If thinking about all the different ways you can cut food has your head spinning, have no fear! Our handy guide will help you differentiate between mincing, dicing, julienning, and more. We'll teach you how to make each cut, right down to which knives you can use for each (though a chef's knife is a safe bet for all).
You might use chopping as a catchall term for whenever you're cutting up food, but it's actually a specific method.To chop, grasp a cleaver or chef's knife with one hand; rest the other hand on the top front for control. Then cut your food into small, medium, or large irregular pieces. Chopping is meant for foods that can't be cut into uniform pieces, so don't stress if all your pieces look different.
Mincing is about as tiny as you can get when it comes to cutting food. To mince, finely chop your ingredient into very small pieces using the same technique as for chopping. You'll often find this technique called for in garnishes or sautés, when ingredients should almost disappear into a sauce. You'll probably find yourself mincing garlic the most often, but you might also come across recipes that call for minced onion or minced root veggies.
Julienning might sound fancy, but with a sharp chef's knife at your disposal it's totally doable. To julienne, first slice food into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Stack and cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips. To julienne rounded items, take a slice off the bottom (to flatten) so the food doesn't move as you chop. Usually you julienne veggies to add to sandwiches, salads, or wraps, but you can also sauté them in a stir-fry.
It might take some practice to master the perfect dice, but once you do it'll make recipes like stir-frys a whole lot easier. To dice, cut food into slices, then cut evenly and squarely into 1/8- to 1/4-inch cubes. When you're dicing you might want to start by julienning your food, which will make it easier to dice everything into uniform squares.
Cubing is pretty self-explanatory—just cut your food into cubes! But unlike dicing, cubing is a larger square cut. Use a chef's knife to cut foods into uniform pieces that are about 1/2 inch on all sides. Cheese cubes are probably the first thing that comes to mind, but it's also pretty common to cube large veggies like squash before cooking.
Usually you cut foods like apples and onions into wedges. Cut round foods like those in half before you start cutting them into thin, half moon-shape wedges. Then cut your food at an angle with the flat side down on a cutting board. You can use this technique to make fruits like apples and peaches easier to snack on or to cut onions for adding to soups or roasts.