What Is a Chiffonade Cut in Cooking, and How Do You Master It?

It sounds fancy, but you can master the next-level knife skill of the chiffonade cut in just seconds.

If you've ever ordered a dish at a restaurant presented with gorgeous strips of fresh herbs sprinkled on top, the odds are the herbs were cut in the chiffonade style. In French, "chiffonade" means "made of rags." In culinary terms, it refers to thin strips of fresh herbs, lettuce, or other leafy greens.

You pronounce "chiffonade" like shif-uh-nahd or shif-uh-neyd; both are acceptable. Cutting an herb or leafy greens into a chiffonade is not only attractive but helps release flavor. The technique also makes quick work of chopping. You'll most commonly see chiffonade called for when using basil, but you can also use it for salads and other dishes.

cutting leafy herb on cutting board
Kritsada Panichgul

How to Chiffonade

The only tools you'll need to chiffonade basil or any other leafy green ingredients are a chef's knife and a cutting board. Start by thoroughly washing your produce, then proceed as follows:

  1. Stack the herb or lettuce leaves. Starting with a long edge of the stack, roll up the leaves.
  2. With a small, sharp knife, slice across the roll into thin strips, about ⅛ inch or thinner.

There you have it—no more questioning just what chiffonade is when you stumble upon it in a recipe. You've got all the knowledge to conquer this cut.

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