How to Chop Any Leafy Herb

If you’re not careful, you can butcher herbs when you chop them. Here’s the right way to chop herbs for optimal flavor.

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Although dried herbs may be easy to shake into your saute pan, the flavor of fresh herbs such as parsley or basil simply cannot be matched. To keep your dishes flavorful without a heavy hand of salt or extra grease, fresh herbs and a basic chef knife can make a big difference. In fact, adding fresh chopped herbs to your meals may help you achieve the flavors you thought were only possible in restaurants.

Here’s the thing when chopping herbs: You don’t just want to hack away at the leaves. The trick to chopping herbs involves a little extra love to prevent unnecessary bruising to the delicate leaves. This helps the chopped fresh herbs maintain their vivid green color and prevents them from looking wilted or crushed. This is especially important in dishes like guacamole or pico de gallo, where those fresh cilantro leaves are tossed into a raw dish and on full display!

Whether using fresh herbs from the store or from your own herb garden, make a small, loose pile of leaves on the cutting board. Using a rocking motion with your chef knife, make several chops in one direction through the pile. Then, repeat the same chopping motion in the perpendicular direction. Repeat as needed until your fresh herbs reach your preferred size. And just a head’s up, if using fresh herbs in your cooking is  new for you, you may want to start by chopping your parsley, mint, or basil more finely. That great flavor is strong, and your taste buds might need time to adjust. And don’t miss these tips for how to chiffonade herbs for a prettier presentation.

Not sure how to use all that fresh parsley before it goes bad? Freeze it! Try chopping the fresh herbs and then freezing them in either water or olive oil using an ice cube tray. Once frozen, you can pop them out of the tray and store them in a freezer-friendly container. Next time you are making soup and want to add fresh flavor, just grab a cube of frozen herbs and add them to the pot.