How to Properly Cut Fennel: A Complete Guide

If you’re new to cooking with fennel, cutting the vegetable can seem daunting. As an underrated produce, fennel gets less recognition than its garden-grown counterparts like carrots or onions. It also comes with a unique, bulbous shape that requires a specific cutting strategy. Luckily, you have a few options when it comes to chopping the vegetable: you can either cut your fennel bulb with or without its core — just as you can either slice or dice your fennel. The best technique all depends on your desired texture, not to mention the recipe at hand. 

Across the options, you’ll generally begin the cutting process by trimming your fennel stalks so you have only the bulb. Then, if your recipe calls for slices — à la a lemon-roasted fennel – you’ll have to decide whether you want to keep the vegetable’s core. For context, the interior of the bulb is fully edible, so it’s perfectly fine to eat the core, especially if you want thick chunks. If you choose that option, simply slice your fennel into two pieces. Then, once the bulb is halved, slice those pieces into two again. 

However, if you’d rather omit the core for thinner, less compact slices, cut your bulb into quarters instead of halves. Then, remove the fragments of the core from each individual quarter. The options, however, don’t stop there. Many recipes call for diced fennel — a form that requires its own technique. 

Slice or dice fennel to enjoy the vegetable both raw and cooked

Cutting fennel

Fennel deserves all the attention, but some recipes use the vegetable as an ingredient rather than the star. In these cases, you’ll want to dice your fennel — a cutting approach that’s as simple as dicing any other vegetable. To chop fennel, cut the bulb in half. Then, lay out both pieces flat-side down, and dice them as you would an onion. Don’t cut them all the way through to the end. Instead, you’ll want to leave just enough room so the pieces stay attached long enough for you to get the job done.

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Of course, there are other considerations to remember whenever you’re cooking with fennel. No matter your cutting technique, make sure to buy the freshest fennel possible. It’s best to look for bulbs that come firm and bright, rather than discolored and soft. Before you even take out your knife, you’ll also want to clean the produce and clear off its outermost layer. You can simply tear the layer off as you would on an onion, or peel it with a vegetable peeler.

Granted, the specifics of cutting may seem unimportant, but the way in which you cut your vegetables can ultimately impact their taste. So, when it comes to fennel, it’s best to strategize — and chop your vegetable with purpose. 

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