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These tips are provided, with permission from a "Harmony of Flavors"Please visit the site for an excellent selection of recipes and more cooking tips.

Cutting Methods

Here are five of the most common terms for ways of cutting foods that should demystify these terms for everyone. 

Five Cutting Methods

Slicing is the simplest of all methods. Most people understand the word, so maybe this is less necessary to explain. Slicing can be done thick or thin and any gradient between. Not everyone is able to slice neatly and evenly, but slicing is a downward motion with a knife. How this downward motion is accomplished can vary. One may slice bread, which requires a sawing downward motion to slice without smashing the bread. If slicing an onion, a simple downward motion is perfect.  Slicing a green pepper can vary. Usually one cuts the pepper open and cleans out seeds and membranes, but then do we slice across the pepper, or lengthwise? Sometimes this is purely preference, and sometimes it depends on how the final dish is to look. 
Chopping can be done roughly or finely. The gradations are sometimes individually termed, such as coarse chop, or fine chop. Chopping is the method for making smaller pieces of a vegetable or fruit, for such things as a saute, salad, or soup. Making a salsa can be done coarsely chopped or more finely chopped. Chopping an onion is relatively simple, since with all the layers, quite a lot of small pieces are accomplished with few strokes. Some people chop slowly and some develop skill and chop more quickly. The most important thing is a sharp knife, which makes any chopping task much easier. 

To mince means to chop into extremely tiny bits. Most often one minces garlic, as an example. This allows the strongly flavored bulb to be distributed evenly throughout a dish. Mincing any vegetable will take a longer time, as the chopping motions must continue until all the pieces are uniformly small. Fresh herbs are often minced before adding to food. Mincing is used when the desire is to distribute flavors without marring the visual effect, or as with the garlic, to distribute flavors most evenly. A garlic press will approximate the fineness of mincing garlic, though most professional chefs do not use a press. 


To julienne means to slice into long strips of very uniform matchstick shape and size. There are tools out there these days that can help to make quick work of julienning vegetables such as carrot or zucchini, among others.  If julienning by hand, take the vegetable, such as a carrot, cut 3 to 4 inch lengths and slice each piece lengthwise into thin, even slices. Stack 3 or more of these thin slices together and again slice lengthwise through the stack, creating very thin matchsticks of the vegetable. These little sticks are often about 3 or more inches long, and can be added to a salad or a stir fry or wherever desired. 


This term is most often applied to leafy foods, such as herbs or spinach or other leafy vegetables. It involves taking the leaves and stacking a lot of them together and then rolling the stack into a cigar like shape. While holding that roll steady with one hand, take your knife and slice across the cigar shape in very narrow slices. What you will have at the end are literally threadlike pieces of the food. A chiffonade of basil leaves is most wonderful on a Caprese Salad of tomato and mozzarella slices. A chiffonade of spinach or kale would be excellent tossed into a stir fry at the last minute.