What Is the Meaning of the Cooking Term Dice?

A Guide to Understanding the Cooking Term Dice

Sharp cuts of vegetables

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Dice means to cut foods into small 1/4" squares using a sharp kitchen knife. These pieces should be as even as possible, usually for appearance's sake. In some cuisines, especially Southeast Asian cuisine, exact sizes of the food pieces are important for even cooking. This term is part of "mise en place" which means to get all the food together and prepared before you start to cook.

Pronunciation: dise • (verb)

Examples: To prepare for the stir-frying, dice all of the produce into small and even pieces.

The Difference Between Chop, Cube, Dice, and Mince

There is a different meaning to the cooking terms "chop", "cube", "dice", and "mince". The easiest way to remember these terms is by size. "Chop" refers to cutting foods into pieces that are not necessarily even, but all about 1/2" in diameter. "Cube" means to cut food into pieces that are even, like a square. The size is usually about the same as the chopped pieces sizes; about 1/3 to 1/2". "Dice" means to cut food into even, small squares about 1/4" in diameter. And "mince" means to cut foods into even, very small pieces about 1/8" in diameter. 

When you first start cooking, it may be helpful to have a ruler on hand to make sure you understand the sizing when preparing food.

Why It's Important

These definitions are important because they are used in recipes so food cooks at a certain time at a certain temperature. For instance, if you chop potatoes but mince onions for a stir-fry, the potatoes will not be done cooking by the time the onions have cooked to a pulp.

Make sure you read all cooking instructions, including descriptions of sizes, carefully before you start to cook.