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Let’s dive into exactly How to Clean Leeks! This versatile allium is mild and delicious, but its many layers can hide dirt and sand. Learn to remove it, so you can cook with leeks more often!

two large leeks

First thing’s first.

What are leeks?

Leeks are alliums, which is a plant species that includes garlic, chives, shallots, and onions.

Think of them as a lighthearted, mild member of the onion family.

  • Leeks are similar in taste to shallots, with a sweet, mild onion flavor, and can be used similarly.
  • Leeks are good for building soup bases like Potato Leek Soup, for stir fries and pastas, scrambled into eggs or added to Easy Quiche, or can be served roasted or grilled.
a bowl of washed and cut leeks

How to Use Leeks

Leeks are versatile and add great flavor.

Once you know what they are and how to prep them, I know you’ll start grabbing them from the grocery regularly!

Which Part of the Leek Do You Use?

  • The white and light green part of the leek are used for eating. 
  • The dark green leaves are not eaten on their own as they are tough, but they can be used for flavoring stocks.
  • The very bottom root end of the leek is cut off and not eaten.
cutting and washing leeks for the best potato leek soup recipe

Do You Wash Leeks After Cutting Them?

Leeks are washed before and after cutting.

  • Dirt and sand get between all the layers of the leek.
  • Rinse at the start to get the dirt off the exterior.
  • Rinse again after you cut leeks, so you can really get between all the layers better.
two leeks cut

How to Clean Leeks

The tutorial photos below will show you exactly how to clean leeks using two different methods:

  • Clean the Leeks Fully Sliced. This method works well when you plan to saute the leeks, such as for soups.
  • Clean the Leeks Whole. This method works well for roasting and grilling, when you don’t need the leek further chopped.

Method 1: Cleaning Sliced Leeks

cutting leeks how to on a large wooden cutting board
  1. Rinse leeks. Cut off roots. The root ends of a leek should be discarded.
a cut leek on a cutting board
  1. Cut off dark leafy greens that you do not plan to use, or save them for stock.
sliced leek on a large cutting board
  1. Slice leeks in half lengthwise.
cut leeks for cooking and flavor
  1. Chop each half crosswise in 1/4 inch slices.
a large bowl of soaking green leeks
  1. Place sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water. Agitate with your hands to remove dirt and grit that was trapped between the layers.
a large bowl of cut up leeks for comforting potato leek soup
  1. Scoop out clean leeks with a slotted spoon or drain with a colander. Dry completely with a salad spinner, then place in empty bowl. Proceed with using them for your recipe!

Method 2: Cleaning Whole Leeks

how to cut and prepare leeks
  1. Cut a slit straight through the green parts of the leek. Insert the tip of a knife at about 1/4 inch below the lowest opening of the dark green part and cut to the end of the green leaves, leaving the white part of the leek uncut.
sliced leek on a large wooden cutting board for easy souo
  1. Fan open the leek and rinse thoroughly, running your fingers and the water between each layer. Cut off the leafy ends (can reserve to use for making stock).
cutting and washing leeks for recipes
  1. Cut off and discard the stringy roots. Get ready for roasting, boiling, or sautéing, and ENJOY!

How to Enjoy Leeks

Leeks are great on their own, as well as in a variety of dishes. As they cook, they soften and become more mild.

  • Roasted. Drizzle whole leeks with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast leeks at 425 degrees F for 20 to 30 minutes until caramelized, rotating halfway through.
  • Sautéed. To sauté, cook sliced leeks in melted butter in a skillet over medium-high heat for 8 minutes; season as desired.
  • Grilled. To grill leeks, brush whole leeks with olive oil and place directly on grill or in a grill basket; season as desired.
  • In Soup. A common way to use leeks is to slice them for soups and stews. Try this creamy Vegan Potato Leek Soup and springtime creamy of Asparagus Soup.
  • In Eggs. Leeks are a classic addition to omelets and quiche, such as Spinach Quiche.
  • In Curries and Stir Fries. You can swap leek for onion in any stir fry or curry for a more soft onion flavor. Thai Chicken Curry is beautiful with leeks.
  • In Pastas. Like with stir fries, the leeks add a nice, subtle onion flavor to pastas. You could swap in leeks in Garlic Shrimp Pasta and Penne alla Vodka.

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

How to Clean Leeks

Step by step guide for how to clean leeks! What leeks are, how to wash leeks, which parts to use, what they taste like, recipes, and more!

Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes

Servings: 1 leek (or as many as you need)

Ingredients
  

  • Leeks
  • Water

Instructions
 

Method 1: Clean the Leeks Fully Sliced:

  • Rinse leeks. Cut off roots. The root ends of a leek should be discarded.
  • Cut off dark leafy greens that you do not plan to use, or save them for stock.
  • Slice leeks in half lengthwise.
  • Chop each half crosswise in 1/4 inch slices.
  • Place sliced leeks in a bowl of cold water. Agitate with your hands to remove dirt and grit that was trapped between the layers.
  • Scoop out clean leeks with a slotted spoon or drain with a colander. Dry completely with a salad spinner, then place in empty bowl. Proceed with using them for your recipe!

Method 2: Clean the Leeks Whole:

  • Cut a slit straight through the green parts of the leek. Insert the tip of a knife at about 1/4 inch below the lowest opening of the dark green part and cut to the end of the green leaves, leaving the white part of the leek uncut.
  • Fan open the leek and rinse thoroughly, running your fingers and the water between each layer. Cut off the leafy ends (can reserve to use for making stock).
  • Cut off and discard the stringy roots. Get ready for roasting, boiling, or sautéing, and ENJOY!

Notes

  • Which Part of the Leek Do You Use? The white and light green part of the leek are used for eating. The dark green leaves are not eaten on their own as they are tough, but they can be used for flavoring stocks. The very bottom root end of the leek is cut off and not eaten.

Nutrition

Serving: 1leekCalories: 54kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 1gFat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0.04gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gPotassium: 160mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1484IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 53mgIron: 2mg

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Welcome to the wonderful world of leeks. They’re so glad to be in your life now, and I have no doubt they’ll become one of your favorite vegetables!

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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