Cutting peppers for different dishes can not only enhance the visual appearance of your meal but also can add functionality to the dish depending on its use. The common uses are to stuff, roll, dip, raw, sauté, grilled, fry or stir fry your peppers and if not cut properly for the purpose of use it can cause problems in your presentation, palate, and cooking of the finished dish.
The way you cut a pepper for a dish depends on the dish you are making and in this lesson you will have 9 ways, each with an explanation of why it was cut that way and how it will make your dish not only taste good but also look inviting to eat.
Many do not take into account the aspect of cutting a pepper for its use since it seems so simple but when you wonder why your pepper was too soft or hard, over powering or no flavor and maybe pierced through the wrapping?? Here is the why. How you cut them plays a very important role on how they cook and function in your dish. Didn’t you always wonder why a chef cuts it so many ways?? It is not only for the looks of it. So….let’s get cutting some peppers 🙂
You will want to know how to clean the peppers first and have them ready to go before you do these steps. To learn how to properly clean a pepper go here Bell Pepper Cleaning and Prep
Things You Will Need:
(I have listed many knifes here but each will be explained for its use)
Pairing Knife (small intricate cutting)
Boning Knife (paper thin slicing) usually used for deboning but the flexibility of this knife is perfect for thin cutting
Santoku Knife (dicing or chopping)
Chef’s Knife (wide cuts)
The main picture shows the cuts I use most often and there are 9 ways displayed. Each will be explained with the use that cut is for.
1. Salad Cut (Top Row Far Left Corner on Main Picture)
This cut is for salads mostly, hence the name, it is easier to cut into for those who cut their salads and more friendly to the mouth for biting while still giving enough flavor to your salad.
How To Cut;
Using a chef’s knife, cutting on the flesh side of the pepper piece, making long cuts from top of the pepper piece to the bottom. Slice ¼ inch thick pieces. Can be then cut in half if you so choose.
2. Thin Julienne Cut (Top Row Center on Main Picture)
The idea of this cut is it allows for flex of the pepper and the quick baking capabilities but also can be used for the presentation of your dish to give contrast and color. Add a few of these under a nice rice pilaf in a fan arrangement it will add flavor and contrast to the finished dish also being thin enough that the heat of the rice would warm them nicely for serving
- Sandwich wraps – it allows for easy bite and flexibility also does not over power in flavor
- Rolls – Chicken stuffed roll ups or steak roll ups that are baked with this in the filling
- Wrapped Vegetables – To wrap around other vegetables before broiling for appetizers
- Topping for burgers without causing harm to the bun or over power in flavor
How To Cut;
Using a boning knife, cutting on the flesh side of the pepper piece. Cut in long one swipe cuts starting at the top of the piece and working downward. You should be able to see your knife tip going through the pepper almost translucent but still having some thickness to it. ⅛ thick should be the maximum. The boning knife is used since the tip is flexible and allows a nice smooth uninterrupted cut while having it held easier in your hand to control and see where you are cutting. We do not want accidents ouch!
3. Small Angle (Top Row Far Right on Main Picture)
This cut is perfect for some stir fry’s where you do not want the taste of the pepper to take over the dish also when making small side salad so the fork can easily grab a piece. This cut makes it easier to cook as well as gives a level of esthetics to the finished dish. Dresses it up and gives great finished presentation.
- Stir Fry – When you do not want the larger chunks and abundant pepper flavor also gives appealing definition to the finished dish
- Small Dinner Salad – I use this for side salads so the fork can easily grab it
- Frittata’s – Bakes and cooks well in the dish and gives definition to the finished dish with the beautiful angles
How To Cut;
Using a pairing knife or chef’s knife, Start at the top working your way down to the bottom of the pepper piece on the flesh side – cutting ¼ inch pieces or even a tad thicker if you are baking with it. Place one slice on its side and cut at an angle to the pepper. About a 70° Angle. You can cut the piece in half like shown in the picture for a larger pieces or cut it twice to have 3 parts for a dinner salad or smaller bite size pieces in your stir fry or frittata.
4. Medium Cut (Middle Row Far Left on Main Picture)
This cut allows for even cooking for those dishes that require longer cooking times or high heats like stir fry’s but also makes a great dipper for heartier dips.
- Stir Fry – For a more hearty bite and flavor of the pepper in the finished meal like Steak and Green Peppers
- Boiling – For broths for easy straining later
- Hearty Dips – When your dip needs a more stable vegetable that won’t break when being dipped
- Frying – Smaller sausages that this is being used as a condiment
- Slow Cooker Meals – Will reduce well for meals made in a slow cooker and still have some heartiness to it.
- Baking – I use this and the next cut up for baked meals like Chicken Vesuvius where I want it to add a lot of flavor to the dish yet still keep its form after longer baking cycles but the piece is not to large after cooking.
How To Cut;
Using chef’s knife, cutting on the flesh side of the pepper piece, start at the top of the pepper piece and work your way down to the bottom. Cut 1 inch thick pieces.
5. Thick Cut (Middle Row Center on Main Picture)
This cut can handle longer cooking and baking times, excellent for frying and grilling.
- Frying – This is the perfect cut for Italian sausage condiment also large scale meal presentation
- Baking – For large scale meals that require longer baking times
- Boiling – For boiling certain meats that need a lot of flavor during boiling but also needed for frying afterwards like making our traditional Beer Brats still strong enough to tolerate some frying after boiling.
- Grilling – Easier to grill and turning excellent side dish with other vegetables that are grilled, kabobs when cut in half or thirds for skewering, cut in half or thirds for foiled side dishes like mixed peppers, onions and potatoes
How to Cut;
Using chef’s knife, cutting on the flesh side of the pepper piece, starting at the top of the piece and work your way down to the bottom. Cut pieces 1½ to 2 inches thick. You can leave it like this for baking, frying, grilling and boiling but if using in a kabob or in a foiled grilled side dish cut in half or thirds by turning the piece and cutting in the center for two pieces or two cuts for three pieces.
6. Small Cut (Middle Row Far Right on Main Picture)
This cut has only a few uses – too thin to tolerate baking or sautéing
- Dips – For standard sour cream and dressing dips
- Snacking – Standard size for lunches and snacking
How To Cut;
Using pairing knife or chef’s knife, cutting on the flesh side of the pepper piece. Start at the top of the pepper piece and work your way down to the bottom. Cut ½ inch pieces.
7. Chopped (Bottom Row Left Corner on Main Picture)
This cut adds quick cooking and flavor but not over powered. It is perfect for when you want to add it raw or cooked the list is endless for its uses
- Rice Dishes – Perfect size for cooking in rice dishes like Fried Rice, and Pilafs
- Dressing Salads – Like Tuna or chicken salads and Vinaigrette salads
- Relishes – Pickled types and small garnish mixed vegetable types
- Omelets – Easier to fold and cooks faster
- Scrambled Eggs – To add flavor to this standard breakfast meal also will cook faster yet still be wholesome enough to have some mild crunch
- Fillings – The list is endless here, Stuffed shells, Deviled Eggs, Stuffing’s etc.
- Pot Pies – Perfect bite size piece and bakes well in the filling
How To Cut;
Using Santoku knife, cutting on the flesh side of the pepper piece, Chop ¼ inch pieces from the top of the pepper to the bottom. Bring the cut pieces together and turn them lengthwise. Letting the knife do the work hold the pieces steady (please keep your fingers out of the way) Keep the tip of the knife on the cutting board and start to chop little square pieces about ¼ inch thick pushing the peppers into the knife blade from the tip of the stack to the bottom. Please be careful!! There is no need to be going fast here unless you are an experienced knife person and even then
8. Julienne Thin Cut and Cut into Thirds (Bottom Row Center on Main Picture)
This cut is done using the same method as you did in the Thin Julienne Cut but now it is being used for another purpose and needs to possess smaller pieces. It allows for fast cooking and is again flexible for its purpose. You do not want it poking a hole in whatever you placed it in.
- Fillings for delicate Pasta’s and Pastry Dough’s – Ravioli, Stuffed Manicotti, and Pastry filled like filo or puff pastry
- Pot Pies – A nice size for this but also adds esthetics to the finished dish
- Stuffed Meats – Perfect for those small appetizers like stuffed mushrooms or broiled stuffed chicken bites
How To Cut;
Like the standard thin julienne cut, using a boning knife, cutting on the flesh side of the pepper piece. Cut in long one swipe cuts starting at the top of the piece and working downward. You should be able to see your knife tip going through the pepper almost translucent but still having some thickness to it. ⅛ thick should be the maximum. As before, smooth uninterrupted cut.
Turn the pieces lengthwise and angle your knife slightly and make two cuts to divide the piece into thirds.
9. Angled Medium Cut (Bottom Row Right Corner on Main Picture)
This cut adds definition or flare to a meal as well as a good pepper taste. It makes it easier to bite and can handle high to medium cooking methods.
- Stir Fry’s – this cut allows for beautiful presentation but also cooks well keeping its crunch. Bite sized for easy mouth feel. Use multiple types of peppers to give not only the different flavors that those peppers give but is so eye appealing in the dish
- Side Dishes – Adds a bit more pepper flavor to potatoes, corn, or whatever you pair it up with and cosmetic definition
- Sautéed – Use this with sauces to add over a dish and add another dimension to your plate as well as taste. Usually Sautéed first before added to sauces
How To Cut;
Using chef’s knife, cutting on the flesh side of the pepper piece, start at the top of the pepper piece and work your way down to the bottom. Cut 1 inch thick pieces just as you did on the standard medium cut but with this cut you turn the piece lengthwise then turn your knife and cut angle to the piece. Angle right and cut move up the main piece then angle left and cut – you are making chunk cuts but on angle. You will have about 3-4 cuts per piece all in different angles and shapes.