How to Chop Fennel

Fennel adds a fascinating anise flavor and pleasing crunch to many dishes. We'll show you how to chop a fennel bulb to use in soups, salads, stir-fries, pot roasts, and other recipes. Fennel recipes bring flavors unlike any other veggie to your table, so learning how to chop fennel and adding it to your meal plan is a great way to mix up your usual dinner routine.

How to Choose and Store Fennel

With its wispy fronds and bulbous base, fennel looks like a feather-topped, potbellied cousin to celery. But its flavor is remarkably different. The white bulb and bright green fronds have a gentle, slightly sweet anise flavor. The stalks of fennel are tough and usually not eaten. 

  • In many areas, fennel is available year-round; however, its peak season is October through April. 
  • Look for crisp, clean bulbs without brown spots or blemishes. The wispy fronds on top should be bright green and fresh looking.
  • Once home, refrigerate fennel, tightly wrapped, for up to 5 days.

How to Remove the Stalks from Fennel

It might look intimidating, but learning how to chop a fennel bulb is super easy once you know the process. Follow these steps to start:

  • Place the fennel horizontally on a cutting surface. Using a sharp chefs knife, carefully cut about 1 inch above the fennel bulb to remove the stalks.
  • Cut a few of the bright green fronds from the stalks to save as a garnish for the dish. To keep the fronds fresh while the dish cooks, rinse them in cool tap water. Pat them dry, then wrap in plastic wrap or place in a resealable plastic storage bag until ready to use.

How to Cut the Root End from Fennel

  • Remove and discard any wilted outer layers of the bulb.
  • Place one hand toward the top of the fennel bulb to steady it. Using a sharp knife, cut a thin slice off the root end of the fennel bulb. Discard the root.

How to Chop Fennel Bulb

  • Wash the fennel under cool, clear tap water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Stand the fennel bulb upright on its root end. Steadying the bulb with one hand, cut the bulb in half lengthwise from the stalk clear through to the root end.

How to Chop or Slice Fennel

Follow instructions given with a recipe on how to chop fennel, or how to slice fennel. If no specific instructions are given, and the recipe calls for fennel chopped, sliced, or cut into wedges, follow these instructions.

For Chopped Fennel:

Cut each fennel half lengthwise into two pieces to make quarters. Cut away and discard the tough core portion from each quarter. Then, cut the fennel quarters into irregular pieces as follows:

  • For finely chopped fennel, cut 1/8-inch pieces or smaller.
  • For medium-size chopped fennel, cut 1/4-inch pieces or smaller.
  • For coarsely chopped fennel, cut 1/4-inch pieces or larger.

To Cut Fennel into Wedges:

  • Cut each fennel half lengthwise into two pieces to make quarters.
  • Cut away and discard the tough core portion from each quarter.
  • Slice the fennel lengthwise into wedges.

Try fennel wedges in our Fennel and Pear Chicken Thighs recipe

For Sliced Fennel:

  • Remove the tough core from the fennel half by cutting a wedge-shape piece from the top of the tough core through the bottom. Discard the core.
  • Place the bulb half, cut side down, on a cutting surface.
  • Using a chefs knife, slice the bulb lengthwise into thin strips.

Try sliced fennel in our Green Beans and Fennel recipe

How to Use Fennel

When you want to bring an aniselike flavor and crisp crunch to a recipe, you can use fennel much like you would celery:

And what about those pretty, bright-green fronds? A sprig on a plate makes a graceful garnish, while a few snipped leaves can add a fascinating licoricelike flavor to dishes.

Try it Yourself!

Now that you have all the info you need for chopping fennel, it's time to put it to use! Add it to salads, stir it into soups, and even transform fennel into a delicious, cheesy appetizer. If your dinner still needs a nutrition boost, try adding fennel as a new way to get everyone at your table to eat their veggies. If you do add fennel to a recipe, try saving a few of the fronds and sprinkling a couple of sprigs on top of your recipe for a garnish.

Try our Hot Fennel Cheese Dip recipe


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