What’s a julienne peeler and do you need one in your kitchen to prep vegetables?
Published May 19, 2023.
Julienne peelers are simple tools that can be used to cut rectangular strips called matchsticks from any firm vegetable or fruit, such as carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, daikon, papaya, beets, apples, and more. After we tested several models, our winner was the OXO Julienne Prep Y-Peeler, which met all our criteria: It quickly and smoothly cut crisp, neat, uniform matchsticks from a variety of produce with maximal ease and minimal waste. We also highly recommend the Kiwi Pro Slice Peeler—made in a style that’s common in Thailand—for its sharp, wavy blades, as well as its sturdiness and comfortable grip. It readily produced elegant, extra-long julienne that didn’t quite have edges that were as crisply squared as the OXO’s matchsticks, but this wasn't ultimately a detractor. It also made waffle- and wavy-style decorative cuts. The only downside is that its julienne pieces sometimes remained lightly attached lengthwise and had to be gently pulled apart.
The julienne (aka matchstick) cut is a classic knife technique that chefs learn in culinary school. Vegetables and fruits cut this way—in long, slim, uniform, squared-off strips that resemble wooden matches—are perfect for slaws and salads, garnishes, and stir-fries; as vegetable noodles; or for making shoestring potatoes and hash browns. In the test kitchen, we also use julienne cuts in recipes when steaming or baking vegetables with fish en papillote, in Japchae and Javaher Polo, and in the classic Thai green papaya salad called som tam.
There are a few ways to produce julienne, and a specialty peeler is just one of them. Even if you lack expert knife skills, we have an easy, modified julienne technique for carrots using a chef’s knife. You can also use our winning mandoline, which works beautifully and quickly but is more expensive and somewhat more dangerous and takes more time to set up and clean up. Julienne peelers promise distinct advantages: They’re very inexpensive and compact, work fast, and require no skill. They also take just seconds to clean.
You’ll typically need to peel produce first with a regular vegetable peeler. Then you use the julienne peeler, drawing it along the length of the vegetable to cut long, narrow strips.
Julienne peelers come in two styles; we tested both. Most models are Y-shaped, with dual blades like a typical vegetable peeler—the first blade travels over food and determines the depth of the peeling cut made by the second blade. There’s a key difference with a julienne peeler: In the United States, typical models have a second blade composed of a complicated series of folded metal po...
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Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.