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Blanching Fennel for a Salad?

When, if ever, would you blanche a fennel bulb for a raw, cold, salad? I mean, even if you take off the "tough outer leaves" and cut away the core (like all the recipes say), raw fennel can still be quite tough and not crisp.

Does it depend upon the type of fennel or whether it's male or female?


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  1. Never heard of blanching fennel for salad..just slice it very thin. It's crisp if fresh.

    2 Replies
    1. re: serious

      I ask because some people suggest it, and I wanted to know if anyone thought it would make a better salad.



      1. re: TexasToast

        I serve fennel salads pretty often, particularly for company and I've never blanched the bulb. Given the positive effect of blanching on some crudites, I think it's worth investigating. I'll give it try and try to remember to check in with my results!

    2. I've blanched fennel for use in a salad and I think it's a good step. It doesn't make it too limp but does make it easier to eat.

      1. I'm in the "never blanched" camp. Have fixed many a fennel salad and never blanched. It's the crispness that you want in the salad. I would think that blanching would make the fennel limp or at least soft, not what I would want. Dress the salad a little early and I think it will be outstanding.

        1. I'll try the blanching method next time. But, usually I just toss the shaved fennel with the dressing ahead of time and have pretty good results. Add some of the fronds to the mix for a textural and flavor contrast.

          1. I never blanch fennel for salad. Besides changing the texture, some of the fresh licorce taste is lost.

            1. I never blanch it, but often macerate it in fresh lemon juice and salt for 10 minutes while I make the rest of the salad. It wilts a little and is great with baby arugula that's tossed in EVOO.

              1. Okay, I tried it raw and I must be using bad fennel. I took off so many outer layers, I was left with what I thought would be crisp and tender, but some parts were still tough.

                Blanching for a minute and then refreshing in ice-water didn't seem to make any difference, except for the loss of some flavor.


                4 Replies
                1. re: TexasToast

                  Did you slice it really thin? I make various fennel salads and haven't had a problem and have never blanched. But maybe, as you suggested, you just had some tough fennel - the fact that said it wasn't crisp suggests to me that your fennel might have been old. I know there is some wisdom about female vs. male bulbs - one being better raw - I'll try and find it for you.

                  1. re: MMRuth

                    Well, how thin are we talking? Razor-onion thin or like 2-3mm thickness?


                    1. re: TexasToast

                      Close to razor/paper thin - alot of the recipes I use call for using a mandoline, which I don't have, so I just do my best w/ a knife.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Okay, I'll dig out the mandolin and see how it goes.



                2. With a bit of olive oil and a very simple salad, i think mandoline sliced fennel is all right. But the absolute best fennel salad condiment is oven roasted fennel. Chop it in bite sized chunks. You can use any part, basically, except for the impossibly core/base. Toss it in olive oil, s&p, oven at 350 for awhile and it caramelizes, the anise flavor is just a bit mellowed and very complimented and the fennel itself becomes tender. It's the absolute best!