Those new to the kitchen often find it difficult to tell the difference between diced and chopped.
However, it’s important to know exactly how these two commonly confused knife cuts are different.
That is especially if you want to progress further in your cooking journey.
Whether the recipe says to dice onions or chop tomatoes, the ingredients usually look the same.
Since it’s common to rush when preparing meals, most cooks are tempted just to give everything the “rough chop”.
Sadly, though, this affects how your meal cooks and turns out entirely.
Let's go over the two knife cuts that are frequently confused for each other.
Although they are similar in certain ways, there are tiny yet significant parts about them that remain distinct.
Chopped vs Diced
Say you’re whipping up a salad that calls for chopped peppers and diced chickens.
Both directives basically call for you to cut said ingredients down into little pieces.
But how little and in what shape should these pieces be in?
Here’s the difference between pieces that are chopped and those that are diced.
In a nutshell, chopping is cutting down food items into pieces.
In some recipes, you may even be told to chop pieces coarsely or finely.
A coarse chop results in larger chunks that are roughly three-quarters of an inch.
On the other hand, a fine chop is significantly smaller at less than half an inch.
Unless specifically stated, chopped ingredients can range from one-half to three-quarters of an inch.
While size-wise, these pieces should be similar, they don’t have to be the same.
Chopping is among the most common knife cuts. It results in the large-size pieces typically called for in many recipes.
How Is It Done?
To get to the bottom of this chopped vs diced conversation, let’s first learn how to chop correctly.
Most kitchen creations usually revolve around chopping.
A coarse chop for most meats and soups, a fine chop for sharply-flavored vegetables, and a regular chop for everything in between.
In chopping, size is more important than shape.
This freehand method makes chopping essential in creating all sorts of dishes, particularly those requiring blended or pureed ingredients.
It’s also ideal for ingredients with small and uneven in shape.
Arguably, everybody’s go-to chopping method is the back-and-forth technique.
It involves a sharp-edged chef’s knife and an even cutting board.
The curved blade of a chef’s knife helps one execute this particular method easily.
Step #1: Remove Unusable Parts
You’ll want to get rid of any stem, skin, or other indigestible parts of your ingredient.
For green leafy vegetables like parsley, make sure to roll the leaves tightly together.
Step #2: Position the Ingredients and the Knife Properly
Place the ingredient at the center of your cutting board.
Hold the knife right above it, resting your other hand on the back of the blade to keep it steady.
In case you’re using large ingredients or the rough chop technique, you’ll want to use your non-dominant hand to hold the ingredient in position.
Claw your fingertips inward to keep them away from the blade.
Step #3: Start Chopping or Slicing
Push the blade down into the ingredient and start rocking.
Use various angles as you rock back and forth, making sure the blade’s tip never leaves the chopping board.
If necessary, stop to gather the pieces that have spread out and then resume chopping.
Again, for large ingredients, you’ll want to slice into the item at one-inch to three-quarters of an inch intervals.
Then take each piece, and slice it using the same intervals, this time in the opposite direction.
When it comes to the difference between diced and chopped, dicing involves a more precise and typically smaller cutting method.
The technique aims to accomplish uniformed cubes ranging from small to large sizes.
The small dice measures a quarter of an inch, the medium dice is about half an inch, and the large dice comes in at three-quarters of an inch.
In some recipes, diced measurements are specific, in others, not so much.
Generally, though, cooks who trust their instincts will usually get the dice size right, specified or not.
For example, they’ll usually know that a large dice is better for the chicken in curry.
The salsa Fresca, on the other hand, will require small to medium diced tomatoes.
How Is It Done?
In the diced vs chopped differentiation, it’s crucial to know how the latter is done just as much as the former.
In the dicing technique, you use a knife to create small and uniform pieces.
A little more intricate than chopping, dicing lends itself to side dishes, toppings, and other parts of a bigger dish.
When you take the time and effort to dice ingredients correctly, you can cook meals evenly.
You can also create a professional-looking final plating.
As mentioned, before starting with any cutting activity, make sure to secure a stable cutting board and a well-sharpened knife.
Serrated knives are best for soft-skinned produce, while chef’s knives work well with dense ingredients.
For this particular example, we’ll show you how to dice an onion.
Step #1: Cut Your Ingredients Into Manageable Shapes
It’s important to keep in mind that most ingredients take an irregular shape. This is also true for the onion.
Before dicing an onion, you’ll want to cut it into a more manageable shape by slicing off its stem end.
Step #2: Cut the Ingredient in Half
Next, cut the bulb right at its center to create two equal pieces.
Take one piece, then peel off its skin. You now have to lay its flat side against the cutting board.
Step #3: Slice Laterally
Start slicing laterally into your ingredient about two or three times at the dice size you desire.
Whether a quarter of an inch, half an inch, or three-quarters of an inch.
Cut until you reach the onion’s root end without slicing all the way through.
Step #4: Slice Vertically
With the half-sliced onion perfectly intact, slice from the top right down to the bottom using the same intervals.
Step #5: Rotate 90 Degrees, Then Slice Again
Rotate the sliced onion to a 90-degree angle, then start slicing again across the vertical cuts all the way through the root ends.
This should provide you with a decent pile of diced onions.
Is Chopped Bigger Than Diced?
Where rough chopping is concerned, chopped generally results in larger pieces compared to dice.
On the other hand, when it comes to fine chopping, where cut sizes can be as small as a quarter of an inch, diced ingredients are normally bigger.
Nevertheless, the true answer to the diced vs chopped comparison will ultimately depend on the dice and chop size specified in the recipe.
What Is the Difference Between Sliced and Diced?
While this normally isn’t a part of differentiating slicing and dicing techniques, it’s still very much worth knowing the answer to it.
Dicing and slicing, while they're quite similar techniques, hold small yet significant differences.
Slice simply means to cut, but to dice means to cut into small and uniform pieces.
These two actions are normally performed sequentially, with slice coming first.
Difference Between Diced and Chopped: Final Thoughts
Ultimately, the dice vs chop battle comes down to slight differences in the final ingredient size and shape.
The difference between dice vs chop slicing techniques may not seem significant.
That said, as with the various facets of cooking, even the tiniest details can have a huge impact on the final dish.
Chop instead of dice, and you may find large sections of your meal undercooked.
Do it the other way around, and the tiny pieces in your dish could potentially turn to pulp.
There’s a big reason recipes specifically call for you to dice or chop certain ingredients, and that’s to create the perfect taste and texture.
Now that you have a better grasp of these two cutting methods, it’ll be easier for you to create a dish to your liking using either diced or chopped ingredients.
Also, whether these directives are specified in a recipe, your instincts will now be able to point you in the right direction.