Garnishing techniques

Written by sarah davis
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Garnishing techniques
A well garnished plate can make a simple meal appear elegant. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Garnishing is the decoration on a plate of food to accent all of the plated elements and bring them together. A garnish should not be inedible, such as a large sprig of herb or uncooked leaf vegetable. It should be an edible component of the plate that is attractive looking and complementary to the other food on the plate. Bring the garnish out by building the food up in the centre of the plate and placing the garnish on top. This configuration makes the food look grand and the garnish stand out.

Fried Garnish

Use one of the main flavour components of the dish, or an item that complements the main flavour, as a garnish for the dish. For example, if you have garlic herb chicken, remove some of the garlic from the chicken, slice a garlic clove thinly and fry it for about a minute until it becomes browned on the edges and chewy. Sprinkle this over the top of the chicken as a garnish that looks and tastes appealing. This can also be done with onions and potatoes by slicing them thinly and frying until they are crisp. For desserts, use thin fried slices of dough, or fried rice noodles as a crispy fried garnish. Pile crispy fried garnishes high on top of the main item.

Fresh Garnish

Use a flavouring herb or vegetable component of the dish as a garnish, or use one that complements the items well. Chives are a good example of a fresh garnish. Slice chives thinly and sprinkle them over top of the main component of a dish to add colour contrast and fresh flavour. For desserts, this may be edible flower pedals, a fresh strawberry, finely grated ginger or citrus zest. A fresh garnish is good to use for summer and light dishes that benefit from the fresh pop of colour and flavour.

Curls, Shapes and Flowers

Traditional French cooking often uses intricately designed cut-outs of meal components as garnish for a dish. An example is a potato flower. Replace mashed potatoes with a potato flower, or turn the foods you were already planning to serve into the garnish. Make a vegetable medley of carrot flowers and pea pods and place them in a waffle potato basket on the side of a plate for a colourful garnish that takes care of the vegetable and starch.


Use a complementing sauce or the pan drippings from the dish as a garnish that frames the plate. Place the food in the centre of the plate; if all of the food components don't fit in the centre, off-centre all the components and place the main item in the centre. Allow the sauce to lightly drip off of the food and wrap around it. Make drips of the sauce on the plate.

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