Don't you hate it when you've got a tasty BLT sandwich on the mind, but you end up pulverizing that juicy tomato on the cutting board instead? What is the best knife for cutting tomatoes, anyway? We've picked through the research vines and have several ripened answers for you!
You need the right tool to penetrate the skin while simultaneously not squashing the tomato's fragile insides. The best knives for cutting this ingredient are the classic tomato knife or a serrated paring knife. Although a chef's knife can do the job, it is not generally recommended due to the high risk of damaging your produce.
So, why are these knives the most effective? Can you use a bread knife for a tomato? What is the proper way to cut a tomato? Continue reading for juicy tips on achieving your perfect tomato slices every time!
Best Knife Options For Tomato-Cutting
Did you know that tomatoes are so popular and complex to cut correctly that they have their own dedicated knife? A tomato knife is designed specifically for this fruit masquerading as a vegetable.
They are typically short with a low profile. This makes for easier handling and precision. However, you can also find long-handled versions if you have larger hands.
Their serrated blades contain sharp teeth that grab and slice their way through the skin. So, you don't have to use the extra pressure that tends to result in squashing this delicate ingredient. Exerting minimum amounts of compression is the key to a well-sliced mater. Serrated edges are critical to this process.
Why is a tomato knife forked?
Since we're on the tomato knife subject, let's draw some attention to an obvious question. What's with that weird double-prong end?
Some tomato knives are constructed with a forked tip. It's mainly there to make moving slices out of your path a faster job when cutting. Just flip them right out of the way! But it also comes in handy when transferring to a plate for serving.
Serrated paring knives
If you don't want to invest in a tomato knife, the next best option is a serrated paring knife. Chances are you probably already have one of these at home, as they're relatively common for fruits and veggies!
Like the tomato-slicing knife, parers are short because they're made for precision work. A shorter blade gives you more control over what you're doing. This means not only better results for the plate but fewer chances of slashing your finger.
Again, you always want the saw-toothed versions for tomatoes, when possible. Considering this fruit's taut skin, it's important to have those little razor-sharp teeth on your knife. Remember, you need to cut across rather than pressing down so as not to squash the fragile insides. Those serrated edges will eat right through the surface for you with virtually no pressure.
As you know, prepping tomatoes can be messy work, and your instrument can become slippery. Because of this, and the fact that paring knives are already so short, try to find one with a non-slip handle. It's essential to be able to maintain a safe grip.
Can you use a bread knife for a tomato?
You can use a bread knife for slicing tomatoes since it has a serrated edge. However, this is only recommended for extra-large-sized specimens. You know those monster tomatoes you sometimes find at the farmers' market? You can get some nice, even slices by using the bread knife in this particular case. For regular or small tomatoes, though, stick with a smaller type of blade for better control.
What about my chef's knife?
While a chef's knife is the jack-of-all-trades of the kitchen, that doesn't make it the correct tool for every job. This is especially true for tomato cutting. The chef's knife must be exceptionally sharp to even have a reasonable chance of slicing your tomato without damaging it. Unless you're a professional chef, it's more likely that this blade would crush the specimen.
So, can you use a chef's knife? Technically, yes.
Should you? Not really, unless you have dicing in mind.
How to use a tomato knife
Use your tomato knife as you would any other serrated blade, such as a bread knife.
The most important thing to remember is to let the teeth do the work. Use a gentle back-and-forth stroke rather than pressing down. You want minimal pressure to decrease the odds of splattered tomatoes.
Once you've got a couple of slices, use the forked end of the knife (if you have that design) to push or pick them up off the cutting board.
Other uses for a tomato knife
Tomato knives are more versatile than one might think! They're incredibly adept at items with thick skins and delicate insides. This makes them wonderful for smaller chunks of bread, avocado, citrus fruits, and items like plums. You can also lay waste to foods like onion, lettuce, and especially hard-boiled eggs!
What is the proper way to cut a tomato?
The best method of cutting a tomato depends on what you're after. For example, you need slices for sandwiches. Wedges (or chunks) are best for salads. And there's a certain way to safely cut those little cherry tomatoes, as well.
Let's take a closer look at some popular approaches!
For the tastiest burgers and BLTs, you'll want to slice your tomato. This way it fits perfectly between those buns! Here are the basic steps:
- First, lay the tomato on its side on the cutting board. Let the top face to the right.
- Now, slice off the very top of the tomato to get rid of the stem.
- Next, work from top to bottom (right to left), making parallel cuts in the desired thickness.
To see a full video tutorial, take a look at this guide on "How to Slice Tomatoes."
All you salad lovers out there need this technique. Those juicy chunks look amazing in the bowl and taste even better! Follow these simple steps:
- Before you start, remove any stems.
- Place the tomato right side up on your cutting board.
- Slice in half directly down the middle, from top to bottom.
- Next, cut it half again to make quarters.
- Now, if you want even smaller wedges, you can slice the quarters down their middle.
If you're confused, don't worry! You can also watch a complete walkthrough on "How to Cut Tomato Wedges."
Tomato cubes are perfect for creations like salsa and yummy guacamole. And they're simple to prepare. Here are the high notes:
- Start with a slice that you got from the slicing tutorial.
- Now, cut it lengthwise into thin strips.
- Holding the strips together, slice again in the opposite direction to make your cubes.
Need a visual? We've got you covered. Check out this short video on "How To Dice Tomatoes."
Working with cherry or grape tomatoes
Smaller tomato species, such as grape and cherry varieties, are delicious additions to salads. They're also terrific pizza toppings and thrown in pasta sauces. However, working with them can be a bit tedious if you try to cut them individually. Check out this hack for prepping several cherry tomatoes at once!
- Use two matching plastic lids (or plates).
- Trap the tomatoes between the two lids.
- Stick the serrated knife into the gap and slice through. Use only enough pressure to keep the maters in place.
"How To Cut Cherry Tomatoes Fast" gives a quick video walkthrough for those of us that have to see things done!
Have a knife day!
Unfortunately, we've reached the end of the post! Yeah, we're kind of sad about that, too.
We established that the best knives for cutting tomatoes are the tomato knife and serrated paring knife. Using these is most effective in penetrating that tight skin without ruining the soft meat of that tomato. Although a bread knife can often be used on mega-tomatoes, we don't recommend them or a chef's knife for day-to-day tomato prep.
Now take all your new tips into the kitchen and chop it like it's hot!