how to julienne

I enjoy chopping things but have no notable knife skills, no tuck, no game, but no shame either. I’ve always found julienning fruits and vegetables to be difficult, just a lot of very precise cutting that’s not going to come easily to someone who didn’t mince their way through hours of knife skills class in cooking school. When a recipe wants me to julienne something, I sign, inwardly groan and usually take out either this slicer and then spend 32 minutes looking for the julienne blade or I use this peeler, which is fantastic but limited to long skinny strands.

Here’s my a-ha moment: If you can slice a vegetable, you can julienne:

how to julienne

Take any fruit or vegetable. Slice it thinly on the diagonal.

how to julienne

Stack a handful of the slices at a time and slice them thinly again into matchsticks — the long way for longer strips, the short way for shorter strips.

how to julienne

That’s it! It’s so quick, easy and requires not a single extra consideration when chopping that I don’t even bother with my julienne slicer anymore.

Now, go forth and make all of the Quick Zucchini Saute and Sesame Soba.

Smitten Kitchen Tips, A Reintroduction: Prior to the redesign, I collected my favorite cooking tips in a side blog that basically nobody ever saw, which was a shame as what if you needed to make your own baking powder, buttermilk substitute, brown sugar or cake flour, or to use a kitchen scale and ditch your measuring cups/spoons forever? I was there to help all along! As part of the redesign, I wanted to fold them back onto this main page and feed. Posts are denoted as tips (vs. recipes, announcements or notes) on the tag over the top photos.

All cooking tips (and recipes, to be honest) can go three ways: 1. “Whoa, I’d never considered that before. Thank you!” 2. “Hmm, that’s interesting! But, I’m perfectly happy doing things the way I’ve always been doing them.” 3. “Duh! Everyone knows this. I’ve been doing things this way forever.” I’m throwing this out there because I’ve been having a debate with myself over whether my julienning breakthrough is just some bit of common sense everyone has that had (see: 3) previously eluded me or whether it is for others what it was for me (see: 1). For the sake of this and all tips, let’s pretend the latter.

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83 comments on how to julienne

  1. TreaclePie

    In the ‘duh, does everyone already know this?’ category might well be my technique for dicing firm veg, like zucchini or carrots etc. That it, slice through the veg lengthways, keeping the ends attached, in parallel lines. Then rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Then you just slice off the ends and they turn into magical fine diced veg. My ex’s mother almost fell off her chair when she watched me do this, so maybe not so common?

    1. @treaclepie – I learned how to do that with onions, but it never occurred to me to do it with anything else! So definitely in the “Whoa, I’d never considered that before. Thank you!” category for me.

    2. veronica

      Hi Treaclepie,

      Would Love To do do julienne like you but haven’t quite inderstood how. Could you give another try explaining?


  2. Iman

    Another way to speed up your process, which I used at work all the time, is instead of stacking them, I lay them out overlapping in a long row on my cutting board. That way I can cut more in one shot. :)

  3. Jodi

    I do that too. Could be common sense, could be GMTA. :)

    I dice onions the same way as FlutesForks. I learned that trick watching Julia Child on TV.

  4. Jacqueline

    Wow, do I feel a bit stupid. I never considered doing it this way! This looks so much easier than what I was doing and I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks!

  5. heirloomrosebud

    How have I never thought of this before? XD I’m definitely a #1 at the moment. THANK YOU. My gosh. My life just got easier x infinity.

  6. Love this one! This is actually how I’ve always “julienned” and frankly didn’t realize there was another, more proper way to do it… Julienned cucumbers are one of my favorite garnishes.

  7. Barbara E Qualls

    While this is the way I have done stuff for years, I am OLD and learned the hard way about this. I think it is perfect that you took the time and energy to educate others on what can be a daunting task. I will throw out there that although all food processors indicate they can do this, none (as far as I can tell) do a decent job of it. Thanks Deb.

  8. Nechama Sarah

    Hello Deb
    Beside loving your recipes and dialog, just a couple things. The “Search” option in upper right corner does not work correctly. Also, when I searched for “Tips” up came recipes. I rather prefer tips being in one place, but you could make it more prominent, as you do with spring/summer/fall/winter. Another box could feature a pic of something like, scissors or a scale, etc. it just makes sense that someone looking for a particular tip could go to a particular place to find them. You were right the first time around, it just wasn’t visibly inviting. Much love to you and family.

  9. Debbie Eliahu

    It’s even easier to julienne – especially harder vegetables like carrots – if you fan them out a bit rather than stack them.
    Another Debbie

  10. I’m in the #1category. I do slice vegetables on the diagonal a lot, but I didn’t consider carrying it further to make the little matchsticks. See, I have something quite portable that will julienne whatever veggie I want. All I need to do is say: Hey, Honey, I need these veggies julienned. He is very hand with a knife — much better than me. I’d fail the knife portion in the CIA whereas he’d ace it. But your tip is very handy in case he’s fishing or mowing the lawn and I need some matchstickes. I love reading your blog — you always make me smile. :-)

  11. Sue from Pleasanton

    Dear Deb, your tips ALWAYS ARE WELCOME! Just because I’ve got a mandolin tucked away above the fridge, I may not want to bring it out for a small bit of julienned veg, so your careful description of method is a good reminder (and often a complete surprise along the line of “Well, dang, why didn’t I think of that!”)

  12. JP

    Yup, this is how I do it, and my favorite is with radishes because when cut this way they make a pretty garnish for a salad. Thanks for the reminder.

  13. Kris Ness

    I have little patience for the julienne. Quick tip: find a husband who loves to do it (I did…sooo lucky, plus he’s not that into watching every sports game), and in a pinch watch him do just what you ordered…bias cut on the vegetable and then the long cut.

  14. Sandra

    If you have to write a disclaimer about whether or not this will be considered educational information or not, I think you already have your answer.

  15. kemi

    This is the way I’ve always done it as it’s the way I saw my mother doing it growing up. I always thought it was the “stupid” way of doing it because it’s still so tedious for me and it still takes me absolutely FOREVER. (True story: I once spent a few hours julienning a couple cups of carrots and then mentally smacked myself when I realized I could’ve just bought pre-julienned carrots in the first place.) Nowadays I either buy precut or bust out my frequently-used julienne peeler. How do you deal with the slices sliding around as you’re trying to cut them into strips?

  16. tj

    …Hello Miss Smitten, thank you for the tutorial! I rarely julienne anything but it’s helpful to know. :o)

    …I do have a question regarding the type of knives you use. I’m in the market for new kitchen knives and I don’t want overkill, I just want a few nice knives. Any suggestions? Thank you!

    …Peace & blessings. :o)

    1. deb

      I have a few different knives. My favorite is my Global chef’s knife, a big Japanese brand that’s not hideously expensive. Taken care of, it lasts ages. It’s not hard to care for. There are two main camps of chef’s knives, German and Japanese style. Neither is correct, it’s just personal preference. I am 1000% a nonexpert in knives. It’s worth it to go to a store that sells both, find a knowledgeable staff member that will let you hold them in your hand and can explain the pros/cons of each. Here is where I want to say that I find that Japanese knives get sharper because the blade is thinner but I cannot because people will yell at me that I’m just sharpening my German knives wrong, and they’re probably right. :)

  17. I love this introduction of tips also the redo of your muffin recipe. You have so many great recipes that i think doing that as part of the regular content feed is awesome. Thanks for always providing us with great stuff!

  18. thank you, thank you, thank you!!! i have NEVER understood how to do this properly, and this makes so much sense and is absolutely brilliant! i for one think that food tastes so much better when it’s pretty to look at, so thank you for helping me make mine pretty!

  19. ellabee

    Could I suggest that you add a ‘Tips’ category to the excellent list that now shows up under the Recipes tab? I had julienning in hand (more or less this method), but know there are others that would surprise and delight me. Thanks in advance!

    1. deb

      Yes, I agree it would be helpful there. Due to the way this site is organized, it probably won’t work (I’ll spare you the details) but I might create a new tab for TIPS (or drop it under MORE) if we think it’s best there.

      1. ellabee

        Thanks, Deb! The ‘More’ tab is where I looked when I didn’t see a ‘Tips’ tag among the recipe categories, so seems like a great place for them.

  20. EMR

    Great suggestion this: “….. I rather prefer tips being in one place, but you could make it more prominent, as you do with spring/summer/fall/winter. Another box could feature a pic of something like, scissors or a scale, etc. it just makes sense that someone looking for a particular tip could go to a particular place to find them. You were right the first time around, it just wasn’t visibly inviting.”

    A tips column,tab, or link next to recipes or included in the more tab would be so so so helpful!!!

    1. deb

      This can be done. The TIPS tag will appear over the top photo (i.e. like a scissor icon, but not an icon) whenever it is a TIPS post vs. RECIPES or ANNOUNCEMENTS so if you’re heading to the main page, you’ll always know if it’s something you want to read.

  21. Elise

    You seem to be soliciting feedback, so here goes…

    If I had to choose between a post with a new recipe versus a post with a technique, new recipes would always win.

    However, I recognize that recipe posts can take a lot more time to develop and I’ll settle for a tip post over none at all. I very much appreciate that your tip posts seem to come more from the posture of “I discovered this mind-blowing tip maybe you’d enjoy it too” than as material filler.

    This is my favorite blog (food or otherwise) because of your genuineness, humility and humor, which make even posts containing tips that I already know (or could find elsewhere) pleasures to read.

    1. deb

      Thanks for the feedback. And thank you. To answer your concerns, you’ll never have to choose between recipes and tips. Tips aren’t filler. They’re in different cycles; there’s a new tip when there’s a new tip I must urgently share, a new recipe when I’ve cooked something I want to share, usually 1 to 2 times a week, usually 2.

      Tips are usually things I find to be too useful not to share, like, it actually burdens me to keep it to myself. I had planned to refresh the Quick Zucchini Sauté in the archives last week but couldn’t in good conscience until I had a side post (this) about how much easier it can be to julienne with this new method. It wasn’t helpful for me to bury this information in the recipe, because then I’d have to reference the recipe every time I mentioned julienneing in the future, which is a messy way to do it. (“In the 2nd paragraph of this 2007 recipe, I share my julienne technique as of 2016,” etc.) Previously, the recipe was mostly only made by people with exceptional julienneing skills (not many) or those that had a special slicer.

  22. Clara

    Thank you so much for posting this. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this for myself. With all the recipes out there now for spiral cut vegies, and I have decided not to buy a spiralizer, I decided to julienne things instead. Now I will go at julienning things with abandon.

  23. Gerley

    Remember that one time you told us how you use broccoli WITH the stems and that you put the florets on your board cut the little stem and then pull the rest apart with fingers?!
    Yeah so that changed my life. Definitely tell us anything and everything you know. And maybe make that broccoli one an extra tip, seachable and all cause that is just brilliant and everyone needs to know how to waste so little broccoli.

    Can I also, again, plead, beg, whine etc for you to add weights in your recipes?
    I made the “summers last hurrah” panzella and I was frantically trying to research how much German bread was needed to make 6 chopped cups of French bread sold in US supermarkets- and Google was no help at all. Bread flour yes, breadcrumbs yes.. cubed bread? Not a chance!
    Even just aproximations would be insanely helpful for conversion.

    1. deb

      I am slowly adding weights to all recipes in the archives. With 1000+, this is taking forever. If you ever see a recipe you want me to get to first, leave a comment on it (such as the panzanella) and I will get to it first, often within a day. Hope that helps. And thanks!

  24. Vincenza

    If anything, as a recent college grad who has been coming to your website for baking recipes for years and has only just started planning meals and cooking more challenging recipes, the tips are a great help! Any website that just simply lays out how you acquire basic cooking skills instead of just assuming you know is much appreciated.

  25. Sowmya

    Hey Deb,

    While on this topic I wanted to know how you get those long potato strands for fritters, kugel etc. using your food processor. I believe we have the same processor but I guess am not using mine right. You mention a couple of times in your recipes that you grate the potato “on the side” which I never really understood (From your kugel recipe: “Switch to grating blade and grate potatoes — I like to do this one their sides, for the longest strands.”). May be a visual might help? Thank you!

  26. Drew F

    I first saw this way of julienne in a video by Korean YouTuber Maangchi about making kimchi (wherein you have to julienne like 100 pounds of vegetables). As another note from that video: if you only partially stack/kinda fan the slices out you can just keep cross cutting them all the way down the line and get it all done REAL fast! I’ll see if I can find her video to link when I get home because it’s better when you see it…

  27. Jane

    I just tried cutting sweet potatoes in this manner for sweet potato noodles. I’ve been thinking about purchasing a spiralizer. After julienning 3 sweet potatoes, I’ve decided I don’t need the spiralizer. My chef knife takes up less space and creates no waste. I used a mandolin to create the original slices then julienned them.

  28. csandraa

    Basically, I follow via Instagram and Pinterest. Recently, I got their website. This website is really perfect for the women as well as chef’s. It’s easy to know about recipes from here.
    Anyways, I also made Julienne. But most of the people don’t use a sharp knife. As a result, they can’t do it quickly.

  29. nance ebert

    Hi Deb,
    I would like to order one of your new cookbooks but I would like it to be personalized/signed by you.
    Is this something that can be done?
    Thank you, in advance, for your response.
    Nance Ebert

    1. deb

      Absolutely. First, there will be a book tour so depending on where you live (we will have all the details organized by Labor Day, I hope, and be ready to announce the tour) so there could be a chance for me to sign it in person (ee). Second, I worked with a local bookstore last time for custom signed cookbooks (you could request any inscription you’d like) and plan do to the same this time. More details soon; we’ll be using a different store this time.