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It seems like lots of recipes these days specify to cut long vegetables (like carrots) on the bias (diagonally) rather than straight across.

It seems to me that this results in extra wastage at the ends of the vegetable.

Is there actually any advantage to cutting vegetables on the bias, or is it just a trendy presentation thing?

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    Cutting on the bias doesn't necessarily increase waste. Depends on the vegetable. Zucchini yes, but beans and carrots, no.
    – FuzzyChef
    Aug 11 at 15:56
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    It's only extra waste if you don't make use of the pieces you cut off at the end. Aug 11 at 20:30
  • good point re:waste. I'd forgotten about e.g. using scraps/ends in stock
    – Tristan
    Aug 12 at 10:28
  • I don't know whether anyone would mention it in recipes for this reason, but am I the only one who has been asked to cut like that for the mere practical reason that circular slices (as you get them when cutting carrots, sausages, etc. straight across) can easily roll off the table after cutting whereas diagonally sliced ones are less likely to do so due to their oval shape? Aug 12 at 21:17
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    I usually snack on the “wastage” while I’m prepping, so it’s not wasted. Aug 13 at 2:32

2 Answers 2

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By cutting on the bias a little more surface area is exposed, and the interactions we are interested in for flavour (between food and tongue, and between ingredients within the dish) are all about surface area.

Beyond that, it tends to be regarded as more interesting and pleasing presentation, and results in larger pieces of food which are easier for the diner to see and pick out (with hands or cutlery). If the goal is pieces as small as possible (another way to increase surface area) then traditionally food gets diced or minced; cutting on the bias tends to happen where the intention is that the ingredients will be visible and appreciated by the diner.

Regarding the unused ends of what you are cutting, depending on the context the ends could be used in the dish (if you are not too fussy about presentation), used for other things like stock (especially if you are working with large volumes), or eaten as snacks for the chef (my preferred option, for carrots at least) in preference to being thrown away if you are worried about wastage.

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    Going along with the initial point, if I'm frying something I want more of those browning products, which generally means more surface area. Pan frying carrots in butter, for example, I get a lot more tasty browned parts when cutting on the diagonal. For the some reason, I just started making cauliflower by slicing it into "steaks" instead of florets - much tastier that way.
    – fool4jesus
    Aug 12 at 19:31
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    There’s one more very convenient reason to cut carrots and a few other things on the bias: the slices don’t roll as well or at all. If I cut a carrot square, several cut discs of carrot usually roll off the cutting board in one direction or the other. Not so if I cut on the bias. Aug 13 at 2:34
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It's for presentation.
There are many way to cut a carrot [of course].
I would only ever cut straight across for a traditional 'English stew'.

On the bias for something more 'Continental' [I know, these descriptions are vague] for a rustic vibe. For 'extra rustic' I bias cut one at 45° then the next cut straight, to make 'triangles', & the same for such as chorizo. I don't know why anyone would assume a French farmer's wife [antiquated example] cannot cut straight, but it's a perception.

For anything I was preparing the carrots as a side dish, then I always baton/allumette or occasionally jullienne. I don't throw out the edges [see below], I cut them similarly. Personally, I think this brings more of the flavour out. The flavour overall seems sweeter; perhaps because of the difference in balance between carrot outer & inner.

Leith's cooking school has nice examples of each type - though I've not seen turned carrots or potatoes used in a restaurant since the 80s ;)

https://leiths.com/how-tos/cut-carrots

btw, just because you cut most of it on the bias doesn't actually mean you have to throw away the end bits. It's not Masterchef, you're not going to lose points for having two pieces out of every ten that aren't identical ;)

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    "On the bias for something more 'Continental' " What continent are you talking about?
    – Colombo
    Aug 11 at 22:08
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    @Colombo I think used in this context it only ever refers to mainland Europe.
    – dbmag9
    Aug 11 at 22:19
  • I'm deeply disappointed that the turned carrots weren't done on a mini lathe;producing some nice spiralized peelings in the process.
    – bob1
    Aug 12 at 0:42
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    If you want ‘rustic’ looking but quite refined as you can use it to cut tapered items like carrots in a consistent size, see the Japanese ‘ran-giri’ cut: thechefdojo.com/japanese-vegetable-cutting-techniques
    – Joe
    Aug 12 at 1:20
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    @bob1 If you purchase so-called "baby cut carrots"* from the supermarket, that is exactly how they're made. Often starting with weird funky-shaped "ugly" carrots that are otherwise hard to sell, despite being perfectly fine to eat. *(Not to be confused with actual baby carrots that are harvested early so they're smaller.) Aug 12 at 16:22

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