How to Chiffonade

Three Parts:Prepping the LeavesCutting the LeavesTrying Out New Recipes

You could just chop your leafy greens such as basil, spinach, lettuce or sorrel, or you could practice this technique of cutting them into "rags" or what typically looks like ribbons. The chiffonade technique is based on French cooking, although other cuisines use this technique, too. It's ideal for garnishes, pastas, salads, and more.

Part 1
Prepping the Leaves

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    Get a sharp knife. And it should be sharp. This is especially important for basil, which will "bruise" if you use a dull knife. A knife that's not sharp will crush the edges, letting the juices seep out instead of making a clean cut. What's more, they'll be prettier, too.[1]
    • Make sure you're holding it correctly. Your fingers should be curled so your knuckles face outward on top of the handle, close to the blade. Your four fingers should all be on the same side. This is called the "claw grip" and it's how chefs do their quick, efficient work.[2]
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    Gently rinse the leafy ingredient. The chiffonade technique is good for all leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, but also basil, mint, arugula, or sage. All of these need to rinsed under cold water before beginning.
    • For basil, keep in mind that you don't really need it until the very end. If you want to hold off on cutting the basil and adding it to your dish, you can. It's delicious raw and the short blast of heat brings out its flavors.[3] That and once you chiffonade, you don't want to give it a chance to brown.
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    Gather the clean leaves into a stack. Start with the largest leaf on the bottom and build up from there. For herbs like basil and mint that are made up of smaller leaves, you can get away with stacking around 8 to 10. For larger leaves, like lettuce, you may want to stick to only three or so.
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    Roll the stack of leaves together tightly in a cigar shape. Hold the leaves horizontally in front of you and begin wrapping them tightly into a roll. Hold it in place as you pick up your knife with your dominant hand.
    • This is why you started with the largest leaf on the outside – it'll hold your roll together.

Part 2
Cutting the Leaves

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    Finely slice the "cigar" roll into ribbons. Begin slicing across the "cigar" at a 60° angle. Let your knuckles be your guide (but be careful not to cut yourself).
    • The closer your cuts, the smaller your shreds will be. Most people chiffonade at about 1/8" wide (.3 cm).
    • Use a rocking motion so you don't have to pick up the knife every time; this will seriously speed up your cutting time.
    • Use a cutting board underneath your leaves to avoid marring your countertop or table.
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    Separate the cut leaves into pieces. Finish slicing the entire roll, down to the pointy edges. Fluff the shreds with your fingertips, separating them from their tangles.
    • If you cut any stems, discard them now. You only want the leaves as part of your dish.
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    Use as a garnish or in a recipe, as needed. It's best to use your "chiffonaded" herbs or veggies as soon as possible – the edges may brown and they could lose their flavor if left on the cutting board too long.[4] Sprinkle in as a garnish or dish up alone as soon as possible.

Part 3
Trying Out New Recipes

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    Make basil pesto pasta. Olive oil, garlic, cheese, pasta, and basil? Good luck turning that down. Now that you know how to chiffonade your basil, it'll be complete with a beautiful garnish, too.
    • Never made pesto before? Homemade is definitely the way to go. And you're in luck – wikiHow has an entire category devoted to the creation.
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    Make a simple garden salad. Gone are the days when you have to daintily shove whole pieces of lettuce in your mouth without dressing dripping down your shirt. Chiffonade your salad beforehand and everything will be automatically bite size.
    • Not so keen on the salad by itself? This type of cut lettuce is good for a topper to any Mexican food, too. Who said "healthy tacos" can't be a thing?
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    Make grilled chicken with lemon basil pasta. This dish has every flavor your mouth could want from the savory, juicy chicken to the citrusy, herb-y pasta. This is a balanced, delectable meal that's impressive to boot.
    • And what's even better? 15 minutes to throw together, and about 20 minutes or so to prepare. You can have an amazing dinner ready to go in much less than an hour.
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    Make tomato and basil soup. In the winter and fall, nothing beats a hearty bowl of soup. Stretch your new skills with this tomato and basil recipe, adding your chiffonaded garnish and whatever else you like (bacon and cheddar anyone?).
    • This is a healthy meal that can fit many diets. If you up your cooking skills in the herb and veggie department, a boring diet can be turned into something much more sustainable and exciting.


  • Use a sharp knife.


  • Be careful when cutting the leaves to prevent accidental cuts.

Article Info

Categories: Food Cutting Techniques