5 Tips for Cutting Tomatoes

How many tasty tomatoes are wasted because they're butchered by the wrong knife?
How many tasty tomatoes are wasted because they're butchered by the wrong knife? See more pictures of heirloom tomatoes.
Photo courtesy of LakeCounty.gov

The tomato is perhaps the most useful fruit-mistaken-for-vegetable in our culinary arsenal. You'll find it in Indian masala sauce, South African bredie, Italian marinara and the good-old U.S. house salad. Unfortunately, you'll also find it in many a trash can after a poor cutting job turns it to mush.

It doesn't take much talent to cut a tomato well, but it does take some care. Here, five tips to help you turn a beautiful tomato into a slice, a chunk or a perfect, tiny square you can be proud of.


Cutting a great tomato begins with, yes, a great tomato.

Tip No. 1: Choose wisely.

5. The Right Tomato

Beautifully cut tomatoes start with a beautiful whole fruit.
Beautifully cut tomatoes start with a beautiful whole fruit.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

It's tough (and kind of pointless) to cut a bad tomato well.

Any job worth doing is worth doing with a nice piece of produce, so begin your sauce, garnish, pico de gallo or burger topper by choosing carefully.


Contrary to popular belief, color is not the best way to pick a tomato. Yes, you want one in a deep hue, but there are other factors to consider. A good tomato is free of bruises and dark spots; it feels heavy and firm but still tender, and it smells like a tomato. If it doesn't, it's not ripe enough.

Tip No. 2: With the right fruit in hand, reach for the right tool.

4. The Right Knife

Why do so many tomatoes end up a mangled, mushy mess? Because so many people are going at them with the wrong knife.

For cutting a tomato, go with something serrated. The flesh is so tender, a smooth knife can end up pressing into it instead of cutting through it. Simply saw through the fruit using a light touch, and you'll find it gives easily and forms a nice edge.


Tip No. 3: Out with the tough!

3. Prepping

Coring a tomato after slicing it is less than ideal, since it means additional pressure on the flesh. Instead, remove the stem first.

Using a small, very sharp paring knife and a very gentle grip on the tomato, remove the tough core at each end by going in at an angle. With the knife inserted about three-fourths of an inch from the stem, turn the tomato until you've got yourself a cone you can pop right out.


Then, begin your chopping.

Tip No. 2: For a rough cut, stack 'em up.

2. Rough Chopping

To rough dice, start by cutting your tomatoes into slices.
To rough dice, start by cutting your tomatoes into slices.

When you're cutting tomatoes for sauce, you don't need to remove the seeds, and you don't need perfect little cubes. Any old shape will do. So save time by chopping in stacks.

Begin by cutting the cored tomato into slices, and then make stacks of two slices each. Cut through each stack, rotating 90 degrees after each pass, until you've got your desired size of tomato chunks.


If, on the other hand, you're making garnish or pico de gallo, you may want something a bit less rustic.

Tip No. 1: Take your time.

1. Precision Dicing

For a perfect cut, there are no shortcuts. Stacks are out, and quarters are in.

Instead of slicing, cut the cored, whole tomato into quarters. Then, carefully remove the seeds (a spoon works great for this), and slice the remaining flesh into strips, one quarter at a time. Rotate 90 degrees and dice into perfect little cubes of tomato goodness.


Whether you're coring, slicing, dicing or chopping, always remember: Tomatoes are sensitive fruit. Be gentle.

For more information on tomatoes cooking and related topics, look over the links on the next page.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

More Great Links

  • Ehri Kreitler, Allison. "Knife Skills: Two Ways to Dice Tomatoes." Fine Cooking. (Oct. 25, 2010)http://www.finecooking.com/articles/two-ways-dice-tomatoes.aspx
  • Flinn, Gallagher. "How to Choose the Perfect Tomato." TLC Cooking. (Oct. 25, 2010)https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/fresh-ideas/dinner-food-facts/how-to-choose-the-perfect-tomato.htm
  • Kitchen Bytes: How to Slice a Tomato. Woman's Day. (Oct. 25, 2010)http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Food/Tools-Tips/Kitchen-Bytes-How-to-Slice-a-Tomato.html
  • Tomato Basics. Cook Illustrated. (Oct. 25, 2010)http://www.cooksillustrated.com/images/document/howto/JA99_IStomatobasics.pdf