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How to Chop Basil Without Leaf Bruising

Happy and bushy basil plant sitting in front of garden on a sunny day

Introducing Basil Chopping 

I take a lot of pride in the kitchen. Food is one of my primary love languages, and so I really take care when I’m doing my prep. No matter how many times people have shown me tricks to peel garlic quicker or to take apart a pomegranate, I just love doing it in my slow and methodical way. 

There’s a tender way to approach every piece of food, especially when it comes to preparing tender herbs like basil. Though you can get away with putting bruised basil leaves on a pasta dish, to me, there’s just something satisfying about knowing that every single element has been prepared to the best of my ability. 

This article is going to go through some neat little tips and tricks on how to properly chop you basil leaves (or any other type of tender herb) to ensure that they don’t bruise when you chop them up! If you’re new to cooking or just looking to improve some skills, this one is for you! 

How to Chop Basil without Bruising 

There are a few things you’re going to need:

  • fresh basil leaves 
  • the sharpest knife in your drawer 
  • wooden cutting board 
  • a set of hands 

Set up with chef's knife, knife sharpener, basil plant and cutting board

Step One: Harvesting 

The first step is going to be harvesting your basil leaves. You may have gotten your basil from the grocery store, or you may have a lovely little plant growing on your windowsill or garden. Either way, take the amount of basil you’ll need for your dish.

We have an entire article going over how to properly harvest basil to ensure you don’t damage the plant if you’re keen on learning a little bit more about that as well! Pruning Prodigy: Master the Art of Basil Trimming for a Healthier, More Abundant Harvest!

Step Two: Gettin’ Ready 

Once you’ve got your leaves, time to get your station ready. I personally think plastic cutting boards are silly and they actually damage your knives, so invest in a wooden cutting board if you can! This allows for a better surface area for chopping up produce. 

Grab the sharpest knife in your drawer, or sharpen one. It’s best to use a bigger chefs knife for this job, as a paring knife won’t allow you to cut the basil leaves in the right way. 

Once you have all of your basil leaves washed and ready to go, time to get them ready for chopping! The idea is to make little bundles of no more than 12 basil leaves and lay them on top of one another. No need to press the pile down, just start with the largest on the bottom and the smaller ones towards the top. Then take your little bundle and gently roll it lengthways like a cigar. 

Hand holding bundle of rolled up basil leaves getting ready for chopping

Step Three: Chippidy Chop

Very tenderly hold your basil leaf cigar with three fingers, and use your chefs knife in a rocking motion. Basically use the tip as a rocking point, and continuously bring the back of your knife down on to the basil bundle. This is called a chiffonade! 

No need to go quickly if it doesn’t feel right, just try not to do any dragging with your knife as this is what causes bruising. Make sure to very gentle hold the bundle as well, as a firm grip is another way to bruise the leaves.  

Gordon Ramsay has an entire video going over the proper way to chop basil if you’re more of a visual learner. 

Wooden cutting board with freshly cut basil leaves next to sharp chefs knife


And there you have it! This is a neat little way to approach cutting basil or any other fine herb to get the best garnishing results possible. Cooking with care is a surefire way to let your loved ones know that you love them, and in my experience, a little effort goes an incredibly long way.