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ATK Kids

How to Teach Kids to Chop, Slice, and Mince Anything

Keep kids safe in the kitchen with our step-by-step guide.
By Published Oct. 26, 2022

Knives might just be the most important tools in the kitchen. For kids, they are also one of the most intimidating.

But with ATK Kids’ comprehensive guide to chopping, slicing, and mincing from our latest cookbook, Kids Can Cook Anything, your young chef will find confidence on the cutting board.

Check out our tips and knife skill guide below. To see the knife skills in action, pick up a copy of Kids Can Cook Anything and scan the QR codes so that kids can watch our very own cooking technique videos.

Before You Begin

Start with the right knives. Kid chefs only really need a chef’s knife and a paring knife. When it comes to chef’s knives, look for shorter blades that are about 4 to 6 inches long. For older kids, we like the Victorinox Swiss Army Fibrox Pro 6” Chef’s Knife. For younger kids, we like the Opinel Le Petit Chef Cutlery Set. Our favorite paring knife is the Victorinox Swiss Army Spear Point Paring Knife.

Make sure your knife is sharp. A dull knife is an accident waiting to happen. To tell if your knife is sharp: With one hand, hold a single piece of printer paper firmly at the top. Using your other hand, lay the knife blade against the top edge of the paper at an angle and slice away from you. If the knife slices cleanly, it’s sharp! If the knife drags, ask an adult to help you sharpen it with an electric or manual sharpener.

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How to Hold a Chef's Knife

Always use “bear claw” grip to hold food in place and minimize danger: Tuck in your fingertips, keeping them away from knife. When you lift knife after making cut, reposition your “clawed” hand for next cut.

Rest your fingers on top of blade while mincing: Grip knife handle with 1 hand, and rest fingers of other hand lightly on top of blade, away from tip.

Measuring Up

Ever wonder the difference between mincing and finely chopping? Chopping and coarsely chopping? Here are the measurements for the various sizes you can cut ingredients:

  • Mince: ⅛-inch pieces or smaller
  • Chop fine: ⅛- to ¼-inch pieces
  • Chop: ¼- to ½-inch pieces
  • Chop coarse: ½- to ¾-inch pieces

How to Slice Cucumbers

Place cucumber on cutting board. Use chef’s knife to trim ends of cucumber (discard ends). Cut cucumber in half crosswise (the short way). Then cut each piece in half lengthwise (the long way). Lay pieces flat side down on cutting board and slice crosswise into thin ­­half-moons.

How to Chop Onions (or Shallots)

1. Cut onion in half through root end, then trim top of onion. Use your fingers to remove peel.

2. Place onion half flat side down. Starting 1 inch from root end, make several vertical cuts.

3. Rotate onion and slice across first cuts. As you slice, onion will fall apart into chopped pieces.

How to Slice Onions

Cut onion in half through root end (see above). Trim both ends and discard. Use your fingers to remove peel. Place onion halves flat side down on cutting board. Slice onion vertically into thin strips (follow the grain—the long stripes on the onion).

How to Peel and Mince Garlic

Garlic is sticky, so you may need to carefully wipe the pieces of garlic from the sides of the knife to get them back onto the cutting board, where you can cut them.

1. Crush clove with bottom of measuring cup to loosen papery skin. Use your fingers to remove and discard papery skin.

2. Place 1 hand on handle of chef’s knife and rest fingers of your other hand on top of blade. Using rocking motion, chop garlic repeatedly into very small pieces, pivoting knife as you chop.

How to Slice and Chop Bell Peppers

1. Use chef’s knife to slice off top and bottom of pepper. Remove and discard seeds and stem.

2. Slice down through side of pepper.

3. Press pepper so it lies flat on cutting board, skin side down. Slice pepper into strips

4. Turn strips and cut crosswise (the short way) into pieces.

Hey! Did you know ATK Kids has its very own YouTube channel? Subscribe now and watch great, funny, silly, and delicious cooking videos for the whole family.