How to Chop Food Like a Pro

Four Parts:Choosing a Cutting SurfaceLearning to Use a KnifeLearning to Chop EvenlyTaking Care of Knives

One of the first skills that a chef learns is how to chop vegetables and meat quickly. This helps them to complete recipes quickly and time the cooking of the entire meal. If you find yourself unable to chop food quickly, this is a common problem among home cooks. However, with practice you can learn to chop quickly and evenly, which may in turn help the quality of your meals because evenly shaped vegetables incorporate more uniformly as they break down. Knife skills are an essential part of being an efficient and safe cook. They include knowing what knives to use, sharpening knives regularly and holding the food properly. The quality and quickness of chopping will develop in time. Read on to find out how to chop food like a pro.

Part 1
Choosing a Cutting Surface

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    Choose the correct flat cutting surface. Do not cut on a worktop surface, especially metal. You need to keep the edge of the knife sharp so use, in order of preference of trained Chefs, High Density Plastic, Low Density Plastic, Wood. Never use glass, only diamond can cut glass so you WILL RUIN ANY KNIFE
    • Most people suggest a plastic cutting board for cutting vegetables and a wooden cutting board for cutting meat. Wood, kept properly, has natural antiseptic properties. If in doubt clean every board before, changing food and after. Wood will absorb antibacterial cleansers and could taint food.

Part 2
Learning to Use a Knife

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    Choose the correct knife. In order to chop properly you should have a set of knives that includes a paring knife 1.5", a chef's knife 6", a boning knife 4-5" and a carving knife. Some chefs believe you only need a chef's knife that is no less than 5 inches (12.5 cm) long.
    • A paring knife is a small, knife that is used for cutting small areas. A carving knife is a long straight blade, similar to a bread knife. A chef's knife is a straight knife that is longer than a paring knife with a definitive curved front edge as so to be able to rock the knife back and forth and can be used to cut meat or vegetables. The chef's knife is the most difficult to master but useful knife to most chefs and cooks.
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    Hold your chef's knife as if you were going to shake hands with it, using your dominant hand. Your index finger should be near the top and side of the knife, rather than on the bottom of the handle. This placement of the index finger allows you to learn the "rolling chop."
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    Keep the tip of the chef's knife down on the cutting board. Make the knife blade go forward and down at once. Instead of landing flat on the cutting board, the knife "rolls" through the food, and you can easily pick the blade, not the tip, and roll through the next part of the food.
    • Practice the rolling chop without a vegetable at first. Start very slowly and work toward chopping very quickly.
    • There is an exception to the "handshake" rule if you are trying to cut very small things, like garlic, with a paring knife. You may need to use your index finger at the bottom to control the small item.
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    Form a claw with your subordinate hand. The knuckle on your middle finger will form the end of the claw, closest to the knife's edge. Place the claw on top of the food you intend to cut.
    • Most people tend to cut with their fingertips holding the end of the food. If you form a claw, you are far less likely to cut your own fingers.

Part 3
Learning to Chop Evenly

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    Cut your vegetable in half lengthwise with the root at the top. Lay both sides so the cut, flat end is on the cutting board. Start with 1 half and hold both sides of the vegetable over the knife.
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    Touch your tip to the top of the vegetable. Lift the blade, but not the tip and cut lengthwise in even divisions. This may take some time to master cutting in even lengths down the vegetable.
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    Gather the sticks you've created, and then chop across the width in even measurements. Keep your hand in claw form until you have cut along the entire width. You should have created small squares of the vegetable.
    • As you become better at moving your subordinate hand in claw form, you will be able to cut smaller and faster.
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    Repeat with the second half of the vegetable. You can do this with most vegetables, including onions. Make sure to keep the root on top and cut down from the root.
    • If you want to dice onions very small, you can cut horizontally through the onion before you chop. Do not cut all the way to the end. When you turn the onion to cut through the width, your diced onions will be smaller.

Part 4
Taking Care of Knives

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    Store your knives in a knife block or on a magnetic metal rack. If you store them in drawers, they are most likely to become more blunt because they will bang against other metal utensils.
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    Sharpen your knives in order to cut correctly and safely. A dull knife will slip off the item. If you want to cook like a pro, you should invest in a knife sharpener and read the instructions about how to effectively sharpen your knives.
    • You can buy a whetstone, ceramic or steel sharpener. Most chefs suggest a ceramic sharpener and they suggest sharpening at an angle anywhere between 10 and 30 degrees.
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    Wash your knives with mild soap and warm water. Dry them immediately afterward. If you let them air dry, make sure the tips are down.


  • Some meat may need to be cut with a boning knife. This is not an act of chopping, but rather an act of removing meat from bone. It should be carefully done by carving the meat from the surface of the bone.
  • Meat can also be cut with a sharp chef's knife and diced like vegetables. First cut across lengthwise and then through the width.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden cutting board
  • Plastic cutting board
  • Paring knife
  • Chef's knife
  • Bread knife
  • Knife sharpener
  • Vegetables or meat

Article Info

Categories: Cooking Knives and Blades