How to Slice Vegetables | Dice, Rough Chop, Mince, & more

  • Most of us have been here before: reading through a recipe, eager to try something new, when you come upon a word you don’t quite know the meaning of. Julienne and batonnet? High school French class was so long ago. Medium dice? Probably not referring to that old Yahtzee box in the closet. Rough chop? OK, you might be able to figure that one out on your own. There are several types of knife cuts, most of which aren’t so self-explanatory, and all are worth mastering if you want to become a well-rounded home chef capable of pulling off those recipes you’ve been keeping bookmarked.

    This article covers 9 of the most popular knife cuts: small, medium, and large dice; mince; rough chop; batonnet; julienne; rondelle; and chiffonade. For all these cuts, you’ll need a cutting board, a damp towel, and — of course — a chef’s knife. A veggie peeler and paring knife may also be useful depending on what you’re cutting.

  • Man cutting vegetables.

When cutting anything, we recommend you lay flat a damp towel beneath your cutting board to create surface tension that prevents the board from sliding around mid-cut. It’s also important to wash and, if necessary, peel vegetables before cutting. To help ensure these cuts result in uniform pieces, square off any oblong food by chopping off the ends and trimming the sides so you’re left with a big, rectangular block. Now let’s go step by step through each of the 9 knife cuts you’ll most likely need in the kitchen.

  • Large Dice Cuts

    Dicing food will give you little cubes of varying sizes, the biggest of which measures ¾ of an inch on all sides. You can large-dice just about anything from potatoes to carrots and peppers to onions, making this technique one of the most common around.

    1. Cut your food lengthwise into planks about ¾ of an inch thick.

    2. Turn the planks on their side and stack them on top of each other. Cut them into rectangles also about ¾ of an inch.

    3. Line up the rectangles side by side and cut across their length every ¾ of an inch, which will form them into evenly sized cubes.

  • Medium Dice Cuts

    Medium-diced veggies should be somewhere between ⅓ and ½ of an inch on every side, though Chef Tony prefers his on the smaller end. If you encounter a recipe that calls for a diced ingredient without providing a size, it’s usually a good idea to shoot for medium dice.

    1. Cut lengthwise into planks measuring about ⅓ of an inch thick.

    2. Rotate the planks to their side before stacking them on top of each other. Cut the stack into rectangles that are about ⅓ of an inch in thickness.

    3. Line up the rectangles and cut across their length every ⅓ of an inch to achieve evenly sized cubes.

  • Small Dice Cuts

    A small dice, which gives you cubes ¼ of an inch on each side, is best done on root vegetables like potatoes and carrots. Rigid foods also tend to receive this type of knife treatment. Unsurprisingly, the steps for small dicing are the same as those for medium and large, just with slightly smaller results.

    1. Cut food lengthwise into planks around ¼ of an inch thick.

    2. Stack the planks on their sides, then cut them into rectangles that are also about ¼ of an inch thick.

    3. To form evenly sized cubes, just line up the rectangles side by side then cut across their length at every ¼ of an inch. For even finer small dice, perform this step on julienne-cut strips (which we’ll cover momentarily).

  • How to Mince

    Sometimes it makes sense to mince. This technique creates extremely tiny but uneven bits of food and is a great cut to put to use on trimmings from a squared-off vegetable. Mincing leads to food that’s more evenly dispersed in a dish, perfect for items like garlic, bell peppers, onions, shallots.

    1. Start from a small dice.

    2. Place your non-dominant hand on the spine of the blade, fairly close to the tip. Apply slight pressure with your hand while moving the knife in a rocking motion across the small-diced food. Continue chopping until the bits are as tiny as they can get, and don’t worry about uniformity of the pieces.

  • How to Rough Chop

    Just like with a mince, rough-chopped food doesn’t have to be identical in size. Rough chopping is best suited for dishes where a mixture of veggies needs to cook down or presentation doesn’t matter. That’s why it’s the preferred cut for a mirepoix (onions, celery, and carrots) or a holy trinity (swap the carrots for green bell pepper).

    1. If you’re rough-chopping something like celery that doesn’t need to be squared off, just get right to cutting! Aim for relatively large, fairly uneven cuts around ¾ of an inch thick.

    2. If your food needs to be squared off, create ¾-inch-by-¾-inch rectangles as you would for a large dice. Then begin rough chopping, keeping in mind that uniformity doesn’t matter for this type of cut.

  • How to Batonnet Cut

    “Batonnet” is simply the French word for “baton” or “stick,” but this technique is more commonly known as the French-fry cut. It’s a method that gives you rectangles about 2 inches long and can be the basis for dicing or the julienne cut, which we’ll cover next. A standard batonnet is ¼ of an inch by ¼ of an inch, though your second cut can be ½ of an inch to make steak fries.

    1. Cut your food into long planks about ¼ of an inch thick.

    2. Stack the planks on top of each other and cut another set of ¼-inch thick planks. Again, the second cut can be ½ of an inch for thick steak fries.

  • How to Julienne Cut

    Some good news for you: If you can batonnet, you can julienne! It’s the exact same process as the batonnet, just with smaller results — a fine (or traditional) julienne is cut to 1/16 of an inch, whereas a large julienne is somewhere between ⅛ and ¼ and of an inch. This matchstick-style cut is commonly used on carrots, celery, potatoes, and peppers.

    1. Depending on the type of julienne you want, cut your food lengthwise into planks measuring 1/16 (fine) or ⅛ (large) of an inch.

    2. Stack the planks and cut again to the appropriate width based on which julienne you need.

  • How to Rondelle Cut

    Odds are you’ve actually performed a rondelle cut before without even knowing it. A rondelle is simply a basic slice, creating little round pieces of food that measure about ⅛–¼ of an inch thick. This cut is easiest to achieve on cylindrical fruit or vegetables but can be used on pretty much anything.

    1. Slice across the length of your food, making a cut every ⅛ or ¼ of an inch. Yep, that’s all it takes!

  • How to Chiffonade Cut

    Ever wonder how chefs get those beautiful, ribbon-like greens to garnish their dishes? The secret’s in the chiffonade, a cut that turns leafy herbs or greens into elegant strips about ⅛–¼ of an inch thick. In addition to propping up your presentation, chiffonade-cut herbs like mint and basil leaves can provide a bit of flavor.

    1. Stack the veggie or herb leaves and tightly roll them into a cylinder.

    2. Make cuts about every ⅛ or ¼ of an inch across the length of the roll.

    3. Unroll the leafy cylinder and admire the beautiful, thin ribbons you’ve just created.

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