Dicing is a common cooking technique where foods are cut into small, uniform cubes. Many different foods can be diced, opening up various possibilities for recipes and meal preparation. When determining what foods to dice, consider the ingredients’ textures and cooking times.
Fruits and Vegetables
Most fruits and vegetables can be diced if they are firm enough to hold their shape once cut. Good options include:
- Bell peppers
When dicing fruits and vegetables, make sure they are ripe but still firm. Overly soft or mushy produce won’t dice well. For example, dicing an avocado that’s too ripe may lead to mushy cubes that fall apart. For the best results, dice firm, crisp produce.
Most meats can be diced, including:
For best results, partially freeze the meat first to make dicing easier. Use a sharp knife to cut uniform cubes. Diced meats are great in stews, kebabs, stir fries, and other dishes.
These types of seafood work well for dicing:
As with meat, it helps to partially freeze seafood before dicing to make cutting easier. Try using diced seafood in ceviches, pasta salads, and rice bowls.
Most hard and semi-hard cheeses can be diced, such as:
- Monterey Jack
Let cheese come to room temperature before dicing for the cleanest cuts. Diced cheese is great sprinkled on salads, soups, omelets, and casseroles.
Firm and extra firm tofu can both be diced nicely. For best results, drain excess liquid from the tofu and press to remove moisture before dicing. Diced tofu takes well to stir fries, curries, and noodle dishes.
Bread can be diced when slightly stale for a uniform texture. Good breads to dice include:
Try diced bread in savory bread puddings or stuffings.
What foods aren’t ideal for dicing?
Soft, delicate foods don’t work well for dicing, such as:
- Ripe avocados
The soft texture of these foods makes it hard to cut clean, uniform cubes. Ingredients like tomatoes and bananas tend to mush or crush when diced.
Greasy meats like bacon and sausage can be tricky to dice cleanly too. And soft cheeses like ricotta, cottage cheese, and goat cheese don’t work well either.
Tips for dicing foods
Follow these tips for clean, uniform dice cuts:
- Use a sharp knife to minimize tearing.
- Make perpendicular cuts into batons first before dicing.
- Cut pieces to a uniform size so they cook evenly.
- Keep ingredients chilled while cutting to prevent mushiness.
- Work in batches to avoid overcrowding the cutting board.
How are diced foods used in cooking?
The small, even cubes created when dicing allow ingredients to cook quickly and thoroughly. Common uses include:
- Soups – Diced veggies, beans, meat.
- Salads – Diced fruits, cheese, chicken.
- Stir fries – Diced chicken, beef, veggies.
- Casseroles – Diced potato, bread, cheese.
- Kabobs or skewers – Diced meat, fruit, veggies.
- Sautéed dishes – Diced aromatics like onion, garlic.
The uniform pieces distribute flavors evenly throughout a dish. Dicing also exposes more surface area for delicious browning while cooking.
Many ingredients can be diced, opening up diverse options for recipes. Firm fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood, cheese, bread, and tofu are all good candidates for dicing. Avoid overly soft or delicate foods. Diced ingredients cook up quickly in everything from soups to skewers thanks to their small, uniform size. Following basic knife skills helps achieve clean, even dice cuts.