Once you know How to Cut and Clean Leeks, you can add this slightly confusing vegetable to a variety of dishes. It takes just a few simple steps to easily slice whole leeks and then remove the dirt they commonly have. After slicing and cleaning fresh leeks, you can use them in healthy soups and stews, roast them in the oven, or sauté them in a pan.  

Four leeks on a white countertop.

What are Leeks?

Leeks are a vegetable in the same family as the onion, garlic, shallot, scallion, and chive.

They have a mild onion flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. When raw, they have a crisp bite and more pungent flavor.

Cooking leeks helps to mellow out the strong flavor and can be accomplished by roasting, sautéing, or even boiling.

When I first tried making the French classic, Potato Leek Soup, I had NO clue how to cut and clean leeks.

I totally thought the leafy dark green parts were the star of the show. (Boy was I wrong!)

Fresh leeks that have been cut and are being cleaned in a bowl of water.

How to Cut Leeks

Cutting raw leeks is a quick and simple process once you understand the basics in this step-by-step guide.

All you will need is a really sharp chef’s knife and one of your favorite cutting boards.

Step 1: Remove the Root

The first step is to find the root end of the leek. Similar to a green onion, it is the white part with small root-like strings.

Move the knife slightly up, no more than an inch. Make a clean slice down, straight through the leek.

One leek on a wooden cutting board with its root being cut off with a sharp knife.

Step 2: Remove the Leaves

With the veggie still on the cutting board, locate the intersection of the dark and light green parts of the leek. Make a cut and remove the dark green leaves

The green leaves of a leek being cut off and discarded on a wooden cutting board.

Step 3: Slice the Leek

For Half Moons:

Slice the white part the leek in half, lengthwise.

A fresh leek that is being cut down the middle lengthwise on a wooden cutting board.

Then cut it into thin strips, across its width.

A cutting board with a fresh leek on it and cutting it into thin slices on a wooden cutting board.

For Round Slices:

Starting at one end, chop leeks into round, thin slices for the entire length. Be sure to keep the slices as evenly spaced as possible.

A wooden cutting board with a fresh leek on it and cutting it into thin slices.

How to Clean Cut Leeks

Since leeks grow in the ground, they are often full of a lot of dirt hidden between all the leek’s layers.

While you can prepare leek pieces by rinsing and washing them before cutting, it’s easiest and most thorough to clean them in a bowl of water. Otherwise, you’re mostly cleaning the outer layer rather than the middle of the leek, where much of the dirt is found.

Step 1: Soak in Water

Add the chopped leeks to a bowl of cold water. Toss them around in the water until all of the dirt detaches from the leeks.

Step 2: Drain in a Colander

Drain the water carefully or use a colander. Pat dry before using.

A colander full of thinly sliced and cleaned leeks.
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.
What part of the leek do you eat?

Although they look like a larger form of a green onion, the edible part of the plant is actually the white and light green part—sometimes referred to as the stalk or stem. The dark green tops of the leek are also edible, but they are quite bitter and are often discarded.

How to store leeks?

Store leeks in a cool, dry place such as the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. If they came in bag, remove the bag before you store leeks to prevent excess moisture from building up. Leeks can potentially last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Selecting the Best Leeks

There are a few things you will want to look for in order to select the best leeks at the grocery store:

  • More white stalk and less green. Unlike green onions, the white part is the portion you eat. Look for leeks that have a longer white, edible stem.
  • Minimal to no yellowing. Yellow spots indicate that the leek is getting old and is not as fresh.
  • Crisp and firm. Select ones that are about the same firmness as an onion. Avoid ones that are soft or have leaves that are wilting.
  • Organic. Since leeks grow in the dirt, they have the most direct contact with harmful chemicals. If available, opt for organic over conventional.
A large soup bowl full of potatoes and leeks blended into a soup being served with toasted baguette bread.

Best Leek Recipes

Your leeks are now in perfect slices, cleaned to perfection, and it’s time to cook them! They’re a great addition to so many recipes.

Leeks taste incredible when roasted in the oven, sautéed in a pan, or boiled for a soup.

Here are a few healthy leek recipes for you to try:

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5 from 10 votes

How to Cut and Clean Leeks

Once you know How to Cut and Clean Leeks, you can add this slightly confusing vegetable to a variety of dishes. Learn to easily cut whole leeks, then clean them by following a few simple steps. 
An image showing how to cut fresh leeks to use the white part for soup and discard the green part.
Yield 1 serving
Prep 5 minutes
Total 5 minutes

Ingredients 

  • Leeks

Instructions 

Cutting Leeks:

  • Cut off the root end of the leek.
    Leeks
    Trimming the root end of a leek.
  • Locate the intersection of the light green stem and dark green leaves. Make a cut and discard the green leaves.
    The green leaves of a leek being cut off and discarded.
  • For half-moon slices: Slice the leek in half lengthwise and cut into thin slices.
    A cutting board with a fresh leek on it and cutting it into thin slices.
  • For round slices: Starting at one end cut the leek into round slices.
    A cutting board with a fresh leek on it and cutting it into thin slices.

Cleaning Leeks:

  • Fill a large bowl with water and add sliced leeks.
    A bowl full of water showing how to clean leeks.
  • Toss leeks around in the water until all of the dirt detaches from the leeks.
    A hand picking up sliced leeks out of a bowl of water after cleaning them.
  • Drain the water carefully or use a colander.
    A colander full of thinly sliced and cleaned leeks for a potato leek soup recipe.
  • Pat leeks dry before using.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 10 votes

Notes

  • Nutritional information is for 1 leek.
Storage Directions
Store leeks in a cool, dry place such as the crisper drawer in your refrigerator. If they came in bag, remove the bag before you store leeks to prevent excess moisture from building up. Leeks can potentially last for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Calories: 54kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 18mg, Potassium: 160mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1484IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 53mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
5 Secrets to Healthier Family Dinners
Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this tonight for my family and it was absolutely delicious! My 11 yo wants me to make more crispy leeks tomorrow! Definitely agree that the lemon wedge and hot sauce are not optional. So good! The potatoes were very easy to make ahead and set aside. Love this! Thank you Teri!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Codi! It’s awesome that your 11 yo loved it. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Vickie! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  2. Thank,you so much for these instructions, I wasn’t sure where to start and now I will look like I know what I’m doing, thank you again!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the instructions, Lisa! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve eaten & enjoyed leeks for decades… and I too questioned, “hey… exactly which part am I using now??” I hadn’t realized that I’d never actually cooked with them until I was standing in my kitchen & looked down at them. After a minute… and possibly another minute, I’d realized looking had become staring… I felt embarrassingly uninformed & somewhat inadequate. Thankfully that passed— 2 days later when I decided to give it another go.

    1. Yes! They can be so incredibly intimidating. But actually pretty simple to cut! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and rating 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Leeks are added to the first and second courses, used in the cooking of cutlets, dumplings, casseroles. Add leeks to salads and appetizers. It is both tasty and healthy. Thank you for the article. Very informative.

    1. You’re very welcome, Emma! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and rating 🙂