Culinary Arts

A Guide to Dicing: How to Dice Tomatoes Without Making a Mess

Written by MasterClass

Jun 4, 2019 • 4 min read

When a recipe asks us to dice a tomato, we sometimes think of oozing seeds and the messy clean up on our kitchen counter. What if we told you there’s an easier way? With a few simple techniques and a little practice to sharpen your knife skills, you won’t break a sweat dicing tomatoes for a bowl of guacamole at your next backyard barbeque.

Close

What Is a Dice?

A dice is a basic knife cut in which food is cut into small cubes, much like the French brunoise cut. This may be done for presentation purposes or to create uniformly sized pieces for even cooking. Dicing helps flavors and textures to distribute evenly throughout a dish and allow for a quicker cooking time.

What's the Difference Between a Small, Medium, and Large Dice?

A dice refers to cutting food into cubes of a specific size. A small dice is cut into ¼-inch pieces and used in sauces, toppings, and condiments such as tomato relish. A medium dice is cut into ½-inch pieces and works well in chunky salsas and toppings. A large dice is cut into ¾-inch cubes and is best used in salads, stews, and soups.

What’s the Best Knife for Cutting Tomatoes?

Surprisingly, the best knife to cut a tomato isn’t a fancy chef’s knife or paring knife—it’s actually the same serrated knife we use to cut bread. Both bread and tomatoes have a tough exterior that protect soft insides. For that reason, it makes sense that using a sawing method with a serrated knife works well to cut through the tomato skin without squishing its delicate interior.

How to Dice Tomatoes in 5 Steps

  1. Place the tomato on its side and trim off any stems.
  2. Rotate the tomato top-side up and cut off the sides of the tomato, leaving the core.
  3. Set the core piece flat-side down on the cutting board and cut off the two remaining sides around the core. Discard the core.
  4. Make vertical, evenly spaced slices from each tomato piece. Choose to cut thick or thin strips based on how small or large you want the dice to be.
  5. Rotate tomato slices 90 degrees and slice in the opposite direction creating a dice.

How to Dice an Oblong Tomato

Dicing an oblong tomato, like a roma, doesn't require you to core the tomato before setting up the dice.

  1. Remove any stems by cutting off the top of the tomato.
  2. Cut the tomato in half length-wise.
  3. Place the tomato halves cut-side down for stability. Make vertical, evenly spaced slices in each tomato. Choose to cut thick or thin strips based on how small or large you want the dice to be.
  4. Rotate the slices 90 degrees and slice in the opposite direction creating a dice.

How to Seed a Tomato Before Dicing

Why do you need to seed a tomato? Tomato seeds and the gel-like area that surrounds them contains extra liquid that can affect the texture of a dish. The majority of a tomato’s flavor is in the red flesh and not in the seeds, so there's no harm—only gain—in taking the extra step to seed them.

To easily seed a tomato, first cut your tomatoes in half. Hold a tomato half over a bowl, and gently squeeze out the seeds, using a finger or small knife to scoop out the seed sacs and any excess liquid. You are now left with the perfect starting point to begin dicing your tomatoes.

12 Uses for Diced Fresh Tomatoes

  1. Pico De Gallo: In Mexican cuisine, pico de gallo, also called salsa fresca, is made from diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice.
  2. Grilled Pineapple Salsa: A tropical salsa with grilled diced pineapple, tomatoes, ginger, and minced jalapeno.
  3. Greek Tomato Salad: A combination of dice-cut tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, red wine vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil.
  4. Bruschetta: A classic Italian antipasto with ripe tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, served on toasted slices of crusty Italian bread.
  5. Tomato Relish: Small diced tomatoes combined with chopped red onions, minced jalapenos, and celery seeds are pickled in a red wine vinegar mixture to make a condiment perfect for hot dogs and burgers.
  6. Bacon-Endive Tomato Bites: Mix together diced tomatoes, chopped chives, and a champagne vinaigrette, spooned into endive leaves, and top with crumbled bacon bits.
  7. Turkey Chili: A healthy version of chili with ground turkey, fresh tomatoes, kidney beans, bell peppers, onion, garlic, tomato sauce, and chicken broth.
  8. Nachos Supreme: Tortilla chips loaded with ground beef, refried beans, shredded cheese, pickled jalapenos, black beans, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, and sour cream.
  9. Shrimp Tacos: Tacos with grilled shrimp, avocado crema, tomato salsa, and lime juice.
  10. Gazpacho: A classic Spanish soup made of puréed tomatoes, onions, cucumber, bell peppers, celery, herbs, garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.
  11. Spaghetti Vongole: Fresh clam pasta with tomatoes, fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, and garlic.
  12. Fresh tomato pizza: A simple pizza topped with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil leaves, and olive oil.

Become a better home cook with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by culinary masters including Chef Thomas Keller, Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck, and more.