How To: Chop and Wash Leeks

I have no idea where I learned this trick for washing leeks, but it works great every time. Leeks make a great addition to many dishes. They can be used in place of onions in stir-fries, quiches, pastas, soups, or as a topping or stuffing for seafood or chicken. The best way to cook them is to bake or sauté in a little olive oil, but they can be added into soups while raw.

Makes: 1 leek

Preparation time: 4m
Cooking time: 4m
Total time: 4m


Equipment: large bowl


  1. Fill a large bowl a little over halfway with clean, cold tap water.
  2. Chop the root off the leek by cutting about 1/4 inch above the roots.
  3. Trim the dark green parts off the top and discard or save for making stock.
  4. If you want your leek cut into rings then slice crosswise across the body of the leek. This means putting the root on your right, the tip on your left and cutting forward and back, not from tip to root.
  5. If you want your leek cut into smaller pieces, then first cut lengthwise (from tip to root). Then cut crosswise to create half-circles. You can chop further if you want diced pieces.
  6. Place the dirty leek pieces into the bowl filled with water and use your fingers to separate the rings. You want to make sure there is enough water in the bowl that the leeks float on the top and do not touch the bottom. As the leek rings separate any dirt trapped between the layers will fall to the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Let the dirt settle for a moment then scoop the clean leeks from the top of the bowl and dry before cooking. Make sure you do not pour the leeks and water into a strainer or the dirt will pour on top of them. You must reach in with your hands or a straining ladle scoop them from the top of the water.
  8. Use as your recipe suggests.