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
    June 28, 2020 at 11:34 am

    I just ordered this….I have so much arthritis in my hands I think I will love it!!!! I am going to order one for my son if I love it too. Thank you I love your recipes and all your super helpful hints.
    I just made your chocolate chip peanut butter scones for my husbands birthday. DELICIOUS….they do melt in your mouth. We love scones!!!!

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 12:22 pm

      Hey Debbie, this should certainly cut down on a lot of hand motion. And I’m so glad you loved those scones…I do too 😉

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 11:21 am

    I’m a lover of chopped salads also! I live in south Florida, and we eat a lot of different kinds of salads in the Summer. Will the alligator chopper chop head lettuce?

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 11:26 am

      I’ve used it for iceberg and radicchio, and it works great. It really just depends on how dense your head of lettuce is, the denser the better. Of course lettuce isn’t too hard to chop manually, but I’m often really pleased with the even results I get from the chopper. You need to slice the lettuce first into flat slabs, and then use the chopper.

      • Reply
        June 28, 2020 at 11:42 am

        I’m going to give it a try. It’ll also be great for making salsa to put on grilled fish!

        • Reply
          June 28, 2020 at 12:20 pm

          One of my favorite things…

  • Reply
    Patricia Walker
    June 28, 2020 at 10:38 am

    This looks amazing. I’l definitely consider this. Do you have a favorite mandolin? Thanks.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 11:21 am

      Great question, I’m in the market for an upgraded mandoline, it’s another tool I use all the time. I think I’m going to purchase a heavy duty one, but haven’t decided on a particular model yet.

      • Reply
        June 28, 2020 at 11:39 am

        I have the best mandolin..the brand is Horner….the original Horner….it is fantastic. So easy to use and
        clean and I can stand it up in the corner of my counter….out of sight. I’m not sure where it was recommended but I LOVE it. It makes fantastic potato chips in the microwave. Takes a little time
        but it so easy. They are amazing…and keep well too.

        • Reply
          June 28, 2020 at 12:20 pm

          I’ll look it up today!

        • Reply
          June 28, 2020 at 2:22 pm

          Is your mandoline Horner or Borner? I can’t seem to find Horner brand mandoline and I’m in the market to replace almost my entire kitchen tools. Ordering this chopper as well!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 10:22 am

    I love an Israeli salad but chopping everything so fine is a pain. So I ordered one. To the store to buy veggies.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 10:27 am

      This is ideal for Israeli salad, I like mine on the chunky side so I use the larger grid, but the smaller one is probably a better size for an authentic version.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 10:20 am

    When I was a kid, even a young adult, my mom would set me to chopping an hour (!) before she needed the ingredient. It took me sooooo long. I think it’s one of the main reason I rarely cook.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 10:28 am

      You sound like the perfect candidate for this chopper. The main reason I hate chopping is that I inevitably nick myself, and this avoids all that.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 9:54 am

    This has been on my list for awhile. But this post pushed me to order it! Ordered through your link and I plan to get another one for my daughter who hates chopping things!

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 9:57 am

      I’m pretty sure you both will love it 🙂

      • Reply
        June 29, 2020 at 6:11 pm

        It arrived today. Just watched a couple of YouTube how-tos and can’t wait til my days off work this week to give it a try!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 9:54 am

    OK – I’m just about there, Sue. Just one question before I lay out the big bucks – does it take a lot of force to press down on the harder veggies like carrots, onion and potatoes? I have issues with this and wonder if it will take calling in Mr. Squash for the harder veggies. Thanks!

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 10:25 am

      haha, I know just what you mean…the chopping motion is very smooth and easy generally, the only time it takes pressure is with something extra hard like raw beets or thicker carrots. When I’m chopping peppers it helps to orient them skin side down for easier slicing. But good news, I’ve never had to ask the ‘Mr.’ for help!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 8:56 am

    I ordered the Alligator plastic version in the smaller two grid sizes. I haven’t yet received it, but am very excited to start using. I’ve wanted this tool since I saw your post last year!

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 9:15 am

      The plastic one will last you long enough to know if you want to upgrade. And if you aren’t doing heavy duty chopping it should be fine. Hope you love it Cheryl 🙂

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 8:14 am

    What is the difference between the more expensive model 3093- Amd the less costly?

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 8:18 am

      Hey Ruth ~ I’m not sure which other one you’re referring to but it could be “renewed”, meaning it’s a used model that’s been refurbished. The other less expensive models are made from plastic and they don’t hold up well, I’ve tried them.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2020 at 7:43 am

    Sue – how long have you had your chopper, and how does one keep the blades sharp? Is it dishwasher safe? thanks in advance – Kathleen

    • Reply
      June 28, 2020 at 7:46 am

      I’ve had mine for about 4 years, and I was surprised to find that my blades haven’t dulled. Part of the way it works is the leverage you get when you chop down, so it isn’t all about sharpness, if that makes sense. It’s dishwasher safe, but mostly I just rinse in cold water.

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