How To Cut Fennel

updated Sep 30, 2022

To get the most out of your fennel, you can trim, cut, or even shave the bulb into paper-thin slices.

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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Fennel is a vegetable with a lot going for it. It’s crunchy and sweet when tossed raw into a salad, or silky and toothsome when roasted. But before you can eat it, you have to slice it. When buying this herbaceous bulb, make sure to choose one that has a heavy base and tightly packed layers.

Here’s how to take that hefty bulb of fennel and trim it down into bite-sized pieces.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Buying Fennel

Fennel is at its peak season from late fall to early spring, though it can usually be found year round. Choose bulbs that feel heavy for their size and have tightly packed layers. The stalks, if still attached, should feel firm; not limp or rubbery. Avoid bulbs with very loose outer layers or that look bruised or split on the outside.

Fennel is sold both with the stalks and fronds attached and with them removed. I recommend buying with the stalks attached or at least with some of the stalks still remaining; these bulbs tend to store better and for longer than those with the stalks totally removed. The stalks and fronds are also edible — bonus fennel! The tender, lacy fronds are fantastic in salads and the stalks can be chopped up into stews or used for vegetable stock.

Storing Fennel

Store whole fennel in the crisper drawer or loosely wrapped in plastic in your fridge. It’s best used within a week, though will often keep for longer. Just peel away the outer layers as they become wilted or rubbery.

To save sliced or shaved fennel for later, submerge the slices in a little water, cover, and refrigerate until needed.

Using Fennel

The fennel bulb can be eaten raw or cooked — both have their perks! When raw, fennel is crunchy and sweet; once cooked, it becomes silky soft. Raw or cooked, fennel has a faint flavor of licorice or anise — not so much that it overwhelms a dish, but just enough that it adds an interesting layer of flavor to the dishes in which it’s used.

Recipes with Fennel to Try

Make the most of your freshly cut fennel in these recipes.

How to Cut Fennel

To get the most out of your fennel, you can trim, cut, or even shave the bulb into paper-thin slices.

Nutritional Info


  • 1 bulb fennel, scrubbed clean



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How to Cut Fennel

  1. Trim off the fennel stalks. If the stalks are still attached to your bulb of fennel, cut them away close to where they connect to the bulb. Save the fennel stalks and fronds for something else — the leafy fronds can be eaten raw and the stems are great for soup stock.

  2. Cut the bulb in half. Trim a little bit off the bottom of the fennel bulb to make the bottom stable (and cut away any tough root bits). Then, cut straight down through the root of the fennel bulb.

  3. Cut the halves into quarters. Again, cut straight down through the root.

  4. Peel off any wilted outer layers. If the outer layer of your fennel bulb feels wilted or rubbery, peel it away and discard.

  5. Slice the fennel crosswise. With the quarter still on its side, slice crosswise to cut the fennel into slices. Start at the top of the bulb and work toward the root. Cut your slices thick or thin, according to your recipe. Repeat with the remaining bulbs.

How to Shave Fennel

  1. Shave the fennel (optional). For really thin, shaved slices of fennel, use a mandoline. Lay the quarter of fennel with the cut side flat against the mandoline. Press down with the safety guard to secure the bulb, then quickly run the bulb across the blade to shave it into thin slices. Adjust the thickness as needed.