For those of you who are just beginning to learn to cook, you are not alone. If you are learning to cook and trying to follow instructions for the first time, it can seem like a foreign language.

It is important that you know how to slice, dice, and mince vegetables correctly so that you can use them correctly in recipes. The right size and shape of the vegetables play a crucial role in recipes.

After a little instruction and practice, I hope that you will be comfortable with these techniques and will be able to tackle any recipe you choose.

Detailed instructions of Apronese hope that you will easily absorb and practice effectively.

Knife Skills: Slice, Dice, and Mince

How to Chop the “Right” Way

As far as I am concerned, there are many different methods for cutting an onion (or bell pepper, or sweet potato…). I am going to describe the one that works for me, but I think it is not the only way and it is not the “right” way, since I believe the “right” way varies from person to person.

As you use your knife more and more, you will become more comfortable with it, which will eventually lead you to find a technique that works well for you.

Throughout the lesson, I’ve included photos and videos of three different vegetables so you can see how you can apply the basic technique to various shapes and sizes of vegetables.

By doing so, you will have an understanding of how to handle anything from an eggplant to a rutabaga.

Tips Before You Begin:

  1. Make sure you have a sharp knife. Dull knives are more likely to slip, which can result in a knife accident (not fun), so invest in a knife sharpener to prevent the dull blades from becoming dulled as soon as possible.
  2. It is recommended that if you tend to have problems with your cutting board sliding across your work surface, then lay a thin damp rag on the work surface below your cutting board. This should help to secure it into place.
  3. A chef’s knife is an excellent tool for slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping vegetables, as it is big enough to slice through vegetables effortlessly, but small enough to keep a high level of control in your hand when using it. I recommend you use a chef’s knife that measures 8′′ or 10′′. You can buy a Victorinox 8′′ Chef’s Knife that will suit your hand size. I’m using a Victorinox 8′′ Chef’s Knife that I find perfect for this purpose.

How to Cut an Onion

Root end of a red onion being cut off

Step 1: Some people prefer to leave just one end of the onion intact so they can hold the onion pieces together while they slice them (this can be helpful especially if you are just starting), but I prefer to remove both ends if I am wearing a kitchen apron.
Onion being sliced in half
Step 2: As soon as the onion has been turned, just make sure the onion is seated firmly on one of the flat cut ends, then slice it in half, you should now be able to peel off the papery layers of the onion easily thanks to the various cut edges.
Onion half being sliced
Step 3: You should place the onion on one side of the larger flat cut side and then slice into strips, making sure to keep your fingers tucked as you cut to prevent them from becoming damaged.

It is important to remember to keep your finger tips tucked while you slice, since some people prefer to slice along the latitude of the onion, and I prefer to slice along the longitudinal direction.

If you slice in this direction, you will get straighter slices, while cutting in the other direction will result in half-round slices. You can decide which direction you will slice the onion based on your recipe or the way you want them to look.

How to Use Sliced Onions: When cooking with sliced onions, you’ll be able to bring out the flavor of the onion pieces throughout the dish. This includes roasting (Roasted Bratwurst with Peppers and Onions), sautéing (Fried Cabbage with Noodles), picking (Pickled Red Onions), and caramelizing (Pineapple Pork Hawaiian Burgers).
Red onion being diced
Step 4: Getting a precise cut between the onion slices is very easy to accomplish if you line up the slices correctly, turn 90 degrees, and cut across the slices with your knife.

This is where it can help to leave one end of the onion intact to hold the slices in place, but I personally just hold them in place by hand.

How to Use Diced Onions: There are a number of recipes that use diced onions, where you may want some texture without needing long pieces of the onion. This could include sautéing, (like Turkey Taco Skillet), making soups and chilis (like Chicken Lime Soup), and making salads (like Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad).
Red Onion being minced
Step 5: Using one hand on the tip end of the knife, you can create a fulcrum with your hands, and then move the knife back and forth with your other hand by rocking the knife back and forth, which will continue to chop the diced onion into smaller pieces (see the video above to see how this is done in action).

How to Use Minced Onion: It is very useful to use mince onions for recipes that call for onion flavor, but don’t want much, if any, texture. Mince onions are known for melting into any dish and often have an undetectable texture when they are cooked into any dish. There are several ways to use minced onions: in meatballs (Beef Kofta Meatballs), in hamburgers (Greek Turkey Burgers), in meatloaf (Cheeseburger Meatloaf), and in salsas (Ease Pineapple Salsa).

How to Cut a Bell Pepper

Bell pepper being sliced in half
Step 1: In order to cut the bell pepper in half, you need to cut it longitudinally (from top to bottom).
Seed pods being pulled out of the bell pepper
Step 2: Using a pair of tweezers, remove the seeds pods from the bell pepper, leaving any excess white flesh behind.
Bell pepper being sliced
Step 3:  Slice the bell pepper longitudinally along its length, starting at the top and finishing at the bottom. The skin side of the bell pepper is much more difficult to slice than the tough skin side, which may result in the knife slipping and unintentionally cutting the pepper.

How to Use Sliced Bell Pepper: Using sliced bell peppers for recipes provides a way for the pepper pieces to stay intact during cooking such as when they are roasted (Easy Oven Fajitas), stir-fried (Vegetable Lo Mein), or when the pieces should lay flat and remain in place, such as when they are used for sandwiches (Sriracha Chickpea Salad Wraps).
Bell Pepper being diced
Step 4:In order to dice the bell pepper, line up a few slices on a cutting board and turn them 90 degrees, then cut them into squares by cutting across each slice.
How to Use Diced Bell Pepper:The diced red bell peppers make a great addition to salads, stir fries, soups, and stews when you want to add a little crunch, but in bite-sized chunks. They’re perfect in salads like the Sesame Tuna Salad, stir fries like the Ground Turkey Stir Fry, and soups and stews like the One Pot American Goulash.

How to Cut a Sweet Potato

Sweet potato being peeled
Step 1: The sweet potato should be peeled.
Sweet potato being cut into rounds
Step 2: The sweet potato should be cut into rounds and you should remember to keep those finger tips tucked inside.

How to Use Sliced Sweet Potatoes: When a sweet potato will be the star of your dish, it’s good to slice the sweet potato. Sliced sweet potatoes can be roasted (Smoky Roasted Sweet Potatoes) or baked to showcase their flaky skin.
Sweet potato being cut into strips
Step 3: Stack a few sweet potatoes rounds on top of each other (for things like sweet potato fries, for example), then slice them into strips by stacking the rounds one on top of the other.
Sweet Potato being diced
Step 4: When you want to dice the sweet potatoes, you will need to line up a few strips, turn them 90 degrees and then cut them into cubes by cutting across the slices.

How to Use Diced Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes cooked in diced form are roasted faster than sweet potatoes cooked in strips or slices, so they’re a great addition to many dishes. I particularly love them in soups and stews (our favorite is West African Peanut Stew), roasted (Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes), and salads (Roasted Sweet Potato Rainbow Salad).
Sliced, diced, and minced red onion, bell pepper, and sweet potato

Apronese shares the above for you in a simple way, because cooking is a process, learning to cut and cook is not easy at all, if you find an easier and faster way, share it in the comments. let everyone know.