Proper knife skills are at the core of any chef—professional or not. Once you’ve mastered the four main types of cuts, meal prep will be a breeze. Not only will you have more confidence in the kitchen, but you’ll have more fun, too. 

How to Hold a Knife

Skillshare instructor and Plated Head Chef Elana Karp demonstrates how to properly hold a knife for chopping.
Skillshare instructor and Plated Head Chef Elana Karp demonstrates how to properly hold a knife for chopping.

First things first: Proper knife grip is important. Let’s break it down:

Pinch the end of the blade between your thumb and pointer finger. Then, wrap the rest of your fingers around the knife’s handle. This gives you full control of the knife. Your other hand, the one holding the item you’re cutting, should be in the “bear claw” position with your fingers bent at the first knuckle to prevent injuries.

How to Slice

When you slice something, you’re cutting it into similar-sized pieces, whether it’s cake or celery. 

First, ensure you’ve got the proper grip. Then, with the tip of the knife on the cutting board, practice a rocking and pushing motion. Gradually, inch closer to your other hand as you slice into the object, never taking the tip of the knife off of the board.

Slice celery using a pushing and pulling motion.
Slice celery using a pushing and pulling motion.

How to Dice

While you would slice a cake, you wouldn’t dice it—which means to cut it into square pieces or cubes. So, you dice an onion or a potato. 

Dicing an onion is one of the more difficult cuts, but once mastered, it will never make you cry again! First, remove the root and cut the onion in half lengthwise. Peel off the skin and place the flat side down on your board. With your palm on the top, cut two horizontal lines into the onion without going all the way through. Then, make cuts vertically down the onion starting near the root. Turn the onion and, using the same rocking motion from slicing, start cutting. You’ll have the perfect dice!

Plated Head Chef Elana Karp dices an onion.
Plated Head Chef Elana Karp dices an onion.

How to Julienne

When a recipe asks you to julienne something—like bell peppers or root vegetables—they’re referring to making long, equal strips. 

To julienne a pepper, start by slicing the four “walls” of the pepper off. Then, one piece at a time, make thin, even cuts from the bottom to the top of each section.

Julienning a pepper.

How to Mince

Another common request in recipes is to mince garlic. But how do you make something that’s already so small even smaller? Well, you mince it.

Place a clove of garlic on your board and put the widest part of the knife on top. Make a fist and carefully pound down on the flat side of the blade until the clove is slightly crushed. Remove the outer skin and start to roughly chop. Push your chopped garlic into a pile and place your unused hand on the tip of the knife to weigh it down. Rock the knife back and forth over the garlic until it’s your desired size. 

Skillshare instructor and Plated Head Chef Elana Karp minces garlic.
Skillshare instructor and Plated Head Chef Elana Karp minces garlic.

Want to Expand Your Kitchen Knowledge?

Knife Skills: A Mini Class to Chop Like a Chef .