How To Chop Any Herb, According To Rachael

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On our "Foodie 411 show," Rach — along with Chefs Curtis Stone and Geoffrey Zakarian — is tackling all your foodie FAQs.

One viewer named Fiona wrote in via email asking for advice on chopping different kinds of herbs.

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Q: "I sometimes avoid using fresh herbs because I don't know how to prep them. There are so many different kinds of herbs… is there a method to chopping each of them?"

A: "First of all, if you don't like chopping, you can get flavor in your food by just making a bundle of herbs — and if you're braising something or making a sauce or a soup — just throw the herbs in the pan and it will do its job," Rach says. "It will still have a lot of great flavor."

She suggests investing in kitchen twine so you can easily bundle herbs rather than chopping them. For those times when you do need to chop your herbs, though, Rach is demonstrating how to do so.

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Rachael believes in keeping basil at room temperature rather than in the refrigerator. "I treat it like flowers," she says. "I cut the bottoms, I change the water every couple of days and if I put it in a large food storage sack on top — it makes a little greenhouse for it."

If you want to create pretty ribbons of basil, stack the leaves on top of one another, roll them into a log and make a chiffonade — AKA confetti — by keeping the tip of the knife on the board and running the knife across.

Pro Tip: This technique works for the leaves of pretty much any herb, Rach says.


When it comes to tougher stemmed herbs like rosemary and thyme, Rach explains, you don't want to eat the stem.

"Hold it at the top and gently pull the leaves backwards," she says.

Once you've separated the leaves from the stems, pile the leaves together and run your knife through the pile once vertically. Keep piling the leaves back together and go back and forth with your knife until you've milled the herb down.

Pro Tip: "There are some lemon thymes and soft thyme that are very tender and you can chop up the stems," Rach continues. "But the stuff you get in the grocery store is largely going to have a woody stem."

RELATED: Rachael's Tip: Fresh vs. Dried Herbs


Cilantro has tender, flavorful stems, so Rach stems the very end and chops up the rest of the stem and leaves together.

Pro Tip: "I don't discard it at all, I don't take the time picking it because it's tasty and most of it's tender," Rachael says. "I would just take off the very end of it — the rest of this is totally edible."


With parsley, Rach rips off the top — the leaves — and saves the stems for stock in soup.

Hold the bundle by the top of the stems with one hand, and at the top of the leaves with the other. Then, simply separate the leaves from the stems in one swift motion.

Pro Tip: The top is the part you'd chop for the recipe that calls for parsley leaves. Put the stems into an herb bundle and save to put into soup or stock pot, Rach suggests.

Watch Rach demonstrate how to chop basil, rosemary, thyme, cilantro and parsley in the video above.

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