Learn how to cut a tomato like a pro! I’ll show you a few simple knife-cutting techniques to properly slice and dice a tomato into desired shapes and sizes. Add them to salads, sandwiches, salsas, dips, sauces, savory dishes, and more!
Table of Contents
- How to pick a tomato
- How to cut tomatoes
- How to cut tomatoes into wedges
- How to cut tomatoes into slices
- How to dice a tomato
- How to remove the seeds before dicing
- How to cut a tomato for stuffing
- How to store a cut tomato
- More ways to use tomatoes
- Frequently asked questions
- How to ripen a tomato
- How to Cut a Tomato Recipe
Ripe and juicy tomatoes are a staple in the kitchen. This popular produce adds interesting flavor, texture, vibrant color, and nutrition to your favorite dishes. Whether cut up and eaten raw or cooked to concentrate the sweet notes, it’s a highly versatile ingredient in recipes.
Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) are a flowering plant of the Solanaceae nightshade family. From a culinary application perspective, we call them vegetables. However, botanically they are a fruit because they contain seeds. The red skin delivers lycopene, a phytochemical, and the flesh is a good source of vitamin C. Learning how to cut a tomato properly is essential to make preparation easy and efficient.
How to pick a tomato
When at the grocery store, look for these characteristics for picking ripe tomatoes. If you are using it the same day or within a few days, this is how to ensure it’s ready!
- Appearance: They should be entirely red with no green hues. Avoid ones with dark spots or blemishes.
- Smell: They should have a slightly sweet and vegetal aroma near the stem.
- Weight: Pick it up; it should feel heavy for its size, signaling that it’s juicy.
- Texture: Give it a gentle squeeze. It should feel firm yet soft enough that it would be crushed. It should not feel overly soft and mushy, or it will taste mealy.
- Storing: It’s best to keep them at room temperature when ripe if they will be eaten within a day or two for the best taste and texture. If not, transfer them to the refrigerator in the crisper drawer to prolong their shelf life by 1 to 2 weeks.
How to cut tomatoes
There are various ways to cut tomatoes, depending on the recipe. I’ll show you how to cut a tomato for salads, salsas, dips, burgers, sandwiches, sauces, and garnish. No matter what type of tomato is used, whether round beefsteak or oblong Roma tomatoes, the knife-cutting technique is the same.
Make sure to use the correct knife; a very sharp chef’s knife or serrated knife with a saw-like edge helps to effortlessly cut through the skin without crushing the delicate flesh and leaving a juicy mess.
Rinse the smooth surface with cool water and dry them with a clean towel before cutting. This removes any dirt and debris. You don’t want to introduce bacteria into the flesh, especially if eaten raw.
How to cut tomatoes into wedges
Cut the tomato in half lengthwise through the stem side. Place each half cut-side up, then make angled or straight vertical slices down to create wedges. A tomato can yield about 8 wedges or more, depending on its size. Larger wedges can be further cut in half to make small pieces. This technique can also be used to create halves or quarters.
How to cut tomatoes into slices
Place the tomato on its side on a sturdy cutting board. Use a knife to slice about 1/4-inch from the top to remove the stem. Firmly hold the tomato, and slice it crosswise to the desired thickness. About ¼ to 1/2-inch thick slices are suitable for toppings or appetizers. This cut yields about 4 to 8 pieces depending on size and thickness.
How to dice a tomato
The tomato seeds are high in fiber and have little flavor. The gel coating surrounding the seeds naturally contains glutamates, which can enhance the savory and meaty taste of a dish, especially when cooked or added to salsas. This cutting technique keeps the pulpy seeds intact.
Start with using the same technique to slice tomatoes. Stack a few of the slices, then cut them into strips. Make perpendicular cuts across to create smaller diced pieces. Depending on their use, the dice size can be about 1/4, 1/3, or ½ inch. If you want to remove the seeds before slicing, see the directions below.
How to remove the seeds before dicing
If you want to remove the seeds for texture reasons or a cleaner dice, here is the simple way I learned in culinary school. Trim off a small portion of the stem and bottom end, about 1/4-inch crosswise. Place cut-side down and slice in half lengthwise.
Working one half at a time, carefully run a knife parallel along the inside flesh to remove the pulp and seeds. If needed, use a spoon or fingers to scoop out the seeds. Slice into strips, then dice into small cubes. I also like to chop the trimmed pieces so there is no waste.
How to cut a tomato for stuffing
The empty cavity of a tomato is perfect for adding a filling like a tuna salad and eating fresh or baked with breadcrumbs. Cut the tomato in half, then scoop out the gel and seeds with a spoon.
How to store a cut tomato
- Refrigerator: Sliced and diced tomatoes can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Tightly wrap partially cut tomatoes in plastic or foil.
- Freezer: Freezing causes the flesh to become mushy. This preservation method is best for whole peeled or diced tomatoes that will be further cooked down or pureed for soups, stews, chilis, and sauce. Store in a resealable freezer bag with the air removed for up to 12 months.
More ways to use tomatoes
Tomatoes are an exciting and versatile ingredient to use in any dish. Try these delicious recipes:
- Add sliced tomatoes to a turkey burger or a tuna melt
- Dices are great for pico de gallo or pineapple salsa
- Use them for marinara sauce, one pot pasta, Mexican rice, or cioppino
Frequently asked questions
A serrated knife is a good choice. The sharp saw-like blade helps to easily break through the thicker skin without crushing the juicy flesh. A sharp chef’s knife works well too. Use a pairing knife for more petite cherry tomatoes.
The tomato can be peeled for a fancier garnish for dishes. It also helps to remove the skin if adding whole or diced tomatoes in a cooked sauce or cold soup like gazpacho. This makes for a smoother consistency as the flesh breaks down. Follow my guide on how to peel a tomato for complete instructions.
The seeds can be kept on the tomatoes but will give a slightly chewier texture and juicy pulp with a more savory and acidic flavor. Often the seeds are left for salsas or cooked sauces to add dimension. Remove the seeds for very clean, diced pieces, especially when garnishing.
Use a sharp paring knife to cut the small tomatoes into halves or quarters into smaller pieces. Cutting lengthwise or crosswise for halves depends on the desired presentation of the dish.
How to ripen a tomato
Tomatoes sold at grocery stores are typically harvested when not fully ripe to protect them from being damaged during transportation. If the tomatoes still feel hard to the touch, let them ripen at room temperature in a shady area on the counter or in the pantry. Fresh tomatoes can typically last up to a week in these conditions. Keep an eye on them to ensure there is no mold growth, especially if the kitchen is warm. To ripen tomatoes faster, store them in a paper bag with ethylene-producing fruit like a banana.
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How to Cut a Tomato
- 1 tomato
- Wash – Rinse the tomato under cool running water. Dry with a clean towel.
- Wedges – Place on a cutting board stem-side up. Cut in half lengthwise through the stem side. Place each half cut-side up, then make angled or straight vertical slices down to create wedges.
- Slices – Place the tomato on its side on a sturdy cutting board. Use a knife to slice about 1/4-inch from the top to remove the stem. Firmly hold, and slice the tomato crosswise, about ¼ to 1/2-inch thick slices.
- Diced – Place on its side on a sturdy cutting board. Use a knife to slice about 1/4-inch from the top to remove the stem. Firmly hold, and slice the tomato crosswise, about ¼ to 1/2-inch thick slices.Stack a few of the slices, then cut the slices into 1/4, 1/3, or 1/2-inch thick strips. Turn the tomato slices 90 degrees, and make perpendicular cuts the same width across the slices to create smaller diced pieces.
- Diced with Seeds Removed – Trim off a small portion of the stem and bottom end, about 1/4-inch crosswise. Place cut-side down and slice in half lengthwise. Working one half at a time, carefully run a knife parallel along the inside flesh to remove the pulp and seeds. If needed, use a spoon or fingers to scoop out the seeds. Slice into strips, then dice into small cubes. Dice the trimmed pieces.
- Stuffing – Cut the tomato in half lengthwise through the stem, then scoop out the pulpy seeds to create a clean cavity.
- Yield: One diced tomato yields about ½ cup, depending on size.
- Storing: Place cut pieces in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Tightly wrap partially cut tomatoes in plastic wrap or foil.
- Freezing: Frozen tomatoes can last for up to 12 months when stored in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. The texture will become mushy, so its best used in cooked or pureed dishes.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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