What is the Etiquette for Cutting a Salad?

Are you even allowed to cut it?

And if so, how do you cut a salad?


Dear Dining Etiquette Expert, I have heard that you’re not supposed to cut your salad. Is this proper table manners and have you got any tips on how you’re supposed to eat it if you can’t cut it?

– E. Benes (Big salads are killing me)


This is a common question that I’m asked at most of our business dining seminars. Many people think they’re not supposed to cut their salads.

Where did this don’t cut your salad idea come from?

The idea that salad should not be cut at the table with a knife probably has origins in the distant past. Old-fashioned knife blades were ordinary steel or iron and they could react with vinegar or citrus juices in a salad dressing. They were also known to discolor or brown the edges of cut lettuce.

Be kind to vegetables month?

For whatever reason many people still think that they’re not supposed to cut a salad.  What if you get one of those salads that’s full of huge pieces of tomato and lettuce? You would swear that some chefs don’t want to hurt the vegetables any more than absolutely necessary. What is it, some sort of be kind to vegetables movement? Why else would they serve such honking big pieces of salad on your plate.

You can’t just stuff those in your mouth

Newsflash — Whatever the reason, the concept is wrong. Salad can be cut with a knife and fork or fork alone.  Feel free to cut your salad whenever it is necessary i.e. whenever the pieces are too big to politely or comfortably cram into your mouth. (This is a scene from our online Dining For Success video training program, where we show you what not to do as well as what to do.)

So do you use American or Continental style with a salad?

You can use either dining style to eat a salad. Handy tip – you can also use the edge of your fork to cut lettuce as long as you don’t saw at it like you’re grinding your fork on your plate. Our advice is that the Continental style works better and is more efficient as you can use the knife to fold lettuce around the fork. (If you don’t know the difference between American and Continental style check out our online Dining For Success training or read this past blog post with dining etiquette style advice “What Style of Eating Do You Use?” )

Eat your big salad

Your mom was right. Eat your salad. Salad is good for you. Remember Elaine Benes in Seinfeld and her big salads. Click here for the video and a  laugh from those salad days of Seinfeld. Hope this dining etiquette advice column helps and keep those questions coming

Posted by Terry Pithers – the business dining etiquette expert and big salad lover

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