Bell peppers can appear difficult to dice due to their unusual shape and number of seeds. However, it is important to learn how to correctly chop a pepper so you do not waste any edible sections or make a mess. The purpose of this instructable is to show a safe method to dice a pepper, contain the seeds, and throw away as little as possible. Even if you are a novice cook, if you can hold a knife and make basic cuts, you can learn to easily chop a pepper in under five minutes. At the end of the instructions, you will have a new skill that allows you to add delicious, healthy bell peppers to any meal you want!
- A sharp chef knife*
- A cutting board**
- A bell pepper***
* A sharp chef knife is ideal for this project because sharp knives make cleaner, quicker cuts and are therefore safer, as well as the length of a chef knife easily spans the width of a pepper. However, if you do not own a chef knife, any sharp, long knife would also work.
** A cutting board is preferable to cut on because it is built to handle knives and repeated use. However, any flat surface you are comfortable cutting on is acceptable.
*** Any color of bell pepper works for this project, as long as it is clean. I diced a red pepper, but you do not need to. This instructable is only for bell peppers though, so this technique does not necessarily apply to other kinds of peppers.
Because this project does involve a sharp knife, remember to keep one hand entirely on the handle and the fingers of your other hand away from the blade at all times. You do not want blood on your pepper, even if it is red.
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Place a clean cutting board on a flat surface.
Using the cutting board and chef knife, cut the stem off your pepper (see photo).
Note: If your pepper does not have a long stem, like mine, you can skip step 2. You just want your pepper to have as short of a stem as possible so it will lay flat in step 3.
Place the pepper in the center of the cutting board with the stem side down.
Identify the segments on the bottom of the pepper (see photo).
Note: Bell peppers naturally grow into several distinct segments separated by indents. You can see in the photo that my pepper had four segments (white arrows) and four indents (black arrows).
Beginning as close to the center of the bottom of the pepper as possible, cut down to slice off a segment, avoiding white flesh, seeds, and the stem on the far side (see photos).
Note: Once you cut into the pepper, you will be able to see the white flesh and seeds. The indented portions of the pepper are where the white membranes and seeds attach. It is best to make a small cut, look into the pepper to see where the seeds and inedible sections are, then cut around them as you cut toward the stem (see photos). This will allow you to only cut the portions of the pepper that you want to eat, while keeping the undesirable sections together.
Cut off the remaining segments using the same method.
Note: Once you cut off one segment, it becomes very easy to see the seeds and membranes and cut around them for the remaining segments.
Set the cut segments off to the side of the cutting board. The remaining pepper should resemble the photo above.
Note: Notice how the pepper remains contain minimal flesh, all the seeds, and stem. This is how this technique creates little mess and little waste.
Compost or throw away the pepper remains.
Face the segments skin side down, top to bottom on the cutting board (see photo).
Note: The skin side faces the cutting board for safety reasons. The skin side of a pepper is tougher and the knife has a more difficult time cutting through it. Sometimes, if you put too much pressure on your knife and cut through the skin side first, your knife can quickly pop through the pepper skin and cut you. The fleshy side of the pepper is easier to cut into, so you can control how quickly your knife cuts through the pepper and avoiding hurting yourself.
Line up your knife lengthwise with one segment.
Move the knife about ¼” into the pepper segment (see photo).
Cut down lengthwise to create a ¼” strip.
Cut all the segments into ¼” strips in this fashion (see photo).
Gather the strips together into a bundle.
Place the bundle on the cutting board stretching left to right (see photo).
Note: Make sure the tips of the strips are lined up evenly on the cutting board so that when you dice, your pieces will all be the same size.
Hold the bundle down with one hand and cut about a ¼” section off the tips of the strips to dice the pepper (see photo).
Continue cutting off ¼” sections of the strips until you reach the end of the strips.
You have now finished dicing your pepper! Congratulations! (see photo)