How to Cut Leeks

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Learn how to cut leeks for using in delicious soups, stews, and other sauteed dinner recipes. Carefully chop the leek and thoroughly wash it to remove every bit of sand.

A diced leek is on a green cutting board next to a large chef knife.

Fresh leeks give a unique mild onion flavor to some of my favorite soup recipes.

The delicious taste they give to the recipe is definitely worth the extra effort it takes to prepare them.

Once you've learned how to cut leeks and wash them to remove every last bit of sand and grit, you'll be ready to soften them in butter and add them to chicken soups, chicken pot pies, and delicate quiches.

Bonus: If you've got a picky eater that swears they don't like regular onions, try cooking with a fresh leek instead! The flavor isn't as strong as a regular onion and fresh leeks have a firmer texture than cooked onions do.

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Why Leeks are Tricky To Cut

A fresh leek is part of the family of vegetables similar to onions.

Though in mimics a green onion in color, only the tender part of the white bulb is eaten. The darker green leafy part is discarded.

Leeks grow in sandy conditions and the course grit can be found all throughout the many layers of each fresh leek.

For this reason, I always chop the leek before washing it, just rinsing the outside doesn't do much good.

When a recipe calls for a fresh leek, be prepared to fully wash your knife and cutting board after chopping the leek.

Alternatively, you could chop or prep all the other ingredients first and cut the leek last.

Helpful Tools You'll Need

  1. Sharp Chef Knife: Leeks have thick stalks, a sharp knife is always a kitchen essential.
  2. Cutting Board
  3. Salad Spinner: The best way to wash a fresh leek and remove every bit of the gritty sand is to use a small salad spinner. If you do not have one, you could use a colander and large mixing bowl. Be sure to read my notes below.

Trim the Root and Tips

First, trim the root end of the leek and discard the tip.

Then, cut the dark leafy green top off the other end of the leek.

See where the leek goes from white to pale green? That entire part of the leek is much more tender.

For my Irish potato soup recipe, I wanted to use a bit of that green color, so I kept just a bit of that dark green base, but the leaves there are definitely much thicker.

Since I planned to puree the soup, it wasn't a problem. If your leeks will remain in whole chunks, you'll want to cut it closer to that pale green part.

The leek is on a cutting board. The top greens have been cut and the bottom roots sliced by a large chef knife.

Once you've cut and discarded the ends, cut the leek in half lengthwise like this:

The leek has been sliced in half the long way on a cutting board.

See all those layers??

Turn each half cut side down onto the cutting board.

Then use your knife to slice each half into thinner strips lengthwise like this:

The leek halves have now been sliced into strips.

Finally, chop the leek into smaller pieces by cutting it cross wise.

Keep your finger tips tucked under as you go and away from the knife.

The leek strips are now being chopped into small pieces with a chef knife.

Rinse the Sand

By now you'll definitely be seeing sand and grit all over your cutting board, knife, and the leeks themselves.

Scrape the chopped leeks into the basket of a salad spinner or a colander.

Start by giving them a thorough rinsing as best as you can.

The chopped leeks are in a salad spinner being rinsed.

How to Use a Salad Spinner

As anyone who has ever been to the beach knows, removing every bit of sand can be a little tricky.

The good news is that sand sinks in water.

To ensure you have completely sand-free leeks for your recipe, follow these easy steps:

  1. Fill the Salad Spinner with Water: With the leeks inside the basket of the spinner, fill the entire salad spinner with water and let it sit.
  2. Gently Swish the Leeks: All those thin layers tend to stick together. Use your fingers to gently swish the leeks that are floating in the water all around and separate the layers so the water can rinse the sand.
  3. Pull the Basket Up: Gently pull the spinner basket up out of the water, straining the leeks as you go. Dump the water from the bowl out.
  4. Spin the Leeks: Place the basket back in the spinner and spin the leeks dry with a couple of pumps on the handle.
  5. Repeat: Repeat steps 1 - 4 until absolutely no more sand appears in the bottom of the salad spinner. It usually takes me about 3 tries before the leeks are completely clean.
The clean leeks are now in the white spinner basket insert of the salad spinner.

How to Use a Colander

If you don't have a salad spinner, you can use a colander and large bowl of water in a similar way.

You just won't be able to spin the leeks dry.

  1. Fill the Bowl with Water: With the leeks inside the colander, fill the large bowl with water and set the colander of leeks inside.
  2. Gently Swish the Leeks: All those thin layers tend to stick together. Use your fingers to gently swish the leeks that are floating in the water all around and separate the layers so the water can rinse the sand.
  3. Pull the Colander Up: Gently pull the colander up out of the water, straining the leeks as you go. Dump the water from the bowl out.
  4. Repeat: Repeat steps 1 - 3 until absolutely no more sand appears in the bottom of the water bowl. It usually takes me about 3 tries before the leeks are completely clean.

Easy Leek Recipes

You can use a fresh leek in almost any recipe that calls for onion but some of my favorites include this simple Irish potato soup and chicken pot pie soup.

Leeks also add a mild onion flavor to a delicate easy quiche or a hearty German sauerbraten.

๐Ÿ“– Recipe

A diced leek is on a green cutting board next to a large chef knife.

How to Cut Leeks

5 from 1 vote
Learn how to cut leeks and wash them to remove every last bit of sandy residue before using them in delicious soups, stews, and sauteed recipes.
TOTAL TIME 10 minutes
PREP TIME 10 minutes
YIELD 1 chopped leek

Ingredients
  

  • 1 fresh leek

Instructions

How to Cut the Leek

  • Trim the root end of the leek and discard the tip. Cut the dark leafy green top off the other end of the leek. See photos above for reference.
  • Cut the leek in half lengthwise. Place each half cut side down on the board and cut again in long strips.
  • Cut the leek into small chunks cross wise.

How to Wash the Leek

  • Scrape the chopped leeks into the basket of a salad spinner. Start by giving the leek a thorough rinse as best you can.
  • With the leeks inside the basket of the spinner, fill the entire salad spinner with water and let it sit.
  • All those thin layers tend to stick together. Use your fingers to gently swish the leeks that are floating in the water all around and separate the layers so the water can rinse the sand.
  • Gently pull the spinner basket up out of the water, straining the leeks as you go. Dump the water from the bowl out.
  • Place the basket back in the spinner and spin the leeks dry with a couple of pumps on the handle.
  • Repeat steps 1 - 4 until absolutely no more sand appears in the bottom of the salad spinner. It usually takes me about 3 tries before the leeks are completely clean.
COURSEVegetables
CUISINEAmerican

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The photo collage shows how to cut the leek on the cutting board and all the chopped leeks in a basket filled with water.

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