How to Slice and Clean Leeks
Do you find yourself shying away from using leeks because you don’t know how to prep them? Fear not! Here is a step-by-step guide for How to Slice and Clean Leeks — from trimming, to halving, to washing — and my favorite ways to use them!
While we love leeks around here, I also know they are not always the most intuitive veggie to prep. What’s even more? Many people are not sure how to use them either. Leeks are a great pick to add variety in your veggie-loading journey. Think of leeks as an elevated onion. They instantly add a bit of elegance to a dish while still imparting that delicious onion-like flavor. This post breaks down How to Slice and Clean Leeks (easily!) while also giving you some unexpected ways to use them in your veggie-loaded meals. Let’s get cooking!
How to cut leeks
Step 1: Place your leek on your cutting board. With one hand, firmly hold the white portion of the leek in place. With the other hand, cut off the fibrous green top where it meets the white portion of the leek.
Step 2: Flip the leek around and cut off the root portion.
Step 3: Take your knife and run it lengthwise down the leek, splitting it in half.
Step 4: Place both leek halves cut side down on your cutting board. Slice into thin half-circles. As the layers of the leek come apart, you will notice sand or dirt between them.
How to clean leeks
Step 1: Place sliced leeks into a bowl of water. Agitate and separate layers of leeks with your fingers so dirt can be released.
Step 2: Once clean, use a slotted spoon or your hands to scoop leek slices from water. Or you can pour through a colander.
Step 3: Pat dry before cooking and/or adding to a recipe.
Frequently asked questions about cutting and cleaning leeks
Do you have to wash leeks before cooking?
Yes, yes, yes! As with most veggies, washing before eating is always recommended. However, washing leeks is particularly essential because they get LOTS of dirt and grit stuck in them during the growing process. Fortunately, a quick slice and swish in a bowl of water easily helps all that dirt fall out of your leeks and into the bottom of the bowl.
How to clean leeks easily?
I don’t know about you, but I did not grow up with leeks at the dinner table. They can feel a bit intimidating to know how to prep and where to use them if they are a new veg for you. Fortunately, even though leeks are not as common as onions, they are not as intimidating as they may seem! While leeks do harbor some dirt and sand between their layers, simply slicing, swirling around in some water, and then pulling them out is all it takes to clean leeks—and only takes a few minutes.
Is there an alternative way to clean leeks?
While I’m sure there may be other methods out there, I find thoroughly swishing sliced leeks in a bowl of water is the easiest and most effective way to remove all of the grit and dirt often found in leeks.
Can you eat the green part of leeks?
Yes. While the green leek leaves can be a tough and fibrous, you can—indeed—use the green leaves! That being said, you may not want to use them along with the white part, which is nice and tender. Don’t worry, you don’t have to let these vitamin-loaded tops go to waste! You can use them fresh or frozen to make a cooking stock or to add some flavor and depth to a soup. I suggest you pluck out these woody green leaves before serving—as some people may find them a bit too tough!
How to trim leeks?
Trimming leeks is quite easy once you know what to do! Simply slice off the dark green leaves (the top of the leek) and then slice off the root. From there, you can decide on cutting the leek into round or semi-circle slices. See instructions above as well as the recipe card below—which gives you a step-by-step tutorial on how to both cut and clean leeks.
How far in advance can you prep leeks?
While waiting to trim your leeks until your are ready to use extends their shelf life (whole leeks can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge!), you can prep leeks 2-3 days before you’re ready to use them without much fear of them getting mushy. Of course, if your whole or prepped leeks ever look iffy, it’s always best to toss them. Let’s not let those luscious leeks go to waste! Make sure to have a plan for these elegant veggies when you head to the store and then feast on them in the next few days!
Recipes that use leeks
Not sure how to incorporate leeks into your veggie-loaded journey? These are some of my top leek recipes to get you started!
- Sesame Ginger Chicken & Leek Stir Fry
- Vegan Leek Potato Soup
- Sausage Leek & Mushroom Breakfast Casserole
Did you find this veggie how-to handy and would love to see more?
How to Cut and Clean Leeks
- 1 fresh leek
- Place your leek on your cutting board. With one hand, firmly hold the white portion of the leek in place. With the other hand, cut off the fibrous green top where it meets the white portion of the leek.
- Flip the leek around and cut off the root portion.
- Take your knife and run it lengthwise down the leek, splitting it in half.
- Place both leek halves cut side down on your cutting board. Slice into thin half-circles. As the layers of the leek come apart, you will notice sand or dirt between them.
- Place cut leeks in a bowl of water. Use your hands to agitate and separate the layers of leeks so that the dirt can easily wash away in the water.
- Once the leeks are clean, use your hand or a slotted spoon to remove the leeks from the water. The dirt and sand from the leeks should sink to the bottom of the bowl of water.
- Pat clean leeks dry before cooking.