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How to Chiffonade Basil (or Other Leafy Greens)

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Ribbons of basil.

Summer basil makes a bright topping for all kinds of dishes, from a classic caprese to pasta. Here’s how to chiffonade basil to get those pretty basil ribbons. 

How to Chiffonade Basil - Knife Skills

What Is a Chiffonade Cut?

There are lots of “official” knife cuts: large dice, small dice, baton, julienne, and more. A chiffonade cut is used to thinly slice soft, leafy vegetables and herbs like kale or basil.

A chiffonade serves dual purposes:

  1. A chiffonade breaks down a raw leaf’s fibers, making it a little easier to eat and chew. This is especially important when it comes to tough greens like you’d see in a kale salad.
  2. Chiffonades also allow you to evenly distribute whatever you are cutting over your entire dish, like in a tomato mozzarella salad. A chiffonade also looks very, very pretty.

How to Chiffonade Basil - Knife Skills

So, How Do I Chiffonade Basil?

I most often apply a chiffonade to fresh basil, so that’s what I’ll demo here. But the same technique applies to any leaf you choose to cut this way.

First, stack your clean, fresh basil leaves neatly on top of one another. Face them toward you so the long edge of the leaves run left to right, not up and down.

stacked basil leaves for chiffonade
Stack the basil leaves neatly in a pile.

Then, roll the leaves tightly but gently away from you, tucking the leaves under as you go, creating a basil “cigar.”

how to chiffonade basil leaves
Roll the fresh basil leaves up lengthwise to form a tight cigar.

Next, use a very sharp knife to make thin perpendicular cuts down the length of your basil roll-up, creating ribbons.

basil being cut with chiffonade knife technique into ribbons
Slice the rolled basil leaves perpendicularly to create thin ribbons.

Unfurl the rolls into a fluffy pile, and use as you like.

How to Chiffonade Basil - Knife Skills

Now you know how to chiffonade basil, kale, or any other leafy green to create beautiful ribbons using a classic knife cut.

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