Sharpen Your Skills: A New York Chef Teaches Us 9 Types of Knife Cuts

Updated 04/13/19

Few moments in the kitchen make us feel like we've just graduated from culinary school: our first successful scrambled eggs, a steak cooked to perfection, a perfectly balanced tomato sauce. But between all the chopping, seasoning, and stirring—do we actually know how to cut things to perfection? What if a recipe calls out for a chiffonade or a macédoine, do you know how to cut each ingredient to the highest culinary requirements? To demystify the different types of knife cuts, we tapped chef Nicolas Caicedo, executive chef at Harvey at The Williamsburg Hotel.

Meet The Expert

Nicolas Caicedo is executive chef at The Williamsburg Hotel.

But first, a few basics: "People do not hold their knives correctly," he tells us. "They do not use the correct knife for the cut they are trying to achieve, and they don't keep their knives sharp or well-maintained." So how should you hold your knife? "When cutting food, always place the ingredient in a stable position. There are a few different grips to choose from: The handle grip is used mostly by beginners or cooks with small hands; all fingers are tucked completely behind the bolster. More advanced cooks can use the blade grip—the thumb and forefinger rest in front of the bolster; this offers better control and balance."

Ready to sharpen your knife skills? Here are nine types of knife cuts to add to your arsenal.

Macédoine (or Small Dice)

Types of Knife Cuts—Macédoine
Lisovskaya/Getty Images

"This is my favorite knife cut. It says a lot about the chef and the kitchen. The cut is a small dice with a slice about 1/4 inch thick. It is mostly used for garnishing and allows for great exposure once plated, as it is the kind of knife cut that customers can see on a plate."

Dish example: Steak tartare

Best knife to use: A 6" chef's knife

Parmentier (or Medium Dice)

Types of Knife Cuts—Medium Dice
Courtesy of A Couple Cooks

"Parmentier is a French culinary term meaning medium dice. [Ed. note: It's also a really delicious French dish resembling a shepherd's pie.] The cut has sides measuring 1/2 inch."

Dish example: Potato salad

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife

Carré (or Large Dice)

Types of Knife Cuts—Carré
Courtesy of Hello Glow

"The large dice is easy to execute and is the perfect knife cut for stocks or soups. It's also the ideas cut for cutting fruits like melons and mangos."

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife


Types of Knife Cuts—Julienne
Courtesy of Stuck in the Kitchen

"Julienne translates to a French cut referring to a method of cutting long, thin strips. It's great for stir-fries."

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife


Types of Knife Cuts—Brunoise
LosInstantes/Getty Images

"This knife cut involves two steps. The food is first julienned, then cut into 1/8 inch cubes. For a fine brunoise, the cut would be smaller—diced into 1/16-inch cubes. This requires a lot of talent and precision."

Dish example: Cornichon aioli

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife


Types of Knife Cuts—Paysanne
Courtesy of Half Baked Harvest

"Paysanne translates to country style, resulting in a rougher, informal cut. It's great for on-the-fly family meals."

Dish example: Chicken soup

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife


Types of Knife Cuts—Chiffonade
Courtesy of The Modern Proper

"This is a slicing technique that results in long, thin strips. It's typically used on leafy vegetables like basil, mint, and romaine lettuce."

Dish example: Spring cobb salad

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife

Rough Chop

Types of Knife Cuts—Rough Chop

"This is a prep cook's favorite cut, as it is a cut that allows a cook to get to know the knife. It results in a cut that is typically 3/4 to 1 inch thick."

Quick Tip

Use a rough chop cut to prep potatoes, onions, or peppers.

Dish example: Roast broccoli salad

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife


Types of Knife Cuts—Mince
Courtesy of A Couple Cooks

"The mince is a very small dice, usually 1/4 inch thick. It's most commonly used on garlic, onions, shallots, or ginger."

Dish example: Ginger lime hummus

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife

Sharpen Your Skills

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Misen Chef’s Knife $65
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Shun Classic 6" Chef's Knife $163 $130

And now, an illustrated guide to cutting everything (and which knife to use).

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