The Best Way to Cut 10 Vegetables
Vegetables can be a pain in the ass to prep if you don’t know what you’re doing, and I’ll admit it’s much easier to just say screw it and eat potato chips instead (that’s a vegetable!). But they add color, texture, and flavor to foods you cook. Plus, we hear they’re nutritious. Thankfully, veggies are actually quick and easy to cut once you actually know how to do it properly.
Below are tried-and-true chopping methods for 10 tricky-to-cut vegetables. Before you get started, stabilize your cutting board. If it doesn’t have rubber grippers, place a damp dish towel underneath to keep it in place. And, most importantly, be sure your knife is good and sharp.
Diced avocadoInsert a paring knife into the top of the avocado (where the stem was) and gently press down until you reach the pit. Keep the knife steady and rotate the fruit so the knife travels all the way around the pit, cutting the entire avocado in half. Remove the knife and slowly twist the two sides away from each other to separate. Strike the pit with the blade of your knife and twist to remove the pit. Use the knife’s tip to slice the flesh in horizontal and vertical rows. Be careful not to cut through the skin. Gently invert the avocado to release the pieces, or scoop them out with a spoon.
Cauliflower floretsStart by tearing off the leaves on the bottom of the cauliflower. Use a paring knife to cut into the stems attached to the stalk. Pull the florets loose and discard the stalk. To make smaller bite-size chunks, slice into the trunk of the larger florets and they will easily break into two pieces.
Diced jalapeñoThis is the best way I’ve found to remove seeds from a jalapeño with minimal contact and squirtage. If you’ve ever had your hands burn for days afterward or got a shot of chile juice in the eye, you know what I’m talking about.
Slice the tip off the jalapeño and stand it upright, holding it by its stem. Slice down from the stem, removing the flesh from the seeds and core. To dice, cut the slices into matchsticks and then gather them in a row. Slice in the opposite direction to create even squares.
Chopped garlicCut crosswise to remove the root end of the garlic clove. Place flat side of a chef’s knife over the clove and smash it with your other hand. Pop out the crushed garlic (the peel should come right off). Hold the tip of your knife down on the cutting board and rock the blade back and forth over the garlic clove until each piece is chopped to approximately the same size. You’ll need to gather the garlic together occasionally, as well as sweep it off the blade of your knife.
Sliced and diced bell pepperWith a chef’s knife, cut off the top of the pepper just below the shoulder so that you remove the entire stem end, exposing the ribs inside the pepper. Tap the pepper against the cutting board to remove the seeds. Cut the flesh into slices, removing the ribs.
To dice, cut the slices into matchstick-size pieces and then gather them in a row. Slice in the opposite direction to create even squares.
Trimmed asparagusAsparagus is one of the easier vegetables to prep. Still, there are a few good tricks to know. You want to discard the bottom inch or so of the thick, fibrous stem because this stuff is tough to chew. Hold a spear with both hands about two inches from the tip and the end. Gently bend the asparagus until it snaps in two. It will naturally break at the point of resistance.
Leave them whole if roasting or grilling. Cut them into 1-inch pieces if sautéing.
Chopped onionWith a chef’s knife, cut the stem end off and place the onion down on the cut side so it can stand on its own. Slice the onion in half right through the root. Peel each half. Place the onion cut-side down on the cutting board and slice into it lengthwise with the tip of the knife in ¼-inch intervals. Be careful not to cut into the root, as it helps hold all the pieces together. Make ¼-inch slices again in the opposite direction for a perfectly chopped onion.
Sliced and diced tomatoesFor slices, you want to cut against the core so that each slice has a “spoke” of tomato flesh holding the seeds together. Place the tomato on its side so that the stem end faces your knife-wielding hand. With a serrated knife, slice through the top of the tomato, parallel to the stem. Keep slicing in even intervals toward the bottom.
For dice, continue by removing the seeds from the slices. Cut each slice into strips, then crosswise into squares.
Swiss chard ribbonsStack leaves in an even pile, then tightly roll them together from one side to the other. Slice crosswise, starting at the top, in 1-inch increments.
Carrots five waysThe wedge is the easiest cut and good in stews and stir-fries. With a chef’s knife, make a 45°-angled cut in the carrot. Then, make another 45° cut in the opposite direction, creating a V-shaped wedge. Continue in this alternating pattern until you’re all out of carrot.
For coins, simply slice off rounds by cutting the carrot crosswise. You want to aim for evenly sized pieces so they cook at the same rate, so reduce the thickness of your slices as they increase in diameter.
Slabs are just bigger coins. Same idea, except place your knife at a sharp angle (almost parallel) before slicing down.
For sticks, cut the carrot in half lengthwise, then halve again. If your carrot is big, you may want to cut it into thirds. Then cut those pieces crosswise into shorter sticks.
Dice carrots by simply gathering sticks into a row and slicing crosswise into small pieces. They won’t be perfectly square, but square enough.