Learning how to cut tomatoes into slices, wedges, and cubes is a valuable skill. It makes common tasks like preparing salads, sauces, and sandwiches easier.
Cutting tomatoes was one of the first things I learned early in my career as a cook and was something I did nearly daily throughout my career.
After 15 years working in restaurants, it was easy to take the skill of cutting tomatoes for granted. So in this article, I’ll share simple ways to cut tomatoes, plus useful tips I’ve picked up from other pros in the field.
How To Cut A Tomato
Before You Cut, Always Wash
Always rinse tomatoes before you eat or cut them. Tomatoes are often eaten raw, like in salads and sandwiches.
Running them under cold water in the sink is a simple but important step to remove dirt, pesticides, and bacteria.
Make Sure You Have A Sharp Knife
Having a sharp blade is more important than having a serrated one. In fact, the ease with which a blade cuts through a tomato is a great measure of a sharp knife.
A properly sharpened knife will easily cut through tomato skin with little resistance. Using a serrated knife may seem easier at times, but the teeth of these blades tear up the fruit’s cell walls.
This leads to messy tomato slices that lose more juice and won’t last as long once stored.
I like to use a chef’s knife to cut tomatoes, but a sharp paring knife works as well. Use what is most comfortable for you. If you have to saw through the skin of a tomato too much, your knife may not be sharp enough.
4 Useful Ways To Cut A Tomato
Tomato wedges are great in salads or as a light snack.
First, remove the stem and core of the tomato. Insert the tip of your knife on one side of the stem angled towards the middle of the tomato.
Repeat this process, moving around the entire stem until it pops out. If you’ve ever carved a jack-o-lantern, this should feel familiar. Or, take the easy way out and get yourself a tomato corer.
Next, place the tomato on a cutting board stem-side down. This makes it stable and will help prevent any rocking or sliding while making your first cut.
Hold the tomato in place and use your knife to slice the tomato right down the middle. If you’re using a chef’s knife, use light pressure and try to make this cut in one long stroke, using the entire blade. You’ll end up with a straight, clean cut, and you’ll be less likely to squish the tomato.
Place your tomato halves on their newly cut, flat sides. Orient them so that the stem side is now facing you.
Cut each half in half again to make four quarters.
For thick wedges, make a diagonal cut through the skin of the tomato to the corner of the base at a 45° angle. Cut each new wedge in half in a similar fashion for thinner wedges.
Pro-tip: It is best to exercise patience when learning a new cut. Rushing can lead to sloppy results or injury. As one of my first chefs told me, “Walk before you run.”
Tomato slices are the go-to cut for sandwiches, vegetable platters, pizza, or as a garnish to the frame the border of a dish.
Just like with tomato wedges, remove the stem and core of the tomato before you start slicing.
Then, place the tomato on your cutting surface stem-side down.
If you’re a beginner, make a very thin cut on one side of the tomato. You want the sliver you removed to be about the same size as a quarter coin.
This step adds stability as you cut but will also affect the appearance of some of your tomato slices. So, if you’re comfortable gripping the tomato without it rolling, feel free to omit this step.
Place your tomato on its side and orient it so the stem side is perpendicular to your knife.
Firmly but gently grip the tomato with your non-cutting hand and begin making slices. Start at the stem end and make slices until you reach the base of the tomato. Vary the thickness depending on your use and preference.
You’ll want your knife strokes to be long and deliberate, trying your best to prevent too many sawing motions.
This will ensure you have nice, even slices. Once you get the hang of it, most slices will come from one smooth motion of your knife.
I’ve worked for chefs that demanded the thinnest slices and chefs that liked them thick and meaty so that you could really “taste the tomato.” And when I ended up running kitchens, I found myself somewhere in the middle. So it’s ultimately up to you.
Tomato cubes are the foundation of soups, sauces, stews, and salsas.
Step one, you guessed it, remove the stem and core of the tomato.
Next, place the tomato on its side and hold it firmly but gently. You want a solid grip without crushing or bruising the tomato. Now make a slice about ¼ in thick to remove the side of the tomato opposite the stem.
Flip the tomato over so the stem side is flat against the cutting surface and the cut you just made is facing up.
Now for the fun part!
On the flattened, cut side of the tomato, make vertical cuts down into the tomato. You want these cuts to be fairly deep, but not all the way through to your cutting board.
This can take some practice, but the cut should end just inside the skin of the tomato. Feel free to stop your cut even sooner as you’re getting the hang of things.
Rotate the tomato 90°, so the cuts you just made are perpendicular to your knife. Repeat the same cuts you did in the previous step. When you are done, you should be left with a grid-like pattern.
The size of these cuts will determine how large or small your cubes will be. So, make fewer cuts at each step for larger cubes and more cuts for smaller ones.
Next, find one of your cuts towards the center of the tomato and cut all the way through to split the tomato in half.
Place the newly cut side of the tomato against the cutting surface. If you’ve ever diced onions before, you should be in familiar territory now.
Finally, make cross cuts of your desired thickness to finish the job. Feel free to experiment with your sizing! Larger cubes are great for sauces, soups, and stews. And finer dice are ideal for pico de gallo and other salsas.
Voila! You now have diced tomato cubes without having to make slices and stacks first. The first time I saw a cook do this, I was amazed and knew I wouldn’t dice tomatoes any other away again.
Tomato roses make a nice garnish and can be a fun party trick when you want to impress.
Start by holding the tomato in your non-dominant hand and a peeler in the other. Then, at the top of the tomato, near the stem, cut into the skin with the peeler.
Start gently rotating the tomato toward the peeler blade while you pull the peeler toward you. This should be a smooth motion and so go slowly at first.
Keep your peeler angled slightly towards the bottom of the tomato as you peel. That way, as you rotate around the tomato, you’ll end up with one long spiral of tomato skin.
The goal is to have one unbroken ribbon of tomato. Of course, you may end up with a few strips of broken skin before you get the technique down, but that’s OK! Practice makes perfect.
Next, simply coil the tomato peel into a spiral to form your tomato rose.
When To Peel Or Deseed Tomatoes?
Peel your tomatoes anytime you want a smooth texture in the final dish. This is a very common step when making soups and sauces. And as luck would have it, we’ve got a great article if you foresee peeling tomatoes in your future.
For things like salads and stews, peeling a tomato is unnecessary.
You’ll also want to deseed your tomatoes any time the texture of the seeds will negatively impact your completed dish.
The easiest way to deseed tomatoes is to cut them in half horizontally and scoop the seeds out with a corer or spoon.
The Best Way To Store Tomatoes
Whole tomatoes can be stored at room temperature until they ripen. Once they are ripe, use them as soon as possible.
Storing them in the refrigerator can extend their shelf life by a few days, but it will also negatively impact their texture.
Cut tomatoes can be stored in an airtight container or zipper bag in the refrigerator for two to three days. Any longer, and the texture of the tomatoes becomes unappetizing.
Tomatoes can be frozen if you’re cutting them in bulk or have tomatoes that will go bad soon. However, I recommend only freezing tomatoes if you use them in a soup or sauce since the texture will be less than ideal once thawed.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you cut tomatoes for a salad?
Wedges are the ideal cut for salads, and it’s easy to adjust the size depending on the other ingredients you’re serving.
How should I prepare tomatoes for sauce?
Peel and seed tomatoes to prepare them for a sauce. Then, cutting them into wedges or large cubes will suffice for most recipes.
What type of knife is best for slicing tomatoes?
A sharp chef’s knife is my go-to blade for slicing tomatoes. They allow for precise, controlled cuts.