How to Cut a Tomato

Learn all the ways to cut a tomato without making a mess.

  • Izzy Johnson
  • Aug 25, 2022
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Next to stone fruit and watermelon, tomatoes are probably the most beloved fruit of the summer. And with good reason. There’s nothing like eating a fresh tomato, whether paired with mozzarella, sprinkled with cracked black pepper and olive oil, or simply eaten out of hand.

The very thing that makes tomatoes so delicious–their thin skins and juicy interiors—also makes them hard to cut. If you don’t cut them correctly, they will end up a pulpy mess of unappealing texture. For this reason, it’s important to know how to cut tomatoes correctly, so they can be fried, used as a garnish, or arranged beautifully on a Serving Platter.

What Knife Should I Use to Cut Tomatoes?

To choose the right knife for the job, you need to first ensure that it passes the tomato test. This means that your knife should be sharp enough that it cleanly slices through a tomato’s skin without applying enough pressure to smash the tomato. Select a sacrificial tomato and test it out. If your knife is too dull, make sure you sharpen it before proceeding.

We like to use a Bread Knife for tomato slices, as the serrations keep the tender flesh intact. If you’re dicing, cubing, or cutting into wedges, try a 6” Chef Knife, which will give you more control. You could also use a Paring Knife, depending on the size of tomatoes you’re working with.

How to Choose Ripe Tomatoes

As with other fruit, ripe tomatoes can generally be determined by their color and feel. Some fruit gives off a pleasant smell to indicate its ripeness, and while tomatoes do have a scent, it’s both difficult to describe and not very intense. You can reliably determine if a tomato is ripe by its softness. Choose tomatoes that are soft without being squishy.

Because tomatoes come in all different colors, that can be a less accurate indication of how ripe they are. Heirlooms for example, can be orange when ripe, while sungolds are yellow, and romas are red. Try to find ones that are free of dents, bruises, or discolored spots. Tomatoes are best when they’re as fresh as possible, so try to find them at a farmer’s market or even grow them yourself for the tastiest results.

How to Cut Tomato Slices

Cutting a tomato into slices is the easiest way to cut and requires the fewest amount of steps. This method is best for cutting tomatoes as a topping for pizza or for a caprese spread. A serrated Bread Knife is best here because it pierces through the skin without damaging the flesh.

Step 1: Trim the Stem

Rest the tomato on its side on your Butcher Board. Hold it gently in place with your non-dominant hand. Trim off the stem end. If any of the tougher part of the core remains, slice that off as well.

Step 2: Slice

Applying minimal pressure, slice directly down in even, parallel cuts in your desired thickness.

How to Cut Tomato Wedges

Tomatoes cut into wedges have a very retro, salad bar feel. They’re another pretty option for caprese, as well as other salads, toasts, or bruschetta. You can use a Bread Knife for this cut as well.

Step 1: Remove the Stem

Start by removing the stem, along with any green leaves, then slice the tomato in half, using the base of the stem as a guide.

Step 2: Make a “V”

Next, slice a small “v” shape to remove any hard stem or core remnants, if desired. Depending on the type of tomato, this may or may not be necessary.

Step 3: Quarter the Tomato

Slice each half in half again, so your tomato is now in quarters. From there, you can slice your wedges as small or large as you like.

How to Dice Tomatoes

Diced tomatoes are maybe the most versatile, as well as the most precise to cut. Use this shape as a garnish for TexMex tacos, in salads, salsas, or as the basis for a fresh tomato sauce. Because of the size, you’ll want a smaller blade. We recommend using a 6” Chef Knife for maximum control.

If you’re putting the tomato in a sauce or salsa, you’ll want that pulp and liquid, so keep the seeds in.

Step 1: Quarter the Tomato

Follow the instructions above to slice the tomato into quarters.

Step 2: Slice in Half

Slice each quarter in half again and place the two halves on top of each other.

Step 3: Cut Strips

Cut into stips length-wise, then across width-wise to create small pieces. Note that they won’t be completely even because of the seeds and pulp.

Step 4: Repeat the Process

Repeat with remaining tomatoes and transfer directly into your dish using the back of a knife or a bench scraper, taking care to not lose any juice.

If you’re putting the tomato in a salad, you may want to remove the seeds to make it less liquidy.

Step 1: Quarter the Tomato

Start by slicing tomatoes into quarters as per the instructions above.

Step 2: Remove the Seeds

Next, take each wedge and carefully run your knife under the seeds, remove and discard.

Step 3: Quarter and Slice

Then, cut each quarter in half again, then slice width-wise to create small cubes.

Step 4: Repeat the Process

Repeat with remaining quarters until you have evenly sized pieces.

Ready to Cook?

Now that you know all about cutting tomatoes, check out a recipe that uses them two different ways. Chef Dawn Burrell puts her spin on the Southern classic fried green tomatoes by breading them in fonio and serving them with a curried crab salad. This recipe requires a little planning, but you’ll be rewarded with a flavorful and unique meal. Not only can you practice cutting tomatoes into slices, Chef Burrell shares a great tip on how to cut small tomatoes (like cherry or grape) all at the same time.

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