A Mezzaluna Knife Makes Meal Prep Way Easier—Here's How to Use It

This $15 cutting tool from Italy helps chop ingredients with ease.

Many American cooks use a European-style chef's knife to cut, chop, and dice; while in some cultures, they use cleavers. Others use a mortar and pestle, molcajete, or similar tool that grinds and collects. But here's another kitchen tool: a curved, two-handled blade used in Italy and Italian America called a mezzaluna. Learn more about what it is, how it's used, and why you should add one to your kitchen.

What Is a Mezzaluna?

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A mezzaluna is a knife used for chopping. The term comes from the Italian word that means "halfmoon," which aptly describes the blade's curved shape. Handles of two or three inches each project from the halfmoon's tips. The handles are often plastic and easy to grip, sometimes with finger molds. A mezzaluna can have one, two, or three blades between its handles.

How to Use It

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

Gather what you need to be chopped, break out a trusty cutting board, and place your ingredients (say, half an onion or a head of romaine) in the middle of the cutting board.

Step 2: Wrap Fingers Around Handles

Wrap your fingers around the handles as you would the pole of a beach umbrella: Thumb curled around to touch your fingers. The blade faces down, and its curve bumps out (convex).

Step 3: Rock the Blade

Next, lift up one handle while the other is down, and then bring the down-side up while the up-side goes down. Repeat this motion until the rocking of the blade's curve reduces the onion or lettuce to pieces. The longer you use this tool, the finer the cuts.

Step 4: Use Your Hips (Optional)

While you're chopping, the motion is in the wrists and forearms. There's no need to involve your legs or hips, although I like to—much to the amusement of my grandmother, who grew up in a kitchen where the mezzaluna was used regularly.

She would combine ingredients for Roman-style artichokes—garlic, mint, breadcrumbs, and cheese—and dice them all together with a mezzaluna, reducing the mixture to a fine blend to be spread on artichokes, and then braised or baked.

Why You Need It

If you like to keep things light in the kitchen, you should invest in a mezzaluna because they're fun to use. High-end, multi-handled mezzalunas cost more than $100, but there's no need to spend that much. You can find a great-performing one for less than $15.

Mezzalunas don't allow for precision knifework like chef's knives do, but not many home cooks have restaurant-level knife skills, and you don't always need a perfect dice on that onion. When you opt to use a mezzaluna, you're opting to save serious time and have fun.


What's more, the blade serves several practical purposes. For example, you can finely chop garlic, especially if your mezzaluna has more than one blade. And sure, you can slice a pizza with a pizza wheel or culinary scissors, but a large mezzaluna also does a great job.

The beauty of the curved blade is that you can cut more than one ingredient at a time, so you can make gremolata or pesto in a jiff. Once you master the two-handed rocking motion, you can cut basil, garlic, and pine nuts all at once.

Have Fun!

No, you don't have to move your hips while using a mezzaluna, but why not? Using one is about embracing fun in the kitchen. Sure, using a chef's knife is more efficient, but spending time with family and friends in the kitchen isn't only about making everything as streamlined as possible. Cooking should be fun, and that's what this tool reminds you.

Next time you see a garlic press, corn corer, or another marginally useful kitchen tool, remember the quirky and useful mezzaluna. This cool-looking device is steeped in cultural history and practical: It can segment a mean pizza, pinsa, or focaccia; and can chop more than one ingredient at a time. Most importantly, it brings fun back to cooking, and that alone makes it worthwhile.

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