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How to Chop an Onion

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

The only reason I’m going to show you how to dice an onion is that I was an embarrassingly advanced age (relatively speaking) before I finally figured it out myself. And I want to share that with humanity! I don’t want you to be clueless like I was for so many wretched years.

DSC_0073Start by cutting the onion in half from root to tip.

DSC_0074Then lop off the top end.

DSC_0075Then peel off the outer layer.

DSC_0076Then make several small, vertical slices all the way through the onion.

DSC_0078Next, rotate the onion 90 degrees and slice again, creating a dice.

Rocket Science: that’s what I have to offer the world.


Republished from The Pioneer Woman Cooks’ archives.


Comments are closed for this recipe.

collegecook on 5.10.2010

If you hold your tongue to the roof of your mouth while your mouth is open the onion won’t make you cry.

Alexandra on 1.27.2010

Am lovin’ these tutorials!

This stuff right, is what I need to know. The basics, please…where else to go for the basics???

Meredith Crosland on 1.26.2010

Awesome onion tutorial! :) Another way I chop onions, is to call my kids in the room, and hand them the nifty Chop Wizard, and let them go to town. Works like a charm every time!

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fire wife katie on 1.25.2010

Can we have a similar tutorial on how to properly chop garlic? :D

shauna on 1.22.2010

And another comment from me–it is in reply to Bonnie’s question as to why we need to cut onions this way. It obviously isn’t the only way to cut onions, but IMO, it is the safest. With this tecnique, you are not “chasing” the onion with a very sharp knife but are creating a flat and stable surface before you cut into it. It works well with tomatoes as well.

shauna on 1.22.2010

Never mind. Just saw the Wusthof knife comment. Cool!

shauna on 1.22.2010

Hmmm. I had a lady teach me this tecnique when I was a teenager and have never forgotten it. Good thing, I use about 4 onions a week.

My question is, what is that awesome looking knife you are using?

Rachel on 1.22.2010

Try rinsing the peeled onion in cold water before chopping – that helps me sometimes!

Love this method of chopping, though I usually slice vertically then horizontally halfway through to the root as well, since I usually can’t get my slices to be that thin!

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barefootphotographer on 1.22.2010

Ahhhhh a Wusthof knife, don’t you just love that knife?!?

I bought mine from a little kitchen shop in Memphis about 4 years ago. I don’t know how I ever survived without this wonderful knife.

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sweetiepies on 1.22.2010

Thanks Ree! I did learn this years ago watching Two Hot Tamales on the Food Network. I loved their show! They offered lots of hints like how to pick fresh fruits and vegetables. Like you know when a pineapple is ripe when you pull one of their spiky leaves out easily. Tips I have never forgotten!

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sarahh on 1.22.2010

this was so helpful! i make a mess of an onion when i try to chop it!

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Emilie on 1.21.2010

i got strips last night…oops, i guess i won’t from now on though!!

Kristin on 1.21.2010

Excellent! My husband is always complaining that I cut the onion wrong. He’s right, but I’ll never tell!

Georgia.Pellegrini on 1.20.2010

Some people call it the “no tears method”, but I still tear up every time…

Karen on 1.19.2010

Thank you so much! That makes it look so easy.

maryclaire on 1.19.2010

And…if the onion still makes you cry, hold an unlit match in your teeth while you cut. It takes the tears all away! Really :) (A bit hard to talk while you do it, but worth it if you don’t like to cry when you cut onions.)

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C.C. on 1.19.2010

I was a good quarter-century old before I finally learned how to do this the correct way. Thank you for sparing many, many folks from chopping onions incorrectly for as long as I did!

My Card Making site!

Maija on 1.18.2010

Here’s how I cut an onion… Cut off root and tip, peel outer skin, cube it. Place it in my Tupperware Quick Chef and chop it sans tears and sneezes! :)

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poncacitygal on 1.18.2010

Thanks for the tip!!! Never thought of cutting it in half. Makes it a lot easier.

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granitegirl on 1.18.2010

I learned a similar way on Food Network not long ago. But I don’t cut it in half first- your way looks easier. I’ll have to try that.

Taissa on 1.18.2010

Do it with some water in the mouth so you won’t cry.

Nona on 1.18.2010

I find to stop all the crying you put the onion in fridge for half an hour or one hour it works good for me! Good luck!

Lisa on 1.17.2010

Did you see Julia
Child in the onion chopping scene….too funny! I didn’t know there could be a onion chopping “winner”!

Bonnie on 1.17.2010

This may be a dumb question, but… why does anyone need to “learn” to cut an onion? I don’t think I do it the way PW shows us, but what is the benefit of using this method? I’m not trying to be flip or disrespectful or anything (I love you, PW!!!) but why do we need to cut onions this way?

Shirley Hicks on 1.16.2010

Okay, now I feel like a real dork! LOL

Anne on 1.16.2010

I’ve heard, but not personally experienced this, but was told that if I place an onion in the freezer for awhile before chopping it that I won’t “cry”, Have you tried this technique???

Gail Parmentier on 1.16.2010

I’ve been able to dice onions, but a) it isn’t always pretty, b) seems to take me forever c) I pawn it off on my hubby when possible. Hubby wasn’t home today when I went to make meatloaf & needed onions diced. Had to go look this up, then followed directions for the most part~ I was using an already partially cut onion. But worked great, took A LOT less time. As far as the tears~ I’ve heard the candle thing too, but that doesn’t seem to help much. I’ve noticed that if I’m pulling an onion from the frig~ already cold it seems to reduce the tears, doesn’t eliminate, but does cut down. But as a general rule I don’t store my uncut onions in the frig. Hmmm~ what to do, what to do.

Thanks Ree for sharing & as someone else put it, “holding our hand.”

Jenny F on 1.16.2010

Any lessons on how not to cry while chopping the onion??? I saw some cool goggles, at Sur La Table, last night. Supposedly they are protection from the fumes that you can use while cutting an onion. They were just not “cute” enough to wear.

Julianna on 1.15.2010

Amen on that le crueset dutch oven comment. I can’t get my clean for the life of me! How!? I ask, HOW?

esavvymom on 1.14.2010

I don’t cry OR cut my fingers, because I use my Pampered Chef Food Chopper! A few chops for course, several chops for fine…and anywhere in between. I’m done in seconds and just rinse and toss it in the DW- no tears!

Kathy in Oklahoma on 1.14.2010

I always have a slice of bread in my mouth-works every time-no more tears

Mary Mistich on 1.14.2010

Did not know that!!!Does it still burn your eyes?

Angela in KY on 1.14.2010

I tried dicing an onion today and knew you had a better way to do it….couldn’t remember it though…then tada here it was today. So next time hopefully I’ll do it right.

Susan in AZ on 1.14.2010

Oh, I finally get it – you only cut off one end! So you use the other end to hold on to? I tried this the other day (after reading this tutorial over on your other site) and made a mess out of the last 1/2 inch. If only I had paid attention to the small but important detail…

Thanks Ree!

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stellap on 1.14.2010

Just saw Leah’s comment about using Barkeeper’s friend or Bon Ami. Barkeeper’s friend also is great for cleaning copper bottom pans, stainless steel sinks, and porcelain sinks. It can help with the Le Creuset, but the bleach works if nothing else does.

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stellap on 1.14.2010

Re cleaning your Le Creuset…. The vinegar and baking soda works sometimes. If you really make a mess (like burning food in it – trust me I have done it), and all else fails – after you wash your pan, put about 1/4 cup of bleach in your pan and fill it with really hot water up to the level that needs to be cleaned, and let it soak until the stains are gone. I think I got this method from Martha Stewart’s website, but I could be wrong about that.

I use the same method to chop onions.

Helen on 1.14.2010

My no tear remedy works for me. I put my onion in the refrigerator an hr. or 2 before I need it. Then, I put on the safety googles I had to wear in my college chemistry class ! Yeah, I look like a goon but it totally blocks any and all fumes from my eyes. I have used my sunglasses before but fumes still get in a little. We have safety glasses for mowing the lawn so bet those would work, too. The main concept is to keep the fumes away!

Victoria on 1.14.2010

I can related, P-Dub. It seemed everyone in my family was a great cook and I could barely boil water, much less dice an onion or cook a perfect egg. I was always singing, playing or shopping. It wasn’t until I as married for a few years that I finally figured out a few things on my own too. And that was long before FoodNetwork or food blogs. It was the Galloping Gourmet, Julia Child and a few others on PBS that helped me. So happy you are here! You make it even more fun for the kitchen challenged.

Leah W. on 1.14.2010

Alright, for you Le Creuset people! Go out and buy yourself a can of Bon Ami or Barkeeper’s Friend. I found a can of Bon Ami at my local hippie foods store (the co-op health food store). It’s often sold where organic/earth-friendly cleaning supplies are sold. It took years worth of dried-on crusted burned stuff off of my stainless steel pans AND my Le Creuset french oven.

Bonus: You can also use it to scrub the sink and the tub!

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Carmela on 1.14.2010

This is a FANTASTIC tip. I have ignored this one for awhile on PW, but finally decided to give it a try. WOW. It takes a quarter of the time it used to. I’m so glad you share this with the world, Ree. THANKS!!!

Lynnette on 1.14.2010

I find that breathing through my mouth instead of my nose while chopping an onion keeps the tears at bay. If I even take one whif with my nose, it’s back to tears, so have to be careful, but it works for me!

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Sheila on 1.14.2010

Ok – so if we stick our tongues out we won’t cry? :) I think we should all post photos of us chopping onions using this technique!

Cindy on 1.14.2010

This was a revelation to me when I recently read your post! My life got a whole lot easier and I started using onions a whole more! I even cry less now because it all goes so quickly with this technique. Many thanks as usual……

pamm on 1.14.2010

I don’t remember where I saw this: try sticking your tongue out the whole time you’re chopping to reduce tears. I don’t have the foggiest notion why this would help, but it always seems to work for me, even if it does sound and look goofy.

Mindi Gaut on 1.14.2010

wish I would’ve read this last night! I didn’t cut the onion properly and had to get 4 stitches in my finger last night! OUCH! And dinner was going to be so yummy : )

mmclassics on 1.13.2010

The suggestion about the refrigerator is REALLY a great help to stop the tears. If the onion is cold, the juices and smells don’t seem to reach my eyes. I forgot this step the other day and was is so much pain!

Tiffany on 1.13.2010

I would love a how to on keeping my Le Crueset nice and bringt. I sometimes use vinegar and baking soda placed in the Le Crueset and bring that to a low boil for a few minutes. It seems to do the trick, but if there is a better way, I’d love to know.

ursula purcell on 1.13.2010

At last no one will laugh at me again.

Cindy G. on 1.13.2010

…it makes me want to cry!

Sheila on 1.13.2010

How do you do it without crying? I seem to be REALLY sensitive to them. I find if I put my contacts in BEFORE I chop an onion it helps. Some days it’s the only reason I put in my contacts.