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There are many different types of knife cuts used in the culinary world. Some everyday cuts come in handy when you’re mincing garlic or dicing onions, while others, like a fine brunoise, can be reserved for garnishing a soup when you’re feeling extra fancy.

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Why You Should Know Basic Knife Cuts

While properly cut ingredients make dishes more visually appealing, another reason to learn basic knife cuts is to help your food cook uniformity. Larger pieces take more time to cook than smaller pieces of food. So if you have a tapered, oblong-shaped vegetable like a carrot and it's in your best interest to learn how to cut it in uniform pieces so that when you cook it, each piece cooks at the same rate.

How to Properly Shape Your Hands While Cutting

When using a chef’s knife, grip with the palm of your hand against the handle, while the thumb and index finger grip the top of the blade. It’s the most efficient way to have control of the knife while maximizing the strength from your arm, making for easier cutting.

The “bear claw” is the safest position for your guiding hand, which requires having your fingertips curled into a 90º angle with your finger tips pressing straight down, holding the food in place while your knuckles of your fingers gently lean against the blade of the knife. The hand that is holding the knife should rock forward and back cutting the food, while the guiding hand moves with the food, ensuring even slices.

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7 Tips for Cutting Vegetables

Watch Chef Gordon Ramsay bring these tips to life in his lesson on knife skills here.

  1. Use a sharp knife: When sharpening kitchen knives, make sure your thumb is behind the guard of the steel sharpener. Never expose your fingers to the blade.
  2. Use your knuckle as a guide: Don’t forget the three finger rule when slicing: one knuckle in front (your middle) and two behind.
  3. Relax your grip: When holding the knife handle, try to relax your grip and let the blade do the cutting.
  4. Rocking Motion: Move your knife in a rocking motion, from front to back and up and down.
  5. Keep your knife level: The knife should be at the same level as your elbows, so that your upper body can put pressure on the knife.
  6. Secure your cutting board: Make sure your cutting board is secure by sliding a kitchen towel underneath. This trick keeps the board in place if your work surface becomes wet.
  7. Start slow: Developing knife skills takes practice, so take your time to find your stride before adding speed.