Written By: Courtney Kerr

Knife skills are the building blocks for any chef and at-home cook. Using a chef knife properly and safely is essential to becoming comfortable in the kitchen. For many at-home cooks, we might wonder why knife skills are necessary. Having excellent knife skills helps with speed, uniformity, and safety.

  1. Speed– Having excellent knife skills cuts down the time to make dinner for the family
  2. Uniformity– Having consistent and uniform cuts provides even cooking time as the shape and size determine the cooking time of a food. If pieces are not the same size, some items may be cooked while others may still be crunchy or mushy.
  3. Safety- As scary as this may seem, a sharp nice is a safe knife. Having a dull knife in the kitchen can cause severe injuries, from cutting one’s hand to injuries within the wrist.

How to Hold a Knife?

One way to hold a knife is by firmly grasping the handle like you are shaking hands with the knife. Another way to hold a knife is by pinching the blade with your thumb and pointer finger and hold the handle with the rest of your fingers. This will give you more control of the edge. Next, hold the food item you’re cutting with your other hand. Tuck in your thumb and hold the food item with the tips of your fingers curled under so that the knuckles align up against the blade. This will prevent you from cutting your fingertip or thumb.

Basic Knife Cuts to Practice

Slice – Cutting an item into uniform, thin pieces.

Dice – Cutting an item into cubes of uniform sizes.

Rough Chop – You don’t have to be as careful about things being uniform in size. Items that you are going to eat raw can be roughly chopped like vegetables that you are throwing into a salad.

Mince – Cutting an item similar to dice but smaller and still uniform

Julienne or match stick – Cutting an item into a rectangle, then into slices and finally into sticks. Julienne is a very thin matchstick. 

Chiffonade – This means shreds. You get shreds by rolling leaves up like a cigar and slicing through the roll. This is mostly used for herbs.

How to Dice an Onion

For more information about knife skills check out

or watch this video on knife skills

Remember – practice makes perfect!