What's the best way to cut an onion without tearing up? Do you have an onion-y story to share?

I'm putting together a new podcast with Food52 on food stories from the F52 community (i.e. you)! What's your go-to technique/hack for cutting an onion without it falling apart, and without tears streaming down your face? Who taught you how? Any funny/cute/tear-jerking moments revolving around alliums? If you have a story to share, I'd love to hear from you, and invite you onto the podcast for a short chat!

  • Posted by: Jun
  • January 17, 2021


Happygoin January 18, 2021
Scuba goggles. Never fails.
Jun January 20, 2021
Oooh yes I've heard this works! Do you have a pair of scuba goggles you keep in the kitchen just for this purpose then?
Happygoin January 20, 2021
Lol, no Yi, I don't. Actually, I've found a sharp knife is the key to chopping onions without tears.
HalfPint January 18, 2021
Sharp knife and cut it quickly. I cut the onion in half and rinse under cold water. Then I start chopping/slicing quickly, moving the cut onions to a bowl off to the side, . Since the sulfurous fumes will travel up, I keep my head slightly away from the onion as I cut. This works about 90% of time.
Jun January 20, 2021
Oooh I wonder about the other 10% of the time though. Does it have anything to do with ventilation or humidity of the room perhaps?
Lori T. January 17, 2021
The "best" way to cut up an onion without tearing up is to get somebody else to do the dirty work! Seriously though- the usual method of leaving the hairy root end intact, and slicing/cross-cutting is about the most efficient way to obtain dices or slices, and that's what I do for a single onion. When I am going to have to conquer large numbers though- as when I make onion soup, I like to actually chill the onions for about half an hour first. That helps delay the release of the sulfur compounds that irritate eyes. I've been told you can also put them in the freezer briefly for the same effect, but haven't ever done that. And honestly, if I don't really need to be so concerned with the precise appearance of the onion bits, I'm not opposed to using the food processor to do the chopping for me.
Jun January 20, 2021
Hahaha that is a great tip Lori! Also the food processor is honestly such a lifesaver. Would you be up for sharing your tips on our new podcast based on the Hotline? If so, I'll send you an email with the details soon!
Lori T. January 20, 2021
Sure, I don't mind sharing tips with others. I don't like having to learn the hard way, or by repeating other people's mistakes- and I assume nobody else does either.
Jun January 21, 2021
Hey Lori! I've sent you an email with some details. Would love to schedule a short call with you sometime soon!
Nancy January 17, 2021
See Frank Proto episdoe for making French Onion Soup. He's a great teacher - both a restaurant chef and cooking school instructor, for about a year or two on YouTube (first on Epicurious, then his own channel Proto Cooks), at around minute 2:20...how to cut onions.
Nancy January 18, 2021
Why include this video? Because it taught me, after years of cooking, a way to painlessly and effectively cut onions.
Jun January 20, 2021
Oh nice, this is really helpful. Thanks Nancy! I was wondering too if you had any stories/misadventures to do with onions? You've been such an active member on the Hotline, we'd definitely love to have you in our Hotline-based podcast at some point!
Nancy January 20, 2021
Thanks Yi for the idea about podcast and question, but I don't have any misadventures to report. The only tip I have from experience is that sweet varieties of onion seem to generate less of the gas that makes people cry. But if you have to cut regular onions, that's no help.
Miss_Karen January 17, 2021
The best way to remove the smell of onions (and garlic) from your hands is to rub them on a stainless steel surface under running water. (The side of a sink or a stainless steel spoon.)
Miss_Karen January 17, 2021
Make sure your knife is sharp! Remove the papery skin. Rinse the blade in cold water. Cut the ends off,root end last. Then cut the onion in half (side to side not top to bottom.) Put the cut side down- you want 'arches' that are up and down in direction. Make slices however thick you desire. Turn the slices so they are now side to side and then slice from right to left while holding the slices together. This gives you an even dice since the layers of the arches act like a cut. No tears. I promise.
I was the 'Grubmaster' for my son's Boy Scout troop occasionally. They were doubtful when I showed them this method. I told them they didn't need any stupid 'onion goggles.' Vindication is a good thing😉
Jun January 20, 2021
Hahah vindication indeed! Would you be up to share your Grubmaster stories on the podcast episode? I'll send over a quick email with the details! Also yes I've found that a sharp knife is key too, but whenever I have to cut a dozen or so onions I still tear up. 😢
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