Chopping small herbs like rosemary leaves can be a real pain. But at the same time, it is a labor of love! The results you get from finely chopped herbs (in terms of flavor) are far better than using whole leaves.
So, what is the best (and most efficient) way to chop rosemary? We recommend using a chef’s knife or mezzaluna knife — both are very versatile and easy to use. You can also use herb-cutting tools like a herb roller blade. No matter which technique you use, keep your blades sharp, use clean cutting motions, and reassemble the piles to uniformly chop the rosemary.
Today, we take a look at the benefits of properly chopping rosemary leaves. And we will, of course, look at the best ways to do so.
We’ll discuss exactly how these methods work and why they work — we’ve also added some tips that will make the process a breeze!
Why Would You Need Chopped Rosemary?
Rosemary is one of the most versatile herbs that you can find — you can use it in both savory and sweet dishes!
But as you know, some recipes call for finely chopped rosemary. Now, many people completely ignore this and use whole rosemary leaves — but chopped leaves have benefits to them!
First, they release a lot more flavor.
Yes, if you need to remove them they are quite annoying — but to develop what chefs call “flavor-town,” you need to crush or chop the herbs. It will truly help create the best flavor that this herb has to offer!
Another benefit of using chopped rosemary is that you can serve it without removing it from the food.
This mostly applies to savory dishes like sauces, stews, and soups — even dry rubs! Ultimately, it means that you don’t bite into a big, unappealing piece of leaf while getting the purest flavor you are looking for (looking at you, bay leaves).
And finally, chopping rosemary for recipes helps you get more precise measurements.
If you need to add one teaspoon of whole rosemary leaves, you will use a different amount every time simply because the sizes of the leaves differ, and therefore the quantity will constantly change.
For a more accurate and consistent measurement, use chopped rosemary!
Can You Chop Rosemary To Various Degrees?
You can, of course, chop rosemary to different consistencies for different uses! But if a recipe says “chop rosemary,” we recommend chopping it finely.
Some recipes will say “coarsely chopped” or “roughly chopped,” in which case you should definitely aim for that level of chop — but again, if it doesn’t specifically state anything, don’t leave the leaves too chunky!
Now, if you want to make a paste by chopping rosemary, bear in mind that it is a time-consuming process. Some of the techniques we will discuss below will work better than others for making paste-like consistencies.
How To Chop Rosemary With A (Chef’s) Knife
We decided to start with the most common method most people will use. Everybody has a knife, even if it isn’t specifically a chef’s knife!
It is easy to handle the knife, control the movement of the blade, and quickly chop the herbs into finer pieces.
Don’t worry, you don’t need a super expensive chef’s knife for this technique to work — it just needs to be a very sharp knife!
If you use a blunt knife, the herbs will crush and bruise instead of being chopped or cleanly sliced. Bruised chopped herbs turn an unappealing black color, and some (rosemary included) can even develop a slightly bitter flavor.
- Remove the leaves from the stalks. You can pick the leaves by hand or use a herb stripper.
- The stalks don’t taste as good as the leaves, so you shouldn’t use them in your food — it’s very bitter in comparison.
- Place them in a pile on a chopping board. Make sure the surface is level, otherwise some parts will be chopped finer than others.
- Start chopping the leaves slowly. Don’t rush! You can go as slow as you want — just don’t cut your fingers. As you chop, move the blade across the pile.
- The motion you need to use a chopping, not slicing; it’s a simple up-and-down movement of the blade.
- Adjust the consistency of your chopped rosemary by continuing the chopping motion until you are happy with the texture.
- You will likely have to clean the knife blade regularly. Chopped herbs love to stick to the metal — if you don’t remove them, your chopped mixture won’t have a uniform texture. Just wipe the side of the blade down and place the un-chopped herbs back on the pile.
- You may also need to frequently reassemble your rosemary pile — it will spread out quite a lot while you are chopping the herbs. So, to make your life easier (and the process quicker), give the pile a chop, then reassemble it. Then chop it again, then re-assemble it.
- Do not wet your knife blade to “prevent the herbs from sticking” — it doesn’t work for herbs. Even worse, it changes their consistency and can make them lose flavor!
How To Chop Rosemary With A Mezzaluna Knife
Another technique that works incredibly well for chopping rosemary (and other herbs) is a mezzaluna knife.
This knife has been specially designed to quickly and effectively chop herbs. That’s literally all it’s supposed to do!
So if it works so well, why isn’t it the number one choice?
Well, as we’ve mentioned, everybody already has a (chef’s) knife — a surprisingly low amount of people have also invested in this specialized herb knife.
Now, what does this knife look like? There are a couple of designs, but most of them are two-handed. There are one-handed blades, but personally, we find them trickier to work with.
You also get some mezzaluna knives with two blades, while others only have one. Whichever design you choose depends on your preference — pretty much like it does when choosing any other type of knife.
The blade is super curved with handles facing upwards at both ends. When using it, you will create a see-saw motion across the pile of herbs.
- Remove the leaves from the rosemary stalks.
- Place them in a single pile on a flat chopping board or inside the special curved board that comes with the knife.
- Start cutting the rosemary leaves in a see-saw motion — this isn’t an up-and-down chopping motion, but a smooth glide from side to side. The movement will be the same for all of the mezzaluna designs.
- Keep cutting the rosemary leaves until you are happy with the consistency.
- The herbs tend to stick less to these blades because they glide through. Nevertheless, you will still need to clean off the blades between chops.
- It helps if you have the special indented chopping bowl that comes with some of these knives — it helps keep the herbs in a pile so you don’t have to.
How To Chop Rosemary With A Herb Scissor
There are two designs for herb scissors. They both have a similar design, they just work in different ways.
First, you get the actual (and original) herb scissor. This tool has a scissor-like design and is fitted with multiple blades.
This particular tool won’t work well for picked rosemary leaves, but it works great for herbs that you can use the stalk of, like parsley!
The one we are focusing on today is the herb roller.
It looks like a cross between herb scissors and a pizza cutter — funny, we know, but super effective!
It also has multiple blades, but instead of cutting the herbs as you would with scissors, you continuously roll over the picked leaves like you would with a pizza cutter.
Each design is an incredibly handy tool that works very efficiently. The leaves don’t stick to the blades as much as with the previous two methods, plus the tools are quite cheap!
- Pick the leaves from the stalks and place them in a pile on a flat cutting surface.
- Continuously “roll over” the picked leaves in a back-and-forth motion. The multiple blades will slice through the leaves without bruising them.
- Keep rolling until you are happy with the consistency.
- Re-edging these blades are nearly impossible. Luckily, a lot of the tools come with detachable blades so you can simply replace them with a new, sharp set.
- Removing the blades also makes them easier to clean properly. Just make sure you always dry the metal well so the blade doesn’t ever rust.
- Even though this tool works quickly and efficiently, you should still re-assemble your pile of picked and chopped leaves. This will ensure you consistently slice the herbs into even pieces.