fancy food garnishes fancy food garnishes Anyone can turn everyday fruits and vegetables into fancy garnishes. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

7 gorgeous garnishes you can make at home

Don't just leave fancy garnishes to the experts. Learn to make them at home, with these tips.

If you’re like most cooks, you leave the garnishing to the experts and simply serve your food as is. But it’s amazing what a simple little garnish can do to an otherwise plain-looking plate, and if you’re getting ready to host a party, now’s the perfect time to learn. We’d love to see you try your hand at food decorating with these 7 easy food garnishes that call for basic kitchen tools, and ingredients you probably have on hand.

Red onion roses

red onion rose garnish Red onion appears to bloom in this rose garnish. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Red, white, or yellow onions | Paring knife

Carefully remove the outermost layer of dry peel from the onion. Using a paring knife, cut midway into the onion carving out a petal shape, with the point reaching the middle of the onion, and the bottom of the petal lying at the base of the onion. Keep making those cuts around the onion, and then go back through your cuts with the knife to ensure you’ve cut all the way through to the middle. Carefully separate the two halves.

With your knife at an angle, cut around the root of the onion to be able to separate the layers, and then shift each layer slightly sideways so it sits at an angle to the one below it. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning, then roast for 20-30 minutes at 375. Use carrot peels as petals, if desired, and an extra carrot peel rolled up in the center as a bud.

Cucumber leaves

cucumber shaped into a leaf This gives new meaning to 'eating your leafy greens.' (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Cucumber or watermelon peel | Paring knife

Cut 3-4” pieces of cucumber peel off of each side of a cucumber. Use paring knife to carve into a leaf shape. Holding the knife at a 45 degree angle, cut a slit down the center, and then another slit at the opposite angle starting at the same cut point, but moving slightly outward, and then meeting at the same cut point. Cut smaller slits along the outer edges to create a variegated look. Lay under tomato or onion flowers, or carve out of watermelon peel for a fun fruit platter garnish.

Melon hearts or flowers

melon edible bouquet This one's a winner for parties. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Heart- or flower-shaped cookie cutters | Melon or pineapple slices

Slice melons and/or pineapple into 1-inch-thick slices. Press cookie cutter down into melon flesh. Use varying sizes of heart cutters and different colored melons for a beautiful effect. You can lay these on a platter, or stick a wooden or metal skewer into them and create an edible bouquet.

Tomato flower

tomato flowers Your tomatoes never looked so fancy. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Tomatoes | Parsley or cilantro

Using a sharp paring knife (serrated is best if tomato is soft), cut around the tomato without stopping until you get to the soft center. Wrap this tomato peel into itself, creating a tomato flower. Garnish with cucumber leaf or sprigs of parsley or cilantro.

Chocolate swirls

chocolate decorations You can create pretty much anything with melted chocolate and a ziploc bag. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Semi-sweet chocolate | Ziploc bag | Microwave

Pour 3-4 ounces chocolate chips or chunks into a sandwich-sized ziploc bag. Microwave for 10-15 seconds at a time, until warm enough that all chips will melt. Press out air, seal the bag, and knead to be sure all chocolate is smooth and melted. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a large paper plate as your canvas. Snip a tiny piece off of the bottom corner of the bag. Twist the top, and pipe out swirl designs. Refrigerate until hard, and then carefully peel off parchment (or use a spatula to lift off of the plate). Use to garnish cupcakes or a frosted cake.

Strawberry fans

strawberry fans Use this to top cakes, fruit salads or mousse. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Strawberries | Paring knife

Rinse strawberries and pat dry. Turn strawberry upside down, and cut down, stopping about 1/4 inch from the base. Repeat with parallel cuts, about 4-6 (depending on the thickness of the strawberry). Lay strawberry on its side and press down gently to fan. Use to garnish strawberry shortcake, fruit salad or chocolate mousse.

Scallion fountains

scallion fountain garnish The fountain effect is great for salad toppers. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Scallions | Paring knife

Cut the tops off of three bunches of scallions, leaving the white part only. Cut straight down the center stopping 1/2 inch before the root. Turn your knife and repeat that cut, and then repeat twice more in opposite directions. Drop into ice water to keep it fresh until ready to use. The ice will help the flower open up, too.


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7 gorgeous garnishes you can make at home
Don't just leave fancy garnishes to the experts. Learn to make them at home, with these tips.