6 Basic Kitchen Skills We Wish Knew Years Ago

Sometimes the thing stopping us from making a homemade meal isn’t the cooking time, or the grocery shopping we’d have to do after work. It’s the prep. Chopping and dicing can turn a 20-minute recipe into a 60-minute ordeal. Knife skills are one of the first things you learn in cooking school (remember this scene from Julie & Julia ?), and with good reason: Having good knife skills are a real game changer in the kitchen, because it makes a super efficient, slicing, dicing, and chopping machine. And, it's much easier than you think. Once you’ve got these basic techniques down, you’ll be able to mince and matchstick with confidence. Plus, you’ll only need 1 or 2 knives (a chef's knife and a paring knife) in your kitchen arsenal to do it!

Level I: We've Been Holding Knives Wrong Our Entire Lives

Photography by Danny Kim; Food Styling by Lauren Gerrie.
This story was originally published on June 9, 2015.

The first thing to know when it comes to knives, cooking, and chopping is that you've probably been holding a knife wrong your whole life. But don't be embarrassed! The correct way to hold a knife may not seem intuitive at first, but once you see how it improves mobility and efficiency, you'll find it hard to go back to your old habits. Here's how it goes:

1) Hold the knife handle in your hand with the blade facing up (sharp side facing you).

2) Now, close your hand around the handle and turn the blade down to face the table or your work surface (sharp side facing away from you).

3) Inch your grip up on the knife handle until your index and thumb just reach the metal part of the knife.

4) Curl your index finger slightly and rest your index knuckle on one side of the blade, with your thumb pushing against the other side of the blade.

5) Pinch the blade between your index knuckle and thumb, while continuing to hold the knife handle. When it comes to knife skills, your fingers stay still and your wrist is doing all the work.

You're now holding the knife like a professional chef would! Let's chop an onion.