The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
Profile photo of Ree | The Pioneer Woman

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.

Linda H. on 1.13.2010

So many great comments! I’m inspired to go and chop some onion!

Magsie M on 1.13.2010

Thanks! I now feel like a professional cook. ;)

Hilary on 1.13.2010

I am so thankful for this post! It is sooooo much easier!!!

Faith Self on 1.12.2010

Exactly how I do it, & I also figured it out in my own kitchen. Aren’t we so smart, Ree? ;)

Vicki Carroll on 1.12.2010

Just about the same as the way I’ve done it for years – – and interestingly, I took a Thai cooking class years ago, which was taught by a woman who was the chef at the Bangkok Cafe (not even sure if they’re even in business, anymore). She was a fabulous cook and instructor, but she hacked off chunks fo the onion as if it were an apple, in the most random fashion you ever saw. It made me giggle, it was so funny. I couldn’t imagine how she had been cooking professionally for so many years, and hadn’t learned this technique. It is reassuring, in a way – even the best of us have a few gaps in our knowledge! I didn’t think any the less of her, and still love her Pad Thai recipe.

Astrid Ferrell on 1.12.2010

I use the horizontal and the vertical when i dice onions. But this way works too.

For the comment about how to stop the tears;

If you put the onion in the fridge for at least a couple hours before you cut it the tears will be gone!

Whitney on 1.12.2010

I love it! I never understood why the professional chefs do the horizontal slice – but you don’t so neither will I!

Dawn M on 1.12.2010

Now how to stop the tears? I’ve tried sucking on an ice cube, not too bad. My SIL says to burn a candle next to the cutting board. That didn’t work for me. Any other suggestions?

Kristin Kunoff on 1.11.2010

I am loving these simple how-to’s you are posting. They are simple, easy, and to the point. Thanks for sharing!

Angel Wheeler on 1.11.2010

Ree, you are my Julia!!! Thank you!

Bill on 1.11.2010

Hmmmmm. Looks as if I’m the only one who cuts the top off first. I figure that it gives me a flat surface that steadies the onion while I cut it in half.

Profile photo of janette

janette on 1.11.2010

That is great! It saves so much time and my onions are all the right size now ! Excellent!

BelovedAimee on 1.11.2010

I actually knew this one…and I don’t even like onions. :)

michelle in the rocky mountains on 1.11.2010

I used this method yesterday (I remembered the post on your site) and it worked beautifully! THANK YOU!!

Now I just need to figure out how to keep from cutting my fingers. :)

Profile photo of sprucehill

sprucehill on 1.11.2010

I started chopping my onions this way after seeing a recipe over on PW cooks! It makes it so much easier, just makes me want to put onions in everything!

Profile photo of mrsjaybob

mrsjaybob on 1.11.2010

Took me a while to figure this out too! Glad I’m not the only one.

Soyon on 1.11.2010

My problem with onions is peeling them… the papery peel always takes forever to come off. AND the copious tearing! Any help on reducing the tears??

Profile photo of MS Hospitality

MS Hospitality on 1.11.2010

Thank you very much from kinda clueless in Houston.

Jesslyn Weaver on 1.11.2010

My father taught us this method as teenagers so that we would know what we were doing when we were on our own. So glad he did! It’s still the method I use when I want a really fine mince, but for almost every onion I cut I use Alton Brown’s Radial (aka wagon-wheel) method for cutting an onion. It is so slick!! Radial cuts around the outside of the onion (not going all the way through to the board) then turn and chop from top to bottom like normal. Fewer steps and a nice even dice.

Profile photo of hammondbride

hammondbride on 1.11.2010

When my mom needed some diced onion, but she didn’t want to use the whole thing she always cut off the root and tip, peeled the skin, and then made vertical and horizontal cuts a few inches into the onion. Then she turned the onion on its side and sliced them the thickness she needed. No tears, no mess, no diced onion you don’t need.

Jenny on 1.11.2010

So long I have wondered how to do this! Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I feel my culinary mind expanding already.

Betsy in Utah on 1.11.2010

No lie, I was laying in bed last night (not sleeping obviously) thinking I really needed to look that up on your website since I’d made a mess of an onion just the day before. I blamed it on my new cutting board.

Lisa on 1.11.2010

Thanks! You make it look so easy!!

Profile photo of

on 1.11.2010

My method is similar at the start, but different mid-way through. I do the thin slices starting at the end that is away from the root end, so that I have semi circles. Then I grasp those together and do a small dice, as if making many cuts across a rainbow.
I’ll give your method a try though, next time I am cutting an onion!

Sandra in BC on 1.11.2010

This is why your cooking site and cookbook are so popular. You don’t just share recipes, you hold our hands while TEACH recipes.

Love it.

Sara on 1.11.2010

I’ve never known how to do that, you made it look easy! Thanks

Stephanie on 1.11.2010

Thanks, Ree. I would like to add something to your instructions…

In step 4 (Then make several small, vertical slices all the way through the onion.), be sure to NOT cut the root. Leave about 1/2 inch (1.27cm) of the root end intact.

I, too, was “older” (45) when I learned. I found a video on Gordon Ramsay’s “How-To” (

THEN only a few months later to find when I was thumbing through The Joy of Cooking (which I bought in 1979) there was an explanation with a drawing in the “Onion-Dicing” section!

The YEARS I spent crying when cutting an onion were wasted tears! :)

Profile photo of Nicole Bojtos

Nicole Bojtos on 1.11.2010

Thankfully my Mom taught me how to cut an onion when I was young because otherwise I think I may never have been able to leave the kitchen (we use MANY onions around here!).

TR on 1.11.2010

That’s how I do it too. :)

Profile photo of julia19

julia19 on 1.11.2010

Thanks – I love a good How To!
And ditto on the above Le Crueset comment. I got a new Dutch oven for Christmas and I haven’t used it yet. It’s just so clean and purty.

JuliP on 1.11.2010

Thanks PW!
Can your next “How to” be a tutorial on how you keep your Le Crueset dutch ovens so clean and new looking? I’ve had mine for 4 years and it looks like it’s been through a war….I noticed in your cauliflower soup recipe, your pans look brand new, maybe they are??? but I have to think that you’re not busting out a new pan when you shoot a recipe?

Michele on 1.11.2010

You taught me something I didn’t know. Thanks PW!