Kitchen Skills – Cutting an Onion

Let’s switch gears for a moment and talk about one of the things I hate doing most in the kitchen – cutting an onion.  Cutting onions is a necessary evil.  They are the foundation to so many good recipes, it’s hard to avoid.  It doesn’t matter what variety of onion (white, yellow or red/purple), it doesn’t matter if the onion is kept at room temperature, or if it has been refrigerated or kept in the freezer briefly to minimize the fumes… onions always bring tears to my eyes.  I’ve thought about using protective eyewear, but I’m not keen on onion goggles.

My solution?

Option 1: Try to get someone else to cut/chop/dice the onion (when this option fails I move to option 2).

Option 2: Try to cut it as fast and safely as possible and move on to the rest of whatever dish I’m working on.

When someone showed me this trick… it changed my life. The onion still makes my eyes leak awesomeness, but at least I get it over with faster.

Broken down in to three sections of photographs.

Stage 1: Peeling the onion

  • Cut off the two ends
  • Lay onion on one of the fat edges, and cut through the center
  • Peel each halfDiptic-2

Stage 2:  Large dice 

  • Use your knife to make cuts almost all the way through the onion half, spacing them out in increments equal to how large you desire your dice
  • Once you make cuts across the half, turn it 90 degrees and run your blade through the onion.Diptic-3

Ta-Da! Diced onion.

Bonus pictures! – Example of a smaller diced onion.  As your making your cuts across the half of the onion, make them closer together to result in a smaller dice.Diptic-4

Hope this method is helpful to you if you also suffer from weepy-onion-eyes like I do.  How do you get through this undesirable task in the kitchen?  What tips can you share with me?

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8 Comments

  1. jeffsaari says:

    Years ago in High School I worked as a dishwasher and my job included peeling onions and potatoes. One tip/trick I learned was keep a glass of ice water next to you/your onion. Somehow this would absorb something. I’m not 100% sure what it did, but I find it useful. Good luck and keep the tears at bay.

  2. Barbara says:

    Another similar way is to cut the top end off, leaving the root end intact, then cut in half from root end to tip, and then do the slicing from tip to root, but not cutting in to the root. The slicing and dicing is same technique you showed, but leaving the root end on, holds the onion together until you’re finished.

  3. emily says:

    Hey Cin! I know there are a ton of supposed “solutions” for onion tears, but the best I’ve gotten is to stick your face (rather than the onion) in the freezer for a few secs when the tears start rolling. It’s probably more shocking than anything — I doubt the tears are actually freezing to your eyeballs, but at the very least it’s a bit soothing. Great tips. 🙂

    • cindyelkins says:

      Em – love this suggestion! I would love to see this on a cooking show. Host starts tearing up, so they abort cutting the onion to put their face in the freezer. Talk about quality TV. 🙂

  4. Janet says:

    I’ve heard that if you peel the onion under running water before cutting, that this somehow helps the tearing factor. Don’t know if it works though because I’m usually in a rush and forget to try it!

    This is off topic, but there are other foods that make you work hard to get to the ‘meat’ of the matter. Like pomengranets! Love them, but those seeds squirt juice everywhere! Do you have any ideas on how to remove the seeds?

  5. Pingback: Martin Yan – Oh yes, Mr. Yan Can Cook | Like Write on Rice

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