What is a Julienne Cut?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

When food is sliced into even, thin strips, it is called a julienne cut. This cut is actually rather easy to accomplish, especially with the assistance of a mandoline slicer. It can be used to make foods look stylish on the plate, and to ensure that foods will be cooked evenly and thoroughly. Learning how to julienne properly is important, and it will elevate a cook's skills.

A Julienne cut is frequently used to cut carrots, peppers, and other vegetables into small toothpick size pieces.
A Julienne cut is frequently used to cut carrots, peppers, and other vegetables into small toothpick size pieces.

A julienne cut may be of varying thicknesses, but it is usually square. Sometimes, vegetables are cut into very fine slivers, while in other cases, the cut may be more thick. Vegetables cut this way are sometimes said to be “frenched,” and the cut is also known as a matchstick cut, since the vegetables may be cut short so that they strongly resemble matchsticks. In general, the cut is reserved for vegetables, although some meats may be prepared this way for specialty dishes.

Julienne cuts are used to make sushi.
Julienne cuts are used to make sushi.

For food presentation, learning how to julienne is essential for cooks. When performed well, it creates an even, attractive look for spreads of vegetables such as those on a buffet line. It also ensures that foods look even, whether they are rolled up into sushi or cooked down into borscht. Since many diners prefer a simple and symmetrical look to their food, the cut is eye pleasing. It can also be used to contrast larger chunks of food, which will stand out against their uniform background.

Julienne cutting ensures that the items used in borsch cook down evenly.
Julienne cutting ensures that the items used in borsch cook down evenly.

Using a julienne cut in food preparation also ensures that food cooks evenly and all the way through. When all of the foods in a dish are the same size, they will tend to cook more uniformly, and chefs will not end up with areas of greater and lesser doneness. In addition, a mixture vegetables cooked together will all cook all the way through, since the even size is easy to heat.

When julienning by hand, a cook should select a very sharp knife. She should start by completely trimming and peeling the food that needs to be cut. If it is round, like an onion, it should be cut in half so that it will lie flat on a cutting board. The chef should start by making a series of parallel cuts that are equidistant from each other, and then flip the food on its side and repeat the process. When done, the cook will have a small pile of even strips. Cooks who are using a mandoline should select the appropriate blade and then push the trimmed and peeled food through the device.

Salad bars often feature vegetables that have been julienne cut.
Salad bars often feature vegetables that have been julienne cut.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments


I admire anyone who can do a julienne cut onion. I cry so much just from slicing off big slices of it for a burger that I can't imagine making it through all those little cuts to produce so many tiny slices!

I've heard there are tricks to cutting an onion without crying, but I have never heard exactly what they are. Can anyone tell me? I'd love to be able to do some julienne onions for a salad.


@shell4life – That sounds just like my french fries slicer. I am really bad at cutting things with a knife, too, so it was the perfect tool for me.

I can adjust the thickness of my fries, which I love. Sometimes, I'm in the mood for thick fries, but other times, I want shoestring potatoes, which lean more toward the julienne cut.

I have to remember to be really careful, though. Once the vegetable that you are passing over the blades gets thin, you could easily slice through your fingers.


I like julienne cut carrots in my salads. If you use whole baby carrots or cut regular carrots into thick slices, then it takes way too long to chew them. My lunch hour is nearly over by the time I finish my salad!

Julienne cut carrots are the perfect thickness. I can chew them in probably half the time it takes to chew a carrot coin.

I think that julienne cut vegetables are so cute that I would love to do an entire salad of them. However, it's impossible to cut tomatoes this way, since they are so juicy that they just turn to mush. You also can't cut broccoli florets into matchsticks.


I struggle with cutting sweet potatoes this way, because they are so hard. I have trouble even cutting them in half with a sharp knife.

I got a mandolin slicer to make the job easier. I love making baked sweet potato fries, but I was always afraid I would wind up slicing off a finger with the knife, because I had to apply so much pressure just to chop it.

The mandolin slicer is awesome! I can make julienne cuts in just a minute or two, whereas before, it was taking me up to half an hour!


The most popular food to cut this way is the potato. Many people also cut carrots this way and it's more common to see it used with vegetables than with any other food, as stated in the article above. While the cut might look sophisticated, it's simple and doesn't require much skill or finesse.


Just a note, a sharp, non-serrated kitchen does the best cuts. Don’t use serrated knives. You can also save your “scraps” for vegetable stock. The ideal cut is about two inches long. If you do it any longer, it’s harder to get it in your mouth!

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