How to Shred Any Vegetable You Bring into Your Kitchen
Whether shredding a head of cabbage for coleslaw or preparing potatoes for breakfast hash browns, knowing how to shred vegetables properly is key for some of our favorite recipes. By definition, to shred in cooking means to push food across or through a shredding surface to make long, narrow strips. To finely shred means to make long, thin strips. Most vegetables can be shredded with a box grater, a hand grater, or a food processor; however, cabbage, lettuce, and other leafy greens can be easily shredded with a knife. Here you'll learn the best ways to shred carrots, greens, and all other veggies.
How to Shred Carrots and Other Nonleafy Vegetables
Use the following steps to know how to shred carrots, potatoes, beets, and other root vegetables. You'll also be able to shred cucumbers, asparagus, zucchini squash, yellow summer squash, and other nonleafy vegetables.
- Thoroughly wash your vegetables.
- Peel the vegetables, if needed. With the exception of radishes, most root vegetables, such as carrots, onions, turnips, jicama, and celery root, are usually peeled before shredding. Use a vegetable peeler ($9, Target) to remove the outer skin of the vegetable. You may want to peel cucumbers if the outer skin is tough; leave asparagus and summer squash (such as zucchini and yellow squash) unpeeled.
- Slide the vegetable over the large holes on the shredding surface of a box grater ($17, Amazon) or a plane grater, starting from the top of the grating surface and moving the vegetable to the bottom of the grater. To finely shred the vegetable, use the same method using the smaller holes of the box grater or use a plane grater with small holes.
Test Kitchen Tip: As the vegetable you're grating becomes smaller, it's easy to shred skin from your fingertips or knuckles (ouch!) if they get too close to the shredding surface. Once the vegetable has been shredded down to a small piece, cut this remaining piece by hand into small strips using a sharp knife ($16, Target). This will help you use the grater without cutting yourself. You can also buy a cut-resistant glove ($11, Amazon) to protect your hand.
How to Shred Kale Other Leafy Greens
Yes, you can shred lettuce at home and there's no need for a grater. Here’s how to shred lettuces that have loose (rather than tightly packed) leaves; these include romaine, butterhead, red lettuce, and green leaf lettuce. These instructions also apply to other leafy greens, such as kale, napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage, Swiss chard, escarole, turnip greens, and other sturdy leafy greens:
How to Shred Cabbage and Iceberg Lettuce
Leave your grater in the drawer! The best way to shred cabbage and iceberg lettuce (round vegetables with tightly packed leaves) is with your trusty chef's knife. Get the step-by-step instructions for shredding cabbage and lettuce here.
Tools for Shredding
Either will work, but each has its advantages. While the box grater offers more functions, the plane grater ($20, Crate & Barrel) takes up less room in your kitchen and can be easily tucked into a drawer.
- Box Graters: This simple, inexpensive piece of equipment is four tools in one. It usually has a grating surface, a shredding surface with large holes, a shredding surface with small holes, and a slicing surface.
- Plane Graters: These are composed of one shredding surface (such as a fine-hole or large-hole surface) attached to a handle.
Shredding Vegetables in a Food Processor
You can also use a food processor ($50, Target) fitted with a shredding blade to shred vegetables. Follow the directions given by the manufacturer. Our Test Kitchen does not recommend shredding vegetables in a blender, as blenders chop the food into short, small, uneven pieces rather than shredding them into long, narrow, uniform strips.
Shredded Vegetable Math
Carrots, cabbage, and other greens are often used by the cupful in recipes. Here's a guide to estimate how much of each vegetable you'll need to shred for each cup:
- Carrots: 1 medium carrot equals ½ cup shredded carrot.
- Potatoes: 1 medium potato equals about 1 cup shredded potato.
- Round Cabbage: One 2-pound head equals 12 cups shredded cabbage.
- Napa Cabbage: One 2-pound head equals 12 cups shredded leaves and sliced stems.
- Savoy Cabbage: One 1¾-pound head equals 12 cups coarsely shredded cabbage.
- Iceberg Lettuce: One 1¼-pound head equals 12 cups shredded lettuce.
Best Vegetables for Shredding
Here are some of the most common ways in which shredded vegetables are used in recipes:
- Raw Vegetables for Salads: Some vegetables such as carrots, jicama, turnips, celery root, cucumbers, and zucchini can be tough to eat in their raw form unless they're cut into small pieces. Shredding them breaks them into softer bits that are easier to eat.
- Lettuce for Sandwiches and Tacos: Shredded spinach, leaf lettuce, and iceberg lettuce add great texture to tacos and sandwiches.
- Sturdy Greens for Salads: Raw hefty greens, such as Swiss chard, turnip greens, and escarole, are usually too coarse to eat in large pieces. Shred them before adding to other salad greens.
- Carrots and Zucchini for Baking: Carrots and zucchini are often made into baked treats, such as carrot cake or zucchini bread. You'll need to shred these vegetables before adding them to the recipe.
- Cabbage for Coleslaw: Cabbage is the quintessential ingredient in a traditional coleslaw, though other shredded veggies, such as carrots, onions, jicama, and asparagus, can also be used. Use a sprinkling of finely shredded raw radishes and other colorful veggies to garnish dishes such as party dips.
- Potatoes for hash browns: If you’re craving hash browns with your bacon and eggs, get out the shredder! Or try a creative take on latkes with this mochi version (pictured above).