We hate to break it to you, but every time you cook, you’ll be using a knife. So it’s best that you learn how to use one safely and efficiently! But don’t worry, the more practice you get, the more comfortable you’ll feel with using your knife, and the better you’ll be at cooking.
7 Tips to Show Your Knife Who’s Boss
Once you get the hang of using your knife properly, you’ll be saved from lots of frustration and chopping injuries, plus you’ll save on lots of time! But first, let’s go through 7 tips to help you get to know your knife better, and then you’ll be on your way to chopping like a pro.
1. Start with a sharp knife
Sharp knives are pretty darn scary. But did you know that sharp knives cause less injury than dull knives? That’s because when you have a dull knife, it makes it harder to slice through ingredients, which means the blade is more likely to slip off the food and hurt you.
A sharp knife, on the other hand, can cut swiftly through most ingredients without a lot of strain or pressure from you. Not only does this reduce potential injuries, it’ll also cut down on the chopping time. Keep knives sharp by taking them to a professional sharpener, using a honing steel between uses, and storing them on magnetic strip or a block. Remember: Never put them in the dishwasher!
2. create a stable surface
A lot of cutting boards don’t have a good grip on countertops. To make this cutting surface have more grip, fold a damp kitchen towel and put under the cutting board. You’ll see that the cutting board is now more stable, and it won’t slip and slide as you handle your sharp knife and round veggies!
3. Get the right grip on your knife
You want to be able to have the most control over your knife when you chop, so it’s important that you hold your knife properly. Don’t hold your knife at the back of the handle, because it won’t give you leverage over the blade. And holding your knife with your index finger pointed out also gives you less stability when chopping. The best way to get the right grip on your knife is to wrap your fingers around the knife where the blade and the handle meet, as if you were shaking someone’s hand. This is most stable way to hold your knife, and is perfect for safe and efficient chopping.
4. learn the most common chopping techniques
Before you start chopping away, it’s best to understand ways that you can chop ingredients. Keep in mind that the back of your knife is where most of the force comes from, so that’s where you want to keep the ingredients. In our Knife Basics 101 video below, we’ll show you how the proper way to execute 3 common chopping techniques.
5. protect your fingers while chopping
It’s normal to be scared of chopping your fingers off while using a knife, but there’s a way to prevent any of that from happening. Make a knuckle guard to protect your fingers by placing your fingertips on the ingredient, and then curling them up. Your knuckles will extend past your fingertips and act as a guide for your knife and keep your fingers safe from slicing.
6. create a flat surface
In a perfect world, all vegetables would have naturally flat edges, but unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect world, and most veggies are round and full of contours. Chopping against a round safe is challenging and not very safe, so think about how to create a flat base with the first cut, so that the ingredient will be easier to chop. You can then rest the ingredient on this flat base for safer and quicker chopping.
7. practice, practice, practice!
Even the greatest chefs were not born knowing how to use a knife properly. They all had to practice to get to where they are today. So like all the other skills in life, you have to practice to get better. Don’t get discouraged, though. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to chopping like a pro!
Knife Basics 101
This video shows you all the knife tips and skills to get you cooking like a pro in your own kitchen.
Videos to Put Your Knife Skills to the Test
We’ll get into more detail with prepping all kinds of produce in our Produce Prep section, but to help you get familiar with your knife, put your knife skills to practice with these videos.
The produce in these videos are sturdier and easier to work with, which will make it better for practice. They’re also readily available and pretty common in most dishes, so you won’t have to worry about practicing and wasting food. And if you really can’t use them up, put them into a plastic bag and freeze so you can make stock when you accumulate enough trimmings.
How to Slice an Onion
Learn the most efficient way to slice, dice, and chop onions so that your prep always goes smoothly.
How to Chop Carrots
Watch this video to learn our tips on how to best peel, chop, and dice carrots easily.
How to Dice Shallots
This short video shows you how easy it is to chop shallots, which lend a lot of flavor to your cooking.
How to Slice Celery
Watch how easy it is to slice celery with our short video.
How to Chop Cilantro or Parsley
Learn how to chop parsley using the 'pivot-and-fan' chopping technique with this short video.