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How to Chop an Onion the Proper Way



How to Chop an Onion

How to Chop an Onion the Proper Way

You’ve probably cut an onion before, maybe even cooked with one or two in your time. But have you ever chopped an onion? The difference between chopping and cutting can mean the difference between life and death at least when it comes to this root vegetable.


It turns out the only way to cut an onion the proper way is to chop it. Here’s why that matters, and how you can chop your next onion like a pro.


Always use gloves
It’s always a good idea to use gloves when chopping an onion. The protective barrier of latex will keep your hands from getting stained by diacyl hydrazide (yes, that’s what makes onions taste and smell like onions).



Your hands are precious; they’re all you have in life, so take care of them. If you don’t want to wear gloves while chopping, at least washes your hands thoroughly after handling onions.


If you must do without gloves, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before touching any other food or utensils. Also, be aware that some people may be allergic to onions.


If you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, it might be best not to touch onions with your bare hands. But if you’re just cooking for yourself, there is no need to worry about sharing germs. Just make sure to clean up well afterward.


And try not to cry too much as you chop your eyes will sting if onion juice gets into them. Wear goggles if necessary.

How to Chop an Onion

How to Chop an Onion

• Remove outer layers: Use a sharp knife to remove any papery skins or rough patches from around the outside of your onion. Cut off both ends and remove any damaged layers until you get down to a solid core that can be peeled off easily.


A firm base ensures that your slices won’t fall apart on you later on down the line.

• Peel away: Place your onion cut-side-down on a flat surface and peel away each layer using a paring knife.


Start peeling at one end and work your way towards the root, removing each layer carefully until you reach the very center of your onion. You should be left with only one large piece once you’ve finished peeling.

Read Also: How Much Onion Powder Equals One Onion


• Slice thin: Using a chef’s knife, slice your onion thinly across its width. Make sure to hold your blade at a 45-degree angle as you slice downwards through each layer, keeping even pressure on top of your blade throughout.


When slicing, be careful not to apply too much pressure you could accidentally crush or bruise your onion instead of cutting it properly.


• Separate rings: Once you’ve sliced through all of your layers, separate out individual rings from their neighboring pieces.


Hold onto each ring by its root and gently pull it away from the rest of your onion. If needed, run a paring knife along between each ring to ensure that they stay separated from one another.


• Rinse underwater: Finally, rinse your onion under cold water to remove any excess dirt or dust clinging to its exterior. Pat dry with paper towels and store in a sealed container until ready for use.


• Chopping technique: Chopping an onion isn’t hard, but it does require a little finesse. To avoid crying,

You’ll want to start slowly and make sure to pay attention to your body language. To begin, place your onion on a flat surface and cut off both ends.


Then, lay your onion flat side down on a cutting board and carefully peel away each layer until you reach the center.


Once you’ve reached your desired thickness, place your onion on a cutting board and use a chef’s knife to make evenly spaced cuts. Be sure to maintain a 45-degree angle and press firmly on top of your knife.


If you’re having trouble making thin, uniform cuts, try rolling your onion back and forth on your board while applying steady downward pressure. Repeat until you’ve reached your desired size.


Cut off both ends
First, cut off both ends of your onion so you have flat sides. This will allow for a flat surface when you’re chopping and help keep you from losing a finger.


Just kidding about that last part. But not really. You should use protective gear like gloves or thick kitchen towels when cutting onions (or any sharp vegetable). No one likes crying over diced veggies, And no, there are no tears in our eyes…not even close.


Nope. Not us. It’s just allergies. Yeah…that’s it. We can barely see straight as it is because of our allergies! Whew! That was close! OK…we know what you want: how to chop an onion without crying…right? The good news is it’s easier than you think.


Here’s how Chop 1/2 inch from the root end: Cut 1/2 inch off of each end of your onion, forming a rough cone shape. Cutting these ends helps keep your fingers safe by creating more stable edges on which to rest your knife.


Now you’re ready to slice vertically down through your onion, cutting through layers until you reach its center.

Read: How to Cut an Onion the Fast and Easy Way


If you’re using a small onion, simply continue slicing until you’ve reached the core. If you’re using a large onion, stop once you get halfway through. The next step is key.


Slice horizontally across: Once you’ve reached your core, it’s time to make horizontal cuts across your onion. Begin at one edge of your onion and slice toward but not all the way through to its opposite side.


Next, rotate your onion 90 degrees clockwise, keeping it resting on top of your first set of slices. Make another series of vertical cuts along your new edge.


Continue rotating and making slices until you’ve sliced all around but not completely through to your original starting point. Your chopped onion should now be free-standing with only a thin layer holding it together at its very center.

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To do so, place your blade at a 45-degree angle against your onion and slice horizontally across, making sure to only go through one layer of onion at a time.

How to Chop an Onion

How to Chop an Onion

Continue making horizontal slices until you have completed another full circle around your original vertical cut.


Repeat: Continue repeating steps 2-4 until you have chopped all of your onion into evenly sized pieces. Rinse under water: At some point during all of this chopping action, some juice from your onion may escape onto your cutting board or countertop.


Use a wet paper towel to wipe up any excess juices before they dry. Rinsing your chopped onion under cold running water is also helpful in removing extra bits of dirt or skin that might still be clinging to it.


Pat dry: After rinsing, pat your onion dry with another clean paper towel before adding it to whatever dish you’re preparing.


Sprinkle a little salt and pepper to taste, and you’re good to go! Toss it all together: Some chefs recommend adding onion directly to a hot pan while others prefer sautéing it beforehand.


If you choose to sauté your onion, heat a bit of oil or butter in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add your onion and stir until tender.

Read: How to Freeze Kale – A Convenient Method of Keeping Your Produce Fresh


Otherwise, simply toss your chopped onion directly into whatever dish you’re preparing and enjoy.

To avoid tears, slice onions underwater
Onions contain a chemical called syn-propanediol-S-oxide, which triggers your eyes to release tears.


The enzyme thiosulphate in water binds with syn-propanediol-S-oxide and prevents you from tearing up while chopping or dicing.


To chop onions under water, slice them underwater, then transfer them to a bowl of water before sautéing or adding them to the soup.


This also works if you’re cutting up multiple onions at once just be sure to use fresh water each time you add more onion to your container. And if all else fails, try keeping a box of tissues nearby for some quick relief.


If you still find yourself tearing up after trying these tips, don’t worry you’re not alone.


I wonder how many people actually cry when they cut an onion? I always thought it was just something people said when they wanted to sound tough… but I guess not. So now you know how to chop an onion and not have any tears.


Slice along each side of the onion
When you’re ready to chop, don’t be afraid of your knife! Start by slicing along each side of your onion.


Make sure that you separate each side into individual layers and be sure that you don’t cut through them, as we will later be using these to determine where exactly you should chop.


The idea is that you want to keep each layer intact so that it maintains its integrity while cooking. If there are any blemishes or bruises on your onion, it’s best to remove those before cutting so they don’t affect how things turn out in the end.


Your goal is to create a grid-like pattern: Once you have sliced along both sides of your onion, take a look at it and notice how all of those beautiful translucent cells are separated from one another.


You’ll want to keep them that way for as long as possible so that they can retain their flavor and texture when cooked.


The best way to do that is by creating a grid-like pattern across each layer of your onion. This means that instead of cutting straight down through your onion, you will be making diagonal cuts in between each cell.

This will give you more control over how things turn out in the end and help maintain those tasty onions cells we just talked about.


The next step is to chop away!: Now that you have created a nice grid-like pattern on each side of your onion, it’s time to chop away! Make sure that you cut up into your layers (but not through them) and make small even chops until everything has been diced.


Peel away outer layers
How to chop an onion is a question that has puzzled and frightened many cooks over their lives. Let’s set aside your eyes for a moment and focus on those delicious carbies, and savory flavors. Onion may be intimidating, but it’s actually very easy to chop.


First, remove any dirt or obvious loose skin from your onion. Then, cut off both ends of your onion so that they are flat and even. Take one of these flat ends in hand (careful not to cut yourself!) and start slicing off thin layers of an onion.

Read: How to Make Onion Rings from Scratch


The goal here is to make each layer as uniform as possible; don’t worry about getting every piece exactly even just do your best.


Once you have peeled away all of your outer layers, you should be left with just a small core at the center.


This core can then be removed using either your knife or fingers (be careful). Now you have chopped an onion.


You can store them in some water if you like to keep them fresh longer, but I usually just use mine right away. Happy Chopping.


Slice vertically into strips
Use a sharp chef’s knife to cut a vertical line down one side of your onion, from tip to stem. Repeat on the opposite side. Then slice down through each onion half, again vertically, but only about 1⁄3 of the way through.


Now you should have a few strips of onion hanging off either end and some layers in between. Slice horizontally: Holding onto both ends of one strip, make another horizontal cut through it so that you are left with two separate slices still attached at their base.

How to Chop an Onion

How to Chop an Onion

Make sure you don’t go all the way through or else they will fall apart. Now repeat with other strips until you have chopped up your entire onion into thin slices.


If any pieces remain intact, just dice them finely by hand. It might take a little practice, but soon you’ll be able to chop onions like a pro.

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Store-bought pre-chopped onions may seem convenient, but most chefs agree there is no substitute for freshly chopped onion the flavor is far superior.


And if you happen to be crying while chopping (as many people do), then consider yourself part of a proud tradition.


Chefs around the world have been crying over their onions for centuries. Onions are notorious tearjerkers because they contain sulfuric compounds which irritate our eyes. These compounds also give onions their pungent aroma and unique taste.


So next time you find yourself tearing up while dicing an onion, sniff away you’re experiencing culinary history.


It’s important to note that when using an electric food processor, safety precautions must be taken as blades can cause serious injury. Read instructions carefully before using a food processor and always keep fingers out of the path of blades.


A food processor can help you save time and energy when preparing meals at home; here are a few tips for getting started.


• Process small amounts of soft foods, such as fruits or vegetables. Large amounts of hard foods, such as nuts or ice cubes, may cause damage.


• To protect against injury, never place your fingers near the blade while it is operating. Make sure the work bowl is properly seated on the base before turning the machine on.


• Do not overfill the work bowl with food that cannot be processed within 30 seconds or so; add more small batches instead. Always process smaller amounts first to prevent overflow if too much is added at once.


• Keep appliance unplugged during cleaning. Wipe outside dry after washing in warm, sudsy water; allow to air-dry completely before storing. Wipe inside with a damp cloth and mild detergent after each use; do not immerse in water or other liquids. Store upright in a dry area away from sources of heat and moisture, such as a dishwasher or sink drainboard. Allow the appliance to cool completely before placing the cover back on top.


• If you notice any unusual odor or smoke coming from your food processor, immediately stop using it and contact the manufacturer’s customer service department for assistance.


• When using an electric knife, always cut away from yourself (and others) to avoid injury. Never leave a knife unattended while plugged in unattended knives have been known to suddenly start up without warning.

Read: How to Make Onion Powder in 5 Easy Steps


• Never attempt to remove the blade while the motor is running always turn off the motor first! To release the blade, push down on the locking button and gently pull it out toward you. Store in a dry area with adequate ventilation; do not store near sink drainboard or other sources of moisture or heat as rust may occur.


Allow the appliance to cool completely before placing the cover back on top. It’s important to note that when using an electric food processor, safety precautions must be taken as blades can cause serious injury.


Slicing is easier if you separate each layer first
Cut off each end, then peel off and discard the skin. Cut onion in half lengthwise; remove the center core. Place flat side down on cutting board; cut into thin slices.


If you’re not using it right away, store onions with their root end down in a container of water (like you would flowers). They will keep it for several days.


To chop, slice onions as directed above. Place one layer at a time flat side down on the cutting board and slice into thin strips across the onion (rather than lengthwise).


Allowing chopped onions to sit exposed to air causes them to oxidize meaning they’ll develop an unappealing brownish tinge. So don’t dice more than you need for immediate use, and be sure to cook or add them quickly before allowing them to sit out for too long.


To store leftover onions, place them in a container with a lid and refrigerate them. They will keep for up to one week. (For longer storage, freeze.) To freeze: Place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with wax paper; freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag or other container. Frozen onion can be stored for up to six months.


To thaw frozen onion, leave it in its original packaging at room temperature for several hours or overnight. If you’re adding it to something that requires cooking (such as soup), thawing time is not critical. But if you want to sauté or grill frozen onion right away, slice it while still partially frozen so that it releases its juices as it cooks and doesn’t burn.


Oven-roasted onions are delicious but messy. The easiest way to prepare oven-roasted onions is to cut off both ends of an onion, peel off the skin, separate each layer of skin from the other and pull it apart into rings, lay it flat side down on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper sprayed lightly with nonstick spray and drizzle generously with olive oil (1/4 cup per large onion). Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.


Roast at 400 degrees F for 45 minutes to 1 hour, flipping once halfway through roasting time. Allow cooling slightly before serving or storing. You can also roast your onion whole by placing its root end down on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper sprayed lightly with nonstick spray and drizzling generously with olive oil (1/4 cup per large onion).


Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Wrap tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, unwrap carefully, and let cool slightly before serving or storing. Or roast on the stovetop over medium heat in a skillet with no added fat, stirring frequently.


The cooked onion will keep for up to two weeks when placed in a sealed container and refrigerated. It freezes well, too: To freeze cooked onion, place cooked onions on a baking sheet lined with wax paper; freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag or other container. Frozen cooked onion can be stored for up to six months.