Sharpen Your Skills: A New York Chef Teaches Us 11 Types of Knife Cuts

Updated 04/13/19
Plate of meats, fresh produce, and herbs

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? And most importantly, do you want to? To demystify the different types of knife cuts, we tapped chef Nicolas Caicedo, executive chef at Harvey at The Williamsburg Hotel to show us the ropes.

Meet The Expert

Nicolas Caicedo is executive chef at The Williamsburg Hotel.

First, How to Hold Your Knife

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."

Additionally, always remember to work on a sturdy cutting board, keep your eye on the blade, and keep hands and wrists relaxed and let the blade do the cutting. Move your knife in a rocking motion, and up and down, and should be positioned at the same height as or just below elbows for comfort and efficiency.

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

Macédoine (or Small Dice)

Steak tartare on a wooden platter with salt and pepper vessels
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

Batonnet

Glazed carrots in batonnet cut
Jessica Gavin

Known also as the precursor to the medium dice cut (more on that below), the batonnet cut creates rectangular sticks that are thicker than your julienne cut (or "matchstick" cut.)

Dish example: Glazed carrots

Best knife to use: A 8" chefs knife

Parmentier (or Medium Dice)

Platter of sweet potato salad demonstrates parmentier (medium dice) knife cutting technique
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)

Mango salsa demonstrates carré knife cutting technique (large dice)
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 ideal cut for cutting fruits like melons and mangos."

Best knife to use: A 8" chef's knife

Julienne

Beetroot and carrot salad demonstrates julienne cut
Courtesy of Stuck in the Kitchen

Also known as the allumete knife cutting technique, "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

Fine Julienne

This cut is just like the julienne, only finer, as the name implies. It's also the smallest rectangular log cut.

Dish example: Candied lemon zest

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

Brunoise

Cornichon aioli demonstrates brunoise knife cut
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

Paysanne

Bowl of chicken soup demonstrates paysanne knife cut
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

Chiffonade

Spring cobb salad demonstrates chiffonade knife cut
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

Roasted broccoli salad demonstrates rough chop knife cutting technique

"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."

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

Mince

Ginger lime hummus demonstrate mince knife cutting technique
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

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