We’re tackling everyone’s least favorite thing to do in the kitchen (next to doing the dishes): chopping an onion. It’s like the minute you realize a recipe needs a chopped onion, your eyes already start tearing up. And definitely not tears of joy. Terrible onion-chopping tears that make you wish you wore waterproof mascara. But fortunately, with a sharp knife and good technique, it doesn’t have to be so bad.
First things first: you have to use a sharp chef’s knife. Why? Well aside from being so frustrating to use, a dull blade crushes the onion’s tear-inducing enzymes versus a sharp blade which cuts through cleanly, minimizing the enzyme’s release. We had to get a little nerdy here, but now you get it, right? So if there’s *anything* you have to have in your kitchen, it’s a solid chef’s knife. For beginners, we recommend this Victorinox 8″ Knife — it’s reasonably priced and a great starter knife. (P.S. Want more product recommendations? Be sure to check out our free guide: 22 Basic Tools You Gotta Have in Your Kitchen!)
HOW TO CHOP AN ONION
Aside from having a sharp knife, speed and technique is key. You want to get the chopped onion from cutting board to pan ASAP, so those obnoxious enzymes don’t linger in the air. The more you practice chopping an onion, the faster you’ll get, so stick to our technique in the video and you’ll be golden!
1. Cut the stem end: By trimming this end, you create a flat surface to help you with step 2! Note that we don’t cut the root end, because this holds the onion together as we chop it.
2. Slice in half and peel: It’s easier to peel off the onion skin after you’ve cut it in half. You might end up peeling off the first thin layer of the onion, which is totally fine.
3. Make parallel cuts: Take one of the onion halves, and rest it cut side down. Place your palm on top of the onion to keep it in place, and see-saw the knife to cut ~3/4 through the onion (definitely not all the way). This cut is important so that the onion pieces are the same size and cook evenly.
4. Make vertical cuts: Rotate the onion 90 degrees, so the root is away from you and make vertical cuts, once again only 3/4 of the way through. The width of the cuts sets the size of your onion pieces. For a large dice, make the cuts wider. For a fine dice, make cuts that are closer together.
5. Chop: Rotate the onion again so the root is on the side away from your blade. Chop away until you get to the root! Be sure to make a claw with your supporting hand to keep your fingers away from the blade.
READY TO PRACTICE?
Good news! Most recipes include a chopped onion, so you won’t have to look too hard to find a dish to practice. We recommend our 30-minute Shakshuka or Asian Chicken Lettuce Cups. Give our method a try and let us know what you think in the comments — you got this!