Before I discovered the value of having sharp quality knives and knowing the proper way to cut things, I dreaded having to do food prep. Once I had the right tools and some key knife-cutting tips, I enjoyed cooking and even looked forward to it.
Consider me a case study on learning knife skills. It was legendary in my family how bad I was at cutting things up. Learning a few basic knife techniques is all it took, along with practice and patience before I felt comfortable using my knives.
Sharp, well-balanced knives are the first step for easy cutting. They require less pressure and offer more control while chopping, slicing, dicing and mincing. Once you’ve got that you’re already ahead of the game.
The guide hand is probably more important than the hand holding the knife. For safety, it’s imperative that your fingers are kept out of harm’s way. The bridge grip works best for cutting round foods in half or quarters. It literally creates a bridge over the food to hold it secure and keep your fingers away from the sharp blade. More common is the claw grip where your fingers are curled under, creating a claw that rests on the food you’re cutting. This hold is good for when you’re slicing and dicing.
After you’re positioned your guide hand, situate yourself so you’re looking over the top of what you’re cutting and use a forward and down motion with the knife. Remember, it’s not a race so take your time. Learning good knife skills is like learning to write your name. Over time, with practice, it almost becomes automatic.
Some key things to remember:
- Practice, practice, practice.
- Go slow and concentrate on accuracy first.
- A sharp knife is a safe knife.
- Maintain your knives for smooth cutting every time.
- Use edge-friendly surfaces.
Follow these basic beginner knife cutting tips for safer and more enjoyable cutting.
Knife Cutting Tips
The Guide Hand - For safety, the position of the guide hand is important.
- Bridge grip - Position your thumb and fingers over the ingredient creating an arch. Hold the food firmly, and place the knife underneath your hand onto the food to begin the cut.
*This is a good hold for cutting round foods into halves or quarters.
- Claw grip - Make a claw with your guide hand, by slightly curling your fingers and tucking your hand behind them. With fingertips out of the way, the knife edge can rest against the knuckles.
*This is a good hold for slicing and dicing foods.
The Knife - Look directly over the top of what you’re cutting so you can easily see what is happening.
- Positioning - To start cutting, place the knife on the food about ½" from the knife tip.
- The motion - Use a forward and down motion to push the blade away from you.