What's the best way to cut an onion so it doesn't fall apart? And while we're at it, how do I not cry while cutting an onion?

Ileana Morales Valentine


Laurelb December 4, 2012
To stop from crying use a ceramic knife. Wish I'd had them years ago
avimom January 5, 2011
Keep your onions out of the fridge...you cry less if they're at room temp. I "chop" my onions by peeling back the outer skins, but keeping them and the roots intact. Cut a series of verticle slices down almost to the roots, then rotate and cut another series of verticle slices perpendicular to the first. You've made a grid of slices almost all the way through the onion. Now, lay the onion down and cut horizontal slices, i.e. each horizontal slice cuts off a plane of the grid. You end up with a nice pile of chopped onion. You hold onto the peeled back skins while you slice, so your fingers are safely out of the way.
cheese1227 January 5, 2011
I love SallyCan's suggestion. And I agree with MrsLarkin as I find the contact lenses provide a shield. But if you don't have contacts, my grandmother always put a small piece of bread on the roof of her mouth while cutting onions. I've tried it , it works.
SweetTea January 5, 2011
Had a nice and informative discussion on a plane once with an agronomist with specialisation in onions -- use goggles. I use my extra pair of ski goggles. Fashion be buggered.
aargersi January 5, 2011
Onion Goggles! I use mine ALL THE TIME - you look goofy but who cares?

RobertaJ January 5, 2011
Contact lenses are the bomb for not crying, since they seal to the surface of your eyes, and prevent the sulfur from attacking your tears. Save that (which *I* rely on, sorry), for that I don't have any suggestions, other than a very sharp knife will minimize the cellular damage in the onion which releases excess sulfur.

For the cutting however, if you want nice thin shreds, slices, cut the onion in half from top to bottom, not around the middle. Lay it on the board, cut side down, and again, cut with the knife from top to bottom, not crosswise. You'll need to angle the slices a bit, and when you get a lilttle over half-way done, plop the onion over to a more stable base, but you'll get lovely julliene strips that way, that won't get stringy when you cook them. The slices will look like strips, rather than the half-moons you'd get cutting across.

For dice, yes, leave the root end in place, and cut lengthwise, then across.
hardlikearmour January 4, 2011
You can also burn a candle near where you are cutting to burn the sulfur compounds that are making you cry. I have the same experience as mrslarkin - contacts prevent the problem.
mrslarkin January 4, 2011
I'm going to try SallyCan's trick! That sounds FUN!

I've found when I'm wearing my contact lenses and cutting onions, I never cry.
SallyCan January 4, 2011
To keep from crying when you're cutting an onion, hold an unlit wooden match, with the striking tip end out, between your teeth. Really! It works!
bella S. January 4, 2011
Cut the onion in half through the root end. Leaving the root end intact keeps the onion from falling apart. When the onions are really potent, my husband dons his ski googles. It works!
Bevi January 4, 2011
As stated in the book title: "The Sharper the Knife, the Less You Cry"
campagnes January 4, 2011
Here's a good video demonstrating the technique: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDjNl5gs4nM

and yep, I agree with puresugar - avoid the tears by chopping quick. :) Some onions just seem funkier than others, for whatever reason. I'd love to know why, if anyone knows.
puresugar January 4, 2011
If you're going to use a cutting board & knife, you can (peel & halve lengthwise &) leave the root end intact until the last series of cuts, and that should help hold it together.

As for the crying, my own solution is to chop fast or at least without interruptions, and then get on with cooking the onions. I have found that one onion will nearly blind me, while I'll barely feel another. Anybody know why that is?

What I remember from Cook's Illustrated is that the most reliable anti-cry trick was ski goggles, because your eyes are sealed of from the airborne compounds that make your eyes water.
relentless January 4, 2011
Cut off the blossom end, then in half lengthwise. Keeping ur fingers curled under, make lengthwise cuts from the blossom end, the root will hold it together. Then, you can make transverse cuts across the blossom end and you will have a nice dice. A really sharp knife minimizes crying ( unless you cut yourself?)
Jenny O. January 4, 2011
Use your food processor if you have one. Also try running some cold water while you chop to mitigate tears, I have no idea why that works, but my mother taught me and I think it does.
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