result, when you cut carrots or cucumbers, the slices you create will have different diameters. You can use this cut in most salads and other dishes where the shape doesn’t matter.

How it’s done:

Using a sharp knife, you should cut the vegetable into rather uniform slices. You don’t need to remove the edges to make the vegetable more uniform.

11. Chiffonade

This is the method used to cut the stems of leafy greens like lettuce, basil, and parsley. The cut pieces can be used in salads and garnish.

How it’s done:

Remove the stems and stack the leaves very close to each other. Roll the leaves to create thin tubes and use a sharp knife to cut through the rolls to make thin ribbons.

12. Brunoise

This is the finest dice, creating the smallest cubes from the Julienne cut. It’s mainly used for garnish.

How it’s done:

After finishing a Julienne cut, stack some sticks together and cut the thinnest dices, measuring about 3 mm on all sides.

13. Tourné

This is the French word for turned and should be done using a special curved knife. The Tourné knife is a small paring knife with a beak-like blade to create the desired shape. This cut is used for garnish or to make uniform-sized pieces that cook evenly.

How it’s done:

After peeling your vegetable, use the knife to make an oblong ball shape that tapers at each end.

Wrap Up

When you’re cooking, you’re likely to use one or all of these cuts. Remember that no matter how challenging they may seem, practice makes perfect.

Brian M. Casey

    Product reviewer & passionate blogger. Beside writing for this blog, I spend my time crafting research based contents for HuffingtonPost, Lifehacker & Forbes!

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