How To Chop Up a Big Bunch of Parsley or Cilantro

updated May 15, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Chopping herbs isn’t necessarily an arduous task, but we’ll gladly accept a method that cuts down the time it takes to pick leaves off stems. This is especially useful for cilantro and parsley, where it is often necessary to use just the leaves and not the stems. This is a simple trick — not one that will change your life — but it can speed up your herb prep quite a bit!

Here’s what we do: Instead of pulling leaves off stems one by one or in big clumps (and then rolling them together to make chopping easy), instead try to hold the bunch in your hand and run your knife straight down the stems. It’s like peeling or skinning a vegetable, or scraping scales off a fish. The majority of the leaves will be removed in just a few seconds, leaving only a few left on the inner stems.

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3 Steps for Easily Chopping a Bunch of Parsley or Cilantro

  1. Hold herb bunch and run your knife down it. Hold the bunch of parsley or cilantro in one hand and your knife in the other. Run your knife down the herbs, stem to leaves, at an angle, pressing against the stems, so that you cut of the top tender stems and leaves.
  2. Repeat the process. Rotate the bunch 90 degrees and repeat the process until the majority of the herbs have been removed. The last bit of herbs can be sliced off the end of the stems with a more traditional “chop.” 
  3. Save the bottom stems. When you’re finished, all that’s left in your hand is the bottom stems that can either be blanched for use in stocks or soups, or composted for later use in your garden!

It’s not earth-shattering, but we have found this useful. Sometimes knowing a few little tips like this can put a meal together faster or promote the use of fresh ingredients instead of turning to the spice cabinet.

5 Great Recipes to Try with Your Chopped Herbs

How do you chop parsley and cilantro? Do you pick the leaves off or do you just chop everything, stems and all?