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3 cups of leeks in a measuring cup

How To Clean Leeks

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Leeks are grown underground so they can be very dirty. To prevent sand and dirt from getting into your recipes, it is important to clean them well. Here are step-by-step instructions how to clean a leek.



1 leek


  1. If your leek has loose, slimy or browned layers on the outside, peel them down toward the root end as you would a scallion. Cut off the root and the dark green tops. Reserve the tops for stock if desired.
  2. Before you clean the leek, it is important to cut it first. That way you can wash the inner layers of the leek which can hide dirt and sand. To do so slice them lengthwise first. For smaller dice, you can cut them lengthwise twice before cutting them crosswise. Next cut them crosswise for “diced” leeks. You can achieve long julienne-like strips of leeks if you finely cut them crosswise. Alternatively, once you cut them lengthwise, you can also leave them in lengths at this point.

  3. After the leeks are cut, place them in a bowl of cold tap water. Use your hands to break the layers apart. Swish them around with your hands thoroughly so that any sand or dirt will fall to the bottom of the bowl. Lift the leeks out of the water with your hands or a fine-mesh strainer leaving the dirt and sand in the bottom of the bowl. If you pour the leeks out with the water, the dirt and sand will get mixed back into the leeks and defeat the whole purpose! Alternatively, for leeks only cut into lengths, run cool tap water over the leek and separate the layers allowing the dirt and sand to rinse away.

  4. Spread the leeks out on a plate lined with paper towels or a clean dishcloth. Let them dry before sauteeing or cooking. Water inhibits caramelization, so if you want richer flavors from your leeks, it is important to drain them well in this manner.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Vegetable
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 27
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 1 g
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