My Favorite Summer Kitchen Tool, and Why You’ll Want One!

chopped asparagus salad

My Favorite Summer Kitchen Tool? I know it sounds like a sales pitch, but I think of it more as a great tip from a friendly neighbor 😉  I’m so passionate about this vegetable chopper, and I’ll show you why.

cowboy caviar in a floral bowl

So many of my favorite recipes on the blog depend on my alligator chopper for their success (hello Cowboy Caviar).

And while I use it all year long, it really gets a workout in the summer months, so I thought it was a good time to share my secret weapon with you. Plus, it gives me a chance to show off some of my best seasonal recipes 🙂

chopped Italian Salad

The Alligator vegetable chopper is the tool I use almost every day in the summer

This is the one I love, it’s made of steel, with steel blades, and it works perfectly. Trust me, I’ve gone through the plastic versions and they don’t hold up; the plastic just isn’t durable or strong enough. I’ve used the steel model for years and yet I still get excited every time I take it out of the cupboard. It’s fun!!

By the way, if you’ve got kids or grandkids around this summer get them involved in the kitchen, this tool is easy enough for them to use and can help show them how to eat healthier.

alligator chopping tool

The variety of foods I chop with this tool

  • vegetables like carrots, zucchini, peppers, etc.
  • fruit
  • eggs
  • olives
  • tomatoes
  • artichokes
  • cheese, soft and hard
  • dense lettuce like endive, radicchio, iceberg, cabbage, or gem
  • some meat like deli chicken or turkey breast, ham, hard sausage
  • I’ve even diced bread for making mini croutons

chopped Italian salad ingredients composed in a salad bowl

The problem with chopped salads

Chopped salads are a favorite of ours, I’ve loved them since I was a kid. All the ingredients are cut into small, even pieces and the result is not only pretty, but a pleasure to eat. Add some protein and a fabulous dressing and you’ve got an amazing summer meal.  Only thing is…all that chopping! It can be exhausting, and very hard to do it evenly.

chopped chef salad in a wooden salad bowl

In my Chopped Chef Salad, above, and my Chopped Greek Salad, below, I used the larger grid (the tool comes with 3 grid sizes.) to chop everything, including tomatoes, feta cheese, cukes, red onions, and artichokes. Having all the ingredients chopped to the same size gives the salad a professional look, and makes it so much easier to eat than a classic Greek salad.

Chopped Greek Salad in a white bowl

For my restaurant style salsa, below, I used the chopper’s smaller grid to get everything nice and tiny.

I like this technique so much better than making salsa in a blender, because you can still see all the wonderful ingredients, and it gives it great texture.

overhesad photo of restaurant salsa ingredients in a bowl

I use the Alligator chopper for just about all my salsas, whether they’re fine or chunky.

As any salsa lover knows, they can be a lot of work if you try to do it all by hand, and often you’ll crush delicate ingredients. The chopper doesn’t smash or bruise delicate fruits and veggies, so I can use it with tomatoes or berries, like in the strawberry jalapeño salsa, below. I’ve even used it with ripe peaches to make one of my favorite summer meals, grilled chicken with peach salsa.

Making strawberry salsa

One theme that runs through my summer meals is serving fish with some kind of fruit salsa. I serve my spicy fruit salsa over salmon in July and August when so many amazing fruits are in season ~ it’s one of my personal favorite recipes on the blog, just fyi. I do cherry salsa on whitefish, and kiwi on salmon, too.

Roasted Salmon with Kiwi Salsa on a sheet pan with forks and knives

If you read this blog you know I love my bean salads

and I definitely make use of the chopper in these recipes because I want any supporting ingredients to be approximately the same size as the beans, like in my rainbow bean salad, below. Sometimes it might just be colorful peppers and red onions, but it makes such a difference, not only to the look of the salad, but for the eating experience, as well.

a bowl of rainbow bean salad with large serving spoon

It’s not summer here at tvfgi without several different gazpacho recipes

The chopper’s small size grid  works perfectly for the onions, peppers and cukes in a classic gazpacho. And when I’m ready to serve I’ve got the perfect garnish.

Gazpacho Negra in small glass jars

One of the surprising ways I use my Alligator chopper is with tomatoes.

I adore bruschetta, but chopping soft tomatoes by hand is a challenge, and a mess. The chopper actually comes with a plastic ‘bin’ that collects the food and any stray juices. It’s genius.

Tomato bruschetta with white wine

If you love hot peppers like I do you’ll appreciate being able to perfectly dice jalapeños etc without ever touching them. I can make batch after batch of rosé wine hot pepper jelly without any issues.

Rosé Wine Hot Pepper Jelly

For all you grillers out there, there’s a homemade relish just calling your name, and the chopper will help you make it quick and easy. I can’t do my famous tropical hot dog bar without it!

Hot dogs lined up on a tray for a Tropical Hot Dog Bar

And lest you think this is all about fruits and veggies

I also use this chopper for chicken salad!  I wasn’t sure that was going to work, but as you can see in my chicken salad with poppyseed dressing, below,  it does. You can also use it for ham, bacon, etc.

Chicken Salad with Poppy Seed Mayo is a fun take on a classic lunch! ~

And last but not least, the chopper makes pretty amazing fruit salads. You can chop hard fruits like apples, or soft ones like watermelon. It’s a lifesaver with a mixed fruit salad like my fruit salad with coconut dressing.

Pouring dressing on a creamy fruit salad


Happy Chopping!

Feel free to ask me questions in the comments, I’ll answer 🙂

healthy and beautiful chopped salad

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    Leave a Reply

  • Reply
    July 15, 2020 at 8:56 am

    I ordered finally based on this post and love it. I can chop 2 onions for my husband’s favorite cheese and onion enchiladas in no time. But I have a question about cleaning…I’m guessing not the dishwasher so I rinsed thoroughly (I thought) and set aside to dry. The blades on the chopping grid continued to have small shreds of onion that I did not see initially. No amount of sprayer got it off and I cut my finger trying to get the shreds out. What is your cleaning proces exactly and do you have any advice to share?

    • Reply
      July 15, 2020 at 12:30 pm

      I do put mine in the dishwasher on occasion, but I generally rinse out with the sprayer, and use a sponge to ease out any remaining bits. A dish brush works well, too. Any teeny bits that I can’t get out I just leave, they dry and fall out anyway.

  • Reply
    Cher Merriman
    June 29, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    I would like to see this chopper in a demo. Looking at it just sitting there I can’t figure it out, and would therefore not be likely to order it.

  • Reply
    June 29, 2020 at 8:54 am

    I’m in Canada where your alligator chopper is $170 CD on amazon Canada compared to $126 USD on amazon US. Unfortunately this is all too often the case when I decide to check out a product a favourite blogger has recommended. Also, with the tax I’d have to pay on top of the 170 dollars my total cost would be $190.
    I could order through your amazon US link which would be helpful for you, but know from experience when trying to order stuff in the past, besides the cost of the product, I would have to pay shipping costs, (which I don’t pay when ordering through amazon Canada ) I’d also have to pay customs and duty charges plus the exchange rate on the dollar as our Canadian dollar rate is lower than the US dollar, so in the end, it’s even more expensive to order from the US.
    Although I wish I could buy your recommended alligator as it looks to have a lot of very good ratings, being a senior on a fixed income, $190 CD is a wee bit much to take from my pocket book that is constantly getting skinnier, so will have to settle for one of the less expensive brands offered on amazon Canada and hope to goodness the darn thing works “almost” as good as yours. : )
    Have a great day everyone
    stay well

    • Reply
      June 29, 2020 at 9:34 am

      That is so frustrating Joycelyn, I hope you can find a good alternative on Amazon Canada. The plastic versions of this tool should work ok for you, especially since you won’t be giving them the workout that I do here at tvfgi kitchen. Good luck!

    • Reply
      June 29, 2020 at 6:09 pm

      I just received mine and watched some YouTube videos. Looks easy and efficient.

  • Reply
    Ellen Bryant
    June 28, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    Hi, I’m a subscriber for your recipes. I made your recipe for the Strawberry Lemon Blondies. They were Delicious!!!! I’m going to look at the alligator and possibly order one. Chopping isn’t my favorite part of making a recipe. Going to try some of your frozen popsicles. I had put my popsicle mold up and couldn’t remember where I put it. DUH. Found It!!!!!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    Yes Yes Yes I LOOOOOOOVE the Alligator!!

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 4:46 pm

      FOLLOW UP COMMENT to add: I have the “basic” one, that is a sturdy plastic – LOL – and I only use it for onions. But I do LOOOOVE the Alligator and I love this blog + your recipes so, if this fancy and much sturdier Kitchen Tool works good for you – then I’ll try it!

      • Reply
        June 28, 2020 at 6:43 pm

        I appreciate the vote of confidence Lori! I think you’d benefit from the upgraded chopper, I don’t think of it as ‘fancier’…just better made :))

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    I just ordered one from your Amazon Link about 10
    minutes ago and hopefully it will last and holdup as well as the one that you have had for years. I also wanted to see what else you share on your Amazon Link, but was unable to see anything else. How do I find what else you recommend. Thank you for your help. Have a grand day.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 3:02 pm

      I’m excited for you Louisa, I know it will hold up for you, the whole thing is steel, you couldn’t break it if you tried. I do have an Amazon ‘shop’ which is basically just a collection of stuff I like and use, there’s a link at the top of my blog, and I’ll leave it here.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    I ordered one of these several months ago after reading about it on your site…I ABSOLUTELY love it and use it all the time. It makes chopping a breeze and so easy to clean up after using!

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 2:59 pm

      Oh good Amy! I don’t sound so much like a crazy person now 😉

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