Fancy slicing and dicing isn't as difficult as it looks. Follow these steps to create perfect matchsticks every time.
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Julienned vegetables
Credit: John Cullen/Getty Images

Cutting carrots into a julienne—thin strips that resemble matchsticks—may sound like a daunting task that requires some serious knife skills, many hours of practice, or a culinary school degree (or a combo of all three), but it’s actually quite easy once you learn the basic technique. You’ll be rewarded with a pretty pile of matchstick-size carrots that are great for garnishing salads and adding to sautés and stir-fries. Before you start, it’s important to make sure you have a sharp chef’s knife to handle the job; a sharp knife ensures your cuts will be clean and will also help prevent the blade from slipping, which means you’re much less likely to accidentally cut yourself in the process.A sturdy cutting board is a must, too. And once you’ve mastered this technique, you can apply it to many other vegetables—potatoes, celery, and more.

Julienned vegetables
Credit: John Cullen/Getty Images

1 Peel and Trim.

First, peel the carrot. (Tip: We love to use a Y-shape Swiss peeler—the basic one from Kuhn Rikon works like a dream, and it’s favored by professional chefs in restaurants everywhere. Plus, it’s cheap!) Trim off the top and narrow bottom root end of the carrot and discard.

2 Create Smaller Pieces.

Slice the carrot crosswise into pieces about 2 inches long, depending on the size of your carrot and the desired length of the matchsticks you want to end up with. The idea is to create pieces that are as similar in size as possible so the resulting julienne is uniform.

3 Create a Flat (and Stable) Surface.

Cut a thin slice lengthwise from one side of each carrot piece, creating a flat surface. Roll the carrot onto its flat side, creating a stable bottom that will prevent the carrot and/or your knife from slipping, protecting your fingers and making the rest of your cuts a cinch.

4 Start Slicing.

Cut the carrot pieces lengthwise into ⅛-inch thick slices. Stack the slices on top of each other, then slice lengthwise into ⅛-inch thick strips, creating uniform matchsticks. And voilà—you’ve got perfectly julienned carrots. Use this technique with different veggies (cucumbers, zucchini, potatoes) to create perfect strips every time.