The Real Reason Some Ingredients Need To Be Minced

We won't mince our words: chopping ingredients finely into even pieces is a skill that takes practice, one that many do not bother to acquire. Some people may simply opt to roughly chop up ingredients into uneven pieces when the recipe calls for mincing. However, beware — this could be a huge mistake because the way an ingredient like garlic is cut up can actually affect its taste; And even with ingredients that won't change dramatically in flavor if you opt for a larger chop, you may not achieve the desired outcome if you choose to ignore the direction to mince.

In cooking, to mince means to cut something up evenly into very small pieces, stopping just short of the ingredient turning into pulp. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word is derived from the 14th century and the Old French word mincier, which means "make into small pieces." Mincing takes a lot of careful, deliberate chopping, but there is a reason behind the need for perfectly cut, tiny pieces beyond the recipe developer wanting to make your life more difficult.

Mince to melt in the flavor

Aromatics like garlic, ginger, shallots, and chiles are often called to be minced in recipes, and there is logic behind why such ingredients need to be chopped so finely. Per the Kitchn, mincing allows for the ingredient to be transformed into a state where it can be evenly distributed into other ingredients, and even disappear its own texture. Anytime you are cooking sauce, whipping up a salad dressing, or mixing dip, mincing works best because it gives your dish the flavor of whatever aromatics you're including while allowing the ingredient to blend in seamlessly to the final product. (If you've ever unexpectedly bitten into a chunk of raw garlic while snacking on a yogurt dip, you understand the importance of a good mince.)

Need to brush up on your mincing skills? Check out our basic knife skills tutorial, which includes tips for mincing a clove of garlic. Celebrated chef Ina Garten also has her own unique hack for mincing garlic extra finely with ease if you're a little nervous with a knife.